MILAN (AP) — Designers are offering alternate realities for men next winter.
Yes, tailored suits and overcoats, the staples of any wardrobe, have their place on the runways on the second day of Milan Fashion Week on Sunday.
But designers also are recognizing men's need to escape their urban work-a-day worlds and get in touch with nature. They don't go so far as to offer outdoor clothing, per se. But there is more than a smattering of short, hooded parkas worn over suits and with backpacks that suggest some other destination after the office. And many collections incorporate active wear, including athletic trousers, often knit, with elastic or drawstring waistlines and gathered cuffs.
Milan Fashion Week runs through Tuesday.
Miuccia Prada is closing the book on her study of pop culture, choosing a more intimate look at fashion.
Prada set the stage by conjuring European avant-garde theater of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Her materials: sheer and light-weight fabric. Her color scheme was mostly deep tones with purple, rust, teal and browns offset by cream, red and magenta.
The looks themselves had a theatrical appeal — men's leisure suits in deep tones with contrasting piping along the outer seams were accented with silky scarves tied around their neck, instead of ties. Suits were paired with silky collared shirts, or super-sheer knit tops that put in clear evidence the wearer's state of fitness.
Prada couldn't say all she wanted with just men, so included women also in the show.
They wore paper-light leather dresses gathered at the waist and neckline or long sheer skirts with floor-skimming boas.
Bottega Veneta creative director Tomas Maier's details startle with their subtlety.
The quiet bronze plaid jacket appears to have had its hemline dipped in electric blue dye that gently fades at the edge. An argyle pattern is knitted on a bias. The asymmetrical neckline of a soft pullover hugs a shoulder, giving the effect of one-sided shrug.
Some of the details in the menswear collection for next fall and winter have feminine antecedents, like a broad scooped neckline on a sweater, but the overall feel of the collection was decidedly masculine, defined by an athletic silhouette.
"The collection is about versatility and ease," Maier said in notes.
Many of the trousers taper to ribbed cuff, mimicking active wear, and worn often with a bomber jacket and heavy shoes. Two tone knit caps tucked under the ears finish the look with a bit of whimsy. Dark neutral colors dominate.
Bottega Veneta started as a leather goods company, and Maier exploits the tradition with a cross-body satchel that is clutched under the arm, as are large shoppers often in the fashion house's trademark weave.
Italian fashion house Salvatore Ferragamo's menswear collection for fall took traditional male staples like jean jackets and trench coats and re-worked them in earthy colors blended with just a hint of ethnic or nomadic pattern.
Long wool trench coats in tan were splashed with bands of sesame and chocolate. Jackets and even suits were sprinkled with stripes or patterns lifted from Native American blankets, keeping things interesting. Peacoats and military jackets came in an unexpected pale mint green.
The collection by designer Massimiliano Giornetti made stunning use of leather, as befits a house which began as a shoemaker to the Hollywood stars in the 1920s.
Boots with thick soles and a strap around the ankle came in different color variations, including a deep blue, and looked great with both suits and less formal looks. Short little jean jackets came in leather or pony skin. But for a house that makes its bread and butter from accessories, there were few bags on the runway except for hefty-looking large totes perfect for a weekend getaway.
John Richmond has had skirts in his personal wardrobe since his youth, or as the designer put it, "before everyone started doing it."
In fact, it is a skirt from Richmond's own closet that was worn by a bare-chested male model on the 1984 cover of British magazine The Face, which has earned a place in fashion history.
Notice he doesn't call them kilts. This is no Scottish fetish.
"It is more punk-associated," Richmond said backstage after the premier of his winter 2015 collection, which included knee-length skirts with front pleats layered with a man's suit in matching fabric, a novel variation of the three-piece suit.
Richmond concedes the skirt is not for everyone, but for the few who are willing to give it a go, he doesn't see a risk to their masculinity.
"I don't think that guys look feminine wearing a skirt. They look really cool," he said.
The overall mood of the collection was decidedly masculine, with leather white-on-black bomber jackets, quilted jackets with leather pants, pullover sweatshirts with optical flair and sartorial suits in checks and stripes.
At the end of the show, Richmond's 3-year-old son Lou joined him on the runway for a hug.
British designer Vivienne Westwood's menswear collection for fall was full of baggy trousers referencing hip hop music, mixed up with environmentalist messages.
There were three versions of the tracksuit, a hip hop favorite: a tight, high tech zip-up in gray, a loose and baggy one accented in black trim, and a full-on gold version with a hood.
Westwood's clothes have strong ties to music, so the nod to hip hop seemed only natural for the women who invented the safety-pin looks that defined punk rock in the 1970s.
Fond of splashing political messages across T-shirts, she sent several models out wearing shirts emblazoned with the words "+ 5 degrees," in reference to global warming.
Her casual looks often featured low-waisted baggy trousers cut off at the knee, paired with a big sweater and oxfords, or a leather jacket, or just a T-shirt and sneakers. A raincoat as thin as tissue paper looked like just the thing to pop into a suitcase before a trip.
Calvin Klein's looks for next winter suggest something of a futuristic global adventurer/man of mystery.
His outfits are monochromatic in tones of camel, olive and blue-gray that give the impression the wearer can mimetically conceal himself in any environment: desert, forest or sea.
Loose trousers shimmering in copper and silver are worn with bulky graphic or quilted satin sweatshirts that relay a sense of utility and strength. For outerwear, there's a shiny hooded parka or woolen bomber.
Suits were closely tailored, with tapered cuffs worn over laced boots. Jackets had mildly contrasting lapels, and are worn over button-up shirts, tieless. The mystery comes in with the ample backpacks that require a cross body strap, and the oversized overcoat.
If he is just going to work, why all the gear? What could this apparently mild-mannered traveler with the slicked-back hair be really up to?
MONCLER GAMME BLEU
Moncler, the company that glammed up the down jacket, topped off its recent blockbuster stock market debut with a debut of another sort during Milan's menswear shows — it added womenswear to its only-for-men Gamme Bleu fall-winter 2014-2015 line.
Designer Thom Browne has proved adept at Moncler at channeling the rich visual language of sports into city wear for fashionable urbanites. For his Milan Fashion Week preview, he turned a former factory in Milan into a wood-paneled library at a British country estate, and showed a collection that pulled its inspiration from the golf green circa 1920.
The collection was a riff on diamond-print argyle done in every way possible on jackets, pants, socks and even a full-length down skirt (shown on both male and female models). For the less bold, the Moncler gray quilted down jacket, cut like a blazer, ornamented with a stitched argyle pattern, will probably be enough to recall the summer greens.
Moncler pulled off Europe's most successful IPO last year when its shares rose nearly 50 percent on their first day of trading. On Sunday, Moncler showed it is serious about continuing to broaden its product line.
London-based Italian designer Angelo Galasso is bullish on Milan.
Galasso sees so much potential in Milan's retail market that he is moving his store this winter, tripling its size just 2 ½ years after opening in Milan and five years after launching the eponymous brand. While most shoppers at Galasso's Milan store are foreign tourists, the designer says his Italian clientele is growing and often spends in equal measure to his foreign followers.
"Italians are tired, and it is not just because the economy is not doing well, but also of their wardrobes," Galasso said. He senses Italian men are ready to burst beyond the classic blazer and find less repetitive looks.
Galasso's collection for next winter includes tailored jackets with wide lapels made from printed tie fabric or velvet, and worn with ripped jeans — giving both a dandy and a 1970s vibe.
German designer Philipp Plein called his fall-winter 2014-2015 menswear collection "Noir Cowboy."
The show started off with a bang with a real-life rodeo show complete with a bucking bronco. Overwhelmingly black, both matte and shiny, the only splashes of color in the entire collection were in the red checked shirts or the fringed scarves.
Versace also mined the western theme for its menswear show, but Plein's take was more decadent and luxurious.
Plein's collection made expert use of animal skins ranging from leather all the way through to crocodile and snakeskin. A buffalo skull motif was worked onto T-shirts and on cashmere blankets thrown across the torso and belted. Some of the jackets featured snakeskin lapels with Swarovski micro studs. That's some sharp cowboy.
Fur highlights Marni's menswear for next winter.
The centerpiece item is the fur collar accessory, replacing the scarf, which comes in green mink or dark Astrakan. Soft, hug-inviting vests are made from beaver. And goat fur is used in pants as well as caps.
As in other collections in Milan this season, Marni creative director Consuelo Castiglioni included athletic wear, knitted sweatpants and sweatshirts with a strategically concealed pocket.
Marni's trademark prints also were on display, Castiglioni's own floral designs as well as prints made from artworks from so-called outsider artists who achieve a level of mastery despite a lack of formal training.
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