Digital world influences Milan's menswear

Associated Press
Italian fashion designers Stefano Gabbana, left, and Domenico Dolce acknowledge the applause at the end of the Dolce & Gabbana men's Spring-Summer 2012 collection show, part of the Milan Fashion Week, Milan, Italy, Saturday, June 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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Italian fashion designers Stefano Gabbana, left, and Domenico Dolce acknowledge the applause at the end …

MILAN (AP) — There's no doubt that the digital world is on the minds' of designers showing their menswear collections for next spring and summer.

On opening day Saturday, Dolce and Gabbana showed off their penchant for social networking. Jil Sander turned a traveler's money pouch into a colorful iPad holder. And Burberry pushed back against the rise of digitalization opting to explore the world of handcraftsmanship.

Colors are muted, earthy tones, or black and white.

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DOLCE&GABBANA

The forward-looking Dolce and Gabbana duo have caught on to social networking, on and off the runway.

One of the first to have live coverage of their shows over the Internet, and to beam blogger comments onto a screen above the runway, the designers have taken the net one step further, making it the inspiration for their latest menswear collection.

In black or white or a combination of both, the spring-summer 2012 collection presented Saturday included all kinds of connecting fabric from the mosquito net, to the fishing net to the wide netting of a soccer goal post.

According to the designers, the idea was to update their sartorial roots, and involve the present generation in their fashion story.

"We're in the mood to experiment, to rework tailoring, making it modern and innovative," Domenico Dolce said at a breakfast get-together with reporters before the show.

The result is almost minimalist, a real transformation for the duo known for their flamboyant sexy clothes.

A perfectly tailored jacket devoid of lapel paired with a pristine white shirt and a pair of boxer shorts worn with city shoes but no socks is the basic silhouette.

The netting motif is used for all types of fabric from leather to silk, and comes in such diverse styles as a suit, a pair of pants or a sweater.

For the grand finale, the designers sent 60 young models, all in white netted T-shirts and matching Bermudas, down the stoney white runway of their downtown Milan theater.

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BURBERRY PRORSUM

There's an inherent message in Burberry Prorsum's menswear collection for next spring and summer. Slow down.

Designer Christopher Bailey isn't trying to hit anyone over the head with the thought. It's more by example.

Bailey has put craftsmanship at the heart of the collection — and not the kind of crafts normally associated with men's clothing. There's crocheting, stitching, embroidery and handblock prints.

"I wanted to celebrate the idea of craftsmanship. I love the whole digitalization of the world. But I don't think one has to be at the expense of the other," Bailey said backstage after Saturday's preview.

From the exercise of crafts, emerged an array of ethnic references, which Bailey said was a natural part of the process. "I think just the idea of making things by hand immediately becomes ethnic," he said.

Geometric shapes around the neckline were suggestive of traditional Native American dress. Block prints gave a textured look to tops and sweaters, with pebbling giving way to bold shapes. Circular patterns on T-shirts suggest ancient art.

Burberry's native Scotland, too, had its due. Most of the outfits were topped with a hand-crocheted raffia golfing hat, complete with a pompon. Shoes were cork soled-moccasins or easy loafers at times contrasted with woven tapestry.

Colors tended toward the earthy, with flashes of garnet, beets or bright indigo.

The clothing was easy to wear, and pack, perhaps in a Burberry braided leather tote. Loose, oversized parkas with crocheted, detachable collars could be worn over light swim trunks. A sturdy fishermen's knit sweater jacket with side pockets twins effortlessly with a pair of trousers.

"I wanted it to feel easy and not contrived," Bailey said. "I wanted it to feel designed as well."

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JIL SANDER

Raf Simons for Jil Sander likes to wow his fashion followers.

Last season, he threw the label's minimalist trademark to the wind, bursting out in colors brighter than a box of crayons. His latest menswear collection shown Saturday for next spring and summer is so simple and colorless that it makes minimal look complicated.

Pale-faced boys with shiny gelled hair plastered to their foreheads walked down the runway in high-waisted trousers paired with black shirts or pleated blue Bermuda shorts twinned with a crotched sweater in melange wool. Shorts were worn with thick-soled black shoes and black socks.

For the outdoorsy guy, Simons offered a series of transparent plastic raincoats, which, were it not for the exquisite workmanship — one was cut like a blazer — were reminiscent of those sold at football games.

As per the show notes, the collection reads like a travelogue of the past 50 years of fashion, from the popularity of plastic to the high-waisted pants to the crocheted sweaters, army boots, utility jackets and shiny lacquered overcoats, all in streamlined styles.

Most innovative were the yesteryear money bags worn around the neck, turned into iPad carriers. The contemporary accessory came in bright shades, the sole touch of color in the collection.

According to Simons, the idea was to bring fashion up to date without relinquishing the styles of the past. By cutting with an edge and using tecno fabrics, it was easy for the designer to prove his point.

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ZEGNA

From cool colors to tailored cuts, Zegna's styles for the next warm weather season is classic. Khakis are paired with suede coats and gray T-shirts — with just a touch of Bohemian in a narrow scarf. Bermuda shorts are worn with a jacket and printed button-down shirt, with a pair of thick strapped sandals.

Colors were muted Mediterranean shades of sand, beige and brown, with touches of light green and pink.

Slicked back hair and cool sunglasses finish the look.

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Colleen Barry contributed to this report.

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