Kean Etro chose the shoreline as a metaphor for his spring and summer 2012 menswear collection, which gave him the freedom to present two different influences, crossing and mixing the two as effortlessly as the waves wash upon the sand.
One was a decidedly melancholy Mediterranean mind-set; characterized by tartans and checks in earthy tobacco and sand brown shades, and the trademark Etro paisleys muted to almost a shadow where they appeared at all -- which was mostly on jacket linings, knitwear and sailor-style duffel bags.
The other was a brighter, peppier and practically preppy approach: blue silk paisley and polka-dot designs, trousers in bright solid shades of orange and yellow, and navy blue blazers -- some with contrast taping on the lapels -- layered over chunky cable knit sweaters.
The prep effect was heightened by pants and shirts with all-over prints of nautical and sporty motifs including dolphins, sea horses, boats, anchors, tennis rackets and tennis balls.
The crossover pieces were long flowing scarves in a variety of floral and paisley patterns, sometimes knotted ascot-like at the neck but mostly billowing freely like sails in a sea breeze.
The nod to the nautical was emphasized by a blue scrim at the top of the runway, upon which shadows of sailing ships and seagulls were projected, and accompanied by a live soundtrack, which was performed by improvisational pianist and composer Cesare Picco, who used seashells to percussive effect as part of the performance.
Kean Etro is an enthusiastic designer, and once he's found his inspiration he often dives right in, so instead of feeling disconnected, the balancing act between the beach and the briny blue deep actually worked to his advantage.
-- Adam Tschorn, reporting from Milan, Italy
Photos: Looks from the Etro spring/summer 2012 runway collection shown during Milan Fashion Week. Credits: (top) Tullio M. Puglia / Getty Images; (middle) Olivier Morin / AFP / Getty Images; (last) Daniel Dal Zennaro / European Pressphoto Agency