With the UK still in the throes of Brexit, the US now in the midst of the next presidential election, and climate change an increasingly unavoidable issue, it’s sometimes easy to forget that while the fashion world can often reflect some of our most pressing world events, it can also offer a reprieve.
In Milan, Donatella Versace set the tone – and brought the house down – by concluding her show with the mother of all celebrity casting decisions: Jennifer Lopez in a recreation of the iconic jungle-print dress she wore to the Grammys 19 years ago.
Elsewhere, there was no shortage of colour and print, as well as a fresh take on relaxed leather ready-to-wear items, which seemed to be everywhere this season. There was also a light, sporty feel to many of the collections, which will translate well into the Australian market. While Milan offered a whole range of strong menswear options, here are four of our favourites.
It might not be as well known as some of its French or Italian counterparts, but Swiss label Bally is one of the world’s oldest and most revered fashion house. Founded in 1851, it began as a footwear brand, but has since expanded to include accessories, leathergoods and ready-to-wear collections for men and women, with stores all over the globe.
This season, the brand went back home to its roots – quite literally. Holding its spring/summer 2020 presentation in a reimagined Swiss home, inspired by nature and the brand’s reputation for creating luxe architectural pieces – especially in leather.
As with much about Bally, subtlety was on the cards, with a concise collection of 10 key menswear looks. It also showed what Bally does best, with clean, simple lines that lent the collection a sense of timelessness. These are pieces that will not date with the next wave of fashion trends. They’re built to last.
Particular stand-outs were a fantastic orange ombré jacket with zipped compartments, a selection of tailored leather trousers that were cropped at the ankles, as well as a range of shirts, trousers and jackets with intricate, vibrant prints. The collection encapsulated what Bally is really all about and delivered a lesson that is all too often overlooked in the fashion world these days: sometimes less is more.
Having recently relocated their show from New York, anticipation was high on what Boss would deliver to the catwalks of Milan. But beyond the change in setting, this was classic Boss, with an emphasis on tailoring, sportswear and fabrications, that allowed the house to showcase what it does best.
But the brand had also not left New York behind altogether, with a collection that drew inspiration from the Big Apple’s buildings, waterside location and people. The 70 looks, which combined men’s and womenswear, and ran the full colour spectrum from white, through to yellows, browns, reds, blues and black. As with much of what was seen on the runways in Milan this season, leather was a key trend – leather shirts, jackets, trousers, bags.
But it was the tailoring that really spoke the loudest. There were short-sleeved shirts tucked into relaxed dress trousers, and relaxed, flowing trench coats and jackets, but it was the double-breasted suits that were the real stand-out pieces. Offered in everything from sharp black numbers to a relaxed version in lavender with peak lapels, it was a stylish, modern upgrade on what has often been a traditionally stuffy silhouette.
Little argument this is an exciting moment for menswear. But few brands have generated as much of it in recent months as Bottega Veneta. After bursting onto the scene with his fall/winter 2019 show in Milan earlier this year, the brand’s new creative director Daniel Lee is quickly proving himself one of the fashion world’s brightest talents.
No surprise, then, that anticipation was high for his second Milanese outing. Luckily, Lee did not disappoint. The result was an evolution of the ideas he had introduced six months ago, and while last season’s men stomped down the catwalk in boots and skin-hugging motorbike trousers, Lee’s spring/summer 2020 offering was focused on sweaters, blazers, jumpers and jackets that had a lightness to them – even when rendered in leather.
It was a welcome elaboration on the foundations Lee had established at the house. But it was also clear he’s not about to throw out the brand’s more than 50-year heritage. There were shoes and women’s bags in the house’s signature intrecciato woven leather. But more than anything else, Lee brought a sporty vibe to the fashion house in a way that shows he is not afraid to experiment and have some fun. And in an industry that can often take itself too seriously, Lee’s runway felt like a breath of fresh air.
It’s now been more than four years since Gucci’s Alessandro Michele first introduced himself on the runway, but it’s somehow hard to even imagine the brand before he was there. So completely has he reinvented the label, so ubiquitous are his designs and his influence, that it feels like Gucci and Michele were just waiting to team up all these years. And now, he’s clearly feeling free to have some fun.
Not that you’d know it from the opening of his spring/summer 2020 show in Milan. The 21 models who opened the show emerged constrained in what resembled a series of straight jackets, before the show’s second part began with a more traditional Michele offering. Traditional, but far from boring.
While previous seasons have been stamped with logo-heavy designs, this collection was relatively understated on that front, opting instead to bring colour, clean lines and an undeniable sexiness to the range. There were riding crops, chokers and sheer dresses, while the men sported prime colours and flared trousers, like a Wes Anderson movie on steroids. It was a refreshing update on previous seasons and proof that even free of loud logos and prints that people have come to expect, the collection was still unmistakably Michele.