June 19, 2010

Men and Milano

Pitti Uomo is now in full swing and the Spring 2011 Menswear shows have begun. There is a special place in my heart for Milano that always aches this time of year; I spent a lot of time in that city in the past, but now I guess I have to pull my hair out from the intense jealousy of live vicariously through top tier bloggers tweeting from the front row. Here are some highlights thus far.

Jil Sander was the first show that I saw from this season. Between work and family engagements I was worried that I would not have time to keep up, but thank goodness I underestimated how far modern technology and the daily commute could take me. Raf Simons' designs sound off spring with a smart use of color and print. See how the color plays an important role in proportion. This is a collection that allows the body conscious to wear print and color again! And yeah, yeah, "Florals? For Spring? GROUND BREAKING." I know, but the fluorescent all-over print and blown up petals are a fresh take on the cliché. Bravo for another great use of bold graphics!

There isn't too much that I would wear from SS2011 Versace, but Donatella delivered a group of rockabilly boys that stripped down to their birthday suits before our very eyes. That may not be so uncommon for the house of Versace, but I was not prepared to see Jethro Cave in a Speedo - I'm not sure how I feel about that yet. This was NOT the show to turn around Versace's fiscal woes but the fringe, suits, and pointed shoes might be a step in the right direction toward clothing for men who don't peacock.

Christopher Bailey's genius lies in his ability to infuse fashion forward designs with Burberry's English heritage. Season after season, the Burberry Prorsum shows have been a delightful parade of knights, aviators, and military men. The spring show streamed this morning and I was surprised to see a new inspiration: Punk. Well... technically it was "Biker" but the leathers, studs, and chains are reminiscent of British punk, which is arguably a large piece of English culture. This was a courageous and unexpected direction that Bailey went with in menswear but looking at individual pieces I don't think it was the most original. The leathers and color palette were annoyingly similar to Hedi Slimane's collection for Dior Homme SS2007. Perhaps the neutrals and earth tones were a safe move after the daring pastels seen in the previous year. The perforated tops and plunging necklines remind me of Prada last spring. I thought the similarities ended there, but then I saw Givenchy in the gladiator sandals and Balmain in the biker pants. And studs? Again?? Don't get me wrong, I adore the sandals amongst other things from this show, and will probably be fighting tooth and nail to obtain them. Thanks to Burberry's "Runway to Reality" initiative, instant gratification is actually possible. I am not accusing any sort of copying or influence, either. There are obvious parallels here that catch my attention, but when combined, they create a wonderfully sound look for spring. It was a solid collection with exquisite accessories, superb styling, and a marvelous example of Bailey's ability to mix the past and present. I have seen and worn it before, yes, but I will also buy and wear it again!! Here is to another year of gladiator sandals, leather jackets, and studs trenches!!

- jerome

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