Milan: Seven labels that advanced the menswear fashion vernacular
There was a great of talk in Milan about 'sprezzatura', Italian for relaxed and being at ease, notably at Brioni and Bottega Veneta. A suggestion that the city and its fashion needs to lighten up a little to entice new generation millennials to be consumers.
Sprezzatura was also the leitmotif of two emerging young designers and indeed of two of the season’s most venerable – top-end Neapolitan tailor Kiton and the peninsula’s most joyful knitwear resource Missoni. Here are seven labels that advanced the menswear fashion vernacular.
At Bottega, one had to admire the way in which its new British-born designer Daniel Lee linked menswear and womenswear – using similar fabrics, most tellingly second-skin leathers; deconstructing tailoring and playing about courageously with the house’s signature material, intrecciato leather. He also showed some great leather belts with cinched horseshoe buckles; sure-fire winners all.
The results were all very admirable, if like the women’s collection he presented last month, a tad tame. One had to admire his lightweight cashmere dusters; to-die-for second-skin leather coats in what can only be described as Gilets-Jaunes yellow; and some boldly cut-out sweaters and cardigans.
Lee repeatedly described his debut pre-fall women’s collection as a “sorbet” or “palate cleanser”: accurate descriptions in our view of his menswear too.
Hence, his true test will have to wait until February when he shows a full collection on a Milan runway. That will be his main course.
Sprezzatura at Brioni, where a new designer Norbert Stumpfl presented his ideas in the house’s new showroom. Ironically, a magnificent top-floor space a central San Babila, in the apartment once owned by Patricia Gucci. Yes, she is the wife who paid to have her husband Maurizio Gucci murdered. No, not exactly nonchalant.
A new voice, hence, at Brioni, where Stumpfl’s take on sprezzatura was best highlighted by several remarkable looks in astrakhan. Stumpfl used a combination of the fur and cashmere knits to dream up some uber-nonchalant blazers and redingotes. His leitmotif was a black and white military stripe seen in classy interiors and even a shaved mink scarf. Norbert even produced a pair of mink slip-on shoes. Now if that isn’t sprezzatura, what is?
Bed J.W. Ford
Bed J.W. Ford is the house of self-taught talent Shinpei Yamagishi, who named his brand after the cool Brooklyn neighborhood, then stuck in J.W. to make the title sound cooler.
He debuted in Tokyo in 2016 then internationally as a guest designer at Pitti Uomo 94 last year. He has also collaborated with Adidas Originals and has appeared in the Amazon Fashion season in the Japanese capital.
“Sir, I always loved fashion and am fascinated by idea of making clothes. But I could not afford to attend a fashion school, so after school I did an internship in 2007 before deciding to launch my own brand. These clothes are about a young man dressing up but in a very sophisticated way,” he explained.
Yamagishi has all the virtues of an autodidact and a few of the flaws. He has a great sense of drama and an eye for what can flatter a young man. He’s a darn good tailor – his two black suits, done with flared and rolled up pants and crisply cut jackets with velour trim collars were both impeccable. While his long hooded parkas, thick wool trenches and Bladerunner topcoats – all finished with great spider-print interior lining – had real punch. Yamagishi makes clothes for rock stars that regular self-confident men can wear. In a word, Bed J.W. Ford may be named after Brooklyn but is a great addition to Milan Uomo.
The duffle coat is very much back in fashion, and nowhere more so than at Missoni. Angela Missoni’s version: a pale yellow and cappuccino-hued example in fine soft wool trimmed with grosgrain. Best worn by her handsome nephew Giacomo.
Otherwise, Angela impressed by taking a more tailored tack this season, eschewing some of the more posh hippie tendencies of recent collections. The result was a marvelous array of clothes – most notably the deconstructed herringbone, pillow soft cashmere double-breasted redingotes; the remarkable velvety plaid shirt jackets in misty autumnal reds and oranges and the dishy creamy yet chunky cable V-necks in burnt-out varsity colors. Luxury with a languid yet opulent air.
And an example of how this designer has found renewed energy since the family sold a 41-percent stake in the business last year to Italian private equity group FSI. Next up, the opening in the autumn of a major new flagship on Madison Avenue near Barneys, as momentum mounts at Missoni.
County of Milan
No group is causing more excitement and hype in Italy than New Guards Group, the corporate entity that includes Off-White, Heron Preston and County of Milan. In part, because they have enjoyed explosive growth, but also because the majority of its creative players began life as DJs.
The friendliest face is Marcelo Burlon, who presented his latest County of Milan collection in a giant old factory Saturday night. Backed up by a dark industrial soundtrack it was in fact a very noble reminder of fashion’s ability to make a positive statement about intolerance.
The big news was mainly in the styling – as Burlon riffed on modern-day gypsy style, or more correctly contemporary fashion worn by today’s Romany immigrants from Eastern Europe. Unlikely fabric combinations of animal print, camouflage, techy imagery and gritty street. A call for tolerance with some great club clobber.
Hard to think of any classier menswear label in Italy than Kiton, a family affair where the new generation was very much in evidence.
Blessed with a fully furnished showroom on Via Pontaccio, Kiton presented a vicuna room, with the deconstructed jackets that had the softest and most generous hand imaginable. Next door, they unleashed KNT by two savvy younger family members Mariano and Walter De Matteis. Urban sportswear with a clever twist – from the soft felt cashmere and wool blend hooded and zipped sweaters to street-chic hooded cardigans. Dash with cash and class.
One exciting new talent in Milan is Chinese-born Miaoran, who staged his fifth show in Italy. His debut was in Giorgio Armani’s headquarters.
“I wanted to express how I see Milan with my eyes. A special city, gray but elegant, always a little dirt and very cold. But inside it is like garden, with elegance and flowers,” explained the designer.
The result: a meeting of piped Mao suits and Milan; Chinese army khaki and hipster big collar Italian rock star cabans.
Miaoran came a decade ago to study at fashion school NABA, where he now teaches and is a trained pattern maker. That was clear from his craftily cut clothes that connected these two cultures together. Though in a co-ed show his best looks were for the ladies, notably some great waxed leather cocktails and a superb great coat for a gal not afraid to wear attention-demanding clothes.
“In the end, I am a straniero, so that is what comes out,” smiled the 32-year-old designer referring to the Italian word for foreigner.
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