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Category: Milan Fashion Week

Milan Fashion Week: Giorgio Armani's geometric prints charming

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The runways of Milan have been full of prints this week, from subtle, almost shadow-like (at Bottega Veneta and Etro) to beyond bold (D&G's foulard fest and Versace's swagger summit among them), but Giorgio Armani somehow managed to cover the range, with a menswear collection that focused on geometric prints that were just eye-catching enough to make the Armani man stand out, but not enough to get him singled out.

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That meant a collection of zigzags, checks and stripes ranging from blue microcheck button-front shirts to exploded hound's-tooth trousers. Black chevrons danced down white neckties, ombré  sweaters faded from black and gray checkerboards at the chest to dusky blue at the waist, and several different trompe l'oeil woven patterns appeared on sweaters, shirts and jackets.

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The boldest of the designs was a brightly contrasting black-and-white horizontal zigzag pattern that covered jackets, shirts and trousers -- but luckily not all on the same model. (Some patterns actually did play well together -- like one look that paired an exploded hound's-tooth check pair of pants with a zigzag shirt in the same white and dusty brown color combination.)

The color palette was grounded in black, white and gray, accented by a grab-bag of blue hues, and a few variations of brown, and the big story, silhouette-wise, were darted trousers that were nipped in at the waist and were cut generously through mid-leg, creating a billowy affect that stopped just the appropriate side of the drop-crotch trou popularized by M.C. Hammer. Jackets felt light and unconstructed -- which is no small feat when a fair number of them had the extra material that comes with a double-breasted jacket.

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Espadrilles have been a popular shoe on this season's runway, and Armani offered up his versions as well -- pairing the casual woven rope sole with luxurious material uppers including velvet, crocodile skin and suede, the standout pair being Armani's juxtaposition of a brogue upper to the espadrille sole. 

It's hardly a marriage that seems suitable, but as the high priest of menswear Armani has the skill to not only get an "I do" out of such pairings, but to know they'll live happily ever after.

-- Adam Tschorn, reporting from Milan

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Photos: Looks from the Giorgio Armani spring / summer 2012 runway collection shown during Milan Fashion Week. Credit: Top and bottom, Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images. Middle. Giuseppe Cacace / AFP / Getty Images.

Milan Fashion Week: Versace and the return of sartorial swagger

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Donatella Versace sent a colorful collection down the catwalk on Monday night, in front of a star-studded audience in the courtyard of the Versace palazzo on Via Gesu.  

The silhouette for the season hearkened to the Versace of yesteryear, strong at the shoulders with widened lapels, nipped in slightly at the waist and wider again at the hip. Similarly, trousers and shorts were tight at the waist and flaring generously at mid-thigh. (There were even a few neckties that looked like they could have been at least three skinny ties wide.)

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Fabrics favored wool/lined blends, washed silks and laser-cut cotton, and the color palette was one of the brightest I've seen on a Versace men's runway in many a season -- an explosion of bold reds, blues, and yellows mixed in with less vivid -- but equally as eye-catching -- pinks, oranges, caramel browns and grays.

Another nod to the past was the season's recurring motif for the season, a baroque-inspired print from the Versace archives (our fashion critic Booth Moore noted Versace had gone for baroque for the women's fall and winter 2011 runway collection), given a modern tweak and used on silk shirts, trousers, and thick terrycloth robes lined with silk.  

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Maybe it was the strong shoulder, the over-the-top, in-your-face prints, or the trousers festooned with so many buckles down the side of the leg they resembled mariachi pants, but there was a palpable sense of confidence -- no, make that swagger -- about the collection that had been missing as of late.

Maybe Donatella's got her menswear groove back again -- or maybe it was the fact that the next morning H&M would announce that Donatella Versace has collaborated with the fast-fashion retailer on a collection -- including men's, women's and home -- that also mines the Versace heritage. (That collection will hit American H&M stores on Nov. 19.) Whatever the reason, it's good to have it back.

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Among the famous faces in the front row for the show were actors Zachary Quinto ("Star Trek"), Darren Chris ("Glee"), Chace Crawford ("Gossip Girl") as well as professional basketball players Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony. At one point during the runway show, Wade could be seen excitedly pointing out a particular catwalk look to his stylist Calyann Barnett, who was seated in the row behind him.

After the show I caught up with the New York Knicks' Anthony (dressed in a dark Versace suit and sporting a gray Lanvin flower boutonniere in his lapel), who told me he'd just watched his first-ever runway show. Asked his impression, he answered in a single word: "Unbelievable."

But the stylish NBA star, who attended the show with a gray Lanvin boutonniere tucked into his lapel, had a few more words when I asked if he'd seen anything on the spring and summer 2012 runway he could envision adding to his own wardrobe.

"Oh yeah," he said. "There were some jackets -- a couple of those red ones, a couple of those yellow ones and there was a gold jacket I liked too."

It's probably a good thing he didn't mention the skintight trousers with multiple buckles running down the length of the leg from hip to ankle. I counted about 15 buckles for the version worn by the runway model, and making a Carmelo-sized custom pair of the knickers would not only nearly double the buckles, but give him a repetitive motion injury from the act of donning and doffing his knickers.

-- Adam Tschorn, reporting from Milan

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Photos: Looks from the Versace spring / summer 2012 runway collection shown during Milan Fashion Week. Credit: Olivier Morin / AFP / Getty Images.

Milan Fashion Week: It's Rajasthan on the runway at Canali

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Canali
, an Italian brand best-known for its men's suits, dates back to 1934, but it's a relatively new addition to the runway calendar in Milan (until two years ago, the label had been showing its collection in Florence at an event called Pitti Immagine Uomo), and since so much of suiting is in the details, I've always found it hard to get a good bead on where the brand is headed as it moves down the runway.

But not this time -- Canali clearly has its eye on Mumbai.

Acknowledging the brand's recent growth -- and growth potential -- in the Indian market, Canali's spring and summer 2012 collection was inspired by all things India (much the way the Chinese-themed fall and winter 2011 collection from Ermenegildo Zegna was an homage to its fastest-growing market).

The result was a Canali collection brighter and lighter than anything I can remember from the label in a long time. Standouts were the brightly colored silks -- fuchsia, emerald green, turquoise, orange, red and pink; and patterns that ranged from bold geometrics and tone-on-tone stripes to floral micro patterns and mandala-inspired designs.

In addition to the sea of silk -- a fiber that's commanded more than its share of attention on the men's runways this season -- there were more traditional fabrics such as wool and linen, as well as more Western-style silhouettes. But after serving up flourishes like the Nehru collar, the aforementioned mandalas and the tote bag emblazoned with the image of Ganesh, it's clear that this collection was Canali's love note to India, plain and simple.

-- Adam Tschorn in Milan

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Photos: Looks from the Canali spring/summer 2012 runway collection shown during Milan Fashion Week. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency

Milan Fashion Week: D&G fools around with foulards

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The collection sent down the runway for Dolce & Gabbana's secondary D&G menswear line  Monday was as light and breezy an afterthought as Saturday's net-themed social media spectacle was thought-provoking.

The entire collection made use of foulards, some pieces  made nearly entirely of the printed silken scarves -- including blousy bomber jackets, billowy blazers, and light-as-air T-shirts and trousers.

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Others were mixed-fabrication pieces that paired the lightweight fabric with sturdy denim in shorts and shirts. Even moccasins were fashioned from foulard-pattern-printed suede, and some looks were even topped off with foulard-wrapped raffia hats.

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At moments it felt as if the designers ducked into the closets, rifled through their silk scarf collections and decided, almost on a whim, to see how many different garments could be fashioned on the fly from the foulards.

Which kind of seems like a fitting level of effort, given that this is widely expected to be the last stand-alone men's runway show for the lower-priced label, which will soon be folded into the main Dolce & Gabbana collection. 

-- Adam Tschorn, reporting from Milan, Italy

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Photos: Looks from the D&G spring/summer 2011 runway collection shown during Milan Fashion Week. Credit: D&G.

Milan Fashion Week: It's a shore thing at Etro

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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.

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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.

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Etroscarf 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.

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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

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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

Milan Fashion Week: Missoni mines the Olympic moment, unveils second Converse collaboration

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Missoni’s runway collection was the second one this week to reference the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London (the first was Vivienne Westwood Man), paying homage to founder and patriarch Ottavio Missoni, who not only competed in the 1948 London Olympics but also designed and made the peacock blue jersey tracksuits that served as the official uniform for the Italian team. (That also happens to be where he met his future wife, Rosita.)

That blue tracksuit was the starting point for an informal and laid-back spring and summer menswear collection -- suits with unstructured two-button jackets instead of the zip-front of the original, and adding variation to the solid blue with a variety of yarns and texture (texture variation has been a key element in many of the collections sent down the runway this week). In addition to the navy blue hues of the suit, the predominant colors were mineral brown and khaki -- some of the earthy tones that have been unusually strong in the Milan collections this season, despite the usual emphasis on more vivid shades of color –- as well as Missoni’s signature shade of burnt orange.

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The emphasis this season was clearly on the knit pieces, which may seem a little out of place for spring and summer wares but fits nicely with the overall theme that’s emerged of favoring handcrafted, artisanal production (or at least pieces that evoke that feeling) over slick mass-production. That makes Missoni’s second collaboration with Converse (the first was a zigzagged version of the Chuck Taylor All Star high-top), intended to honor the legacy of Ottavio Missoni’s contribution to the London Olympics, all the more appropriate. It’s a nubbly, speckled, knit-covered version of the Converse Auckland Racer running shoe.

-- Adam Tschorn in Milan

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Photos: Looks from the Missoni spring/summer 2012 runway collection shown during Milan Fashion Week. Credit: Giuseppe Cacace / AFP/Getty Images

Milan Fashion Week: Gucci goes (gentlemen's) clubbing

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For the spring and summer offerings from Gucci, creative director Frida Giannini envisioned an exclusive British gentlemen's club, filled with "aristocrats, dandies and singers, noblemen and rockstars," with a dash of the sporting life thrown in by way of fencing and the equestrian arts.

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That meant all manner of Prince of Wales check rendered not only in suits but in waterproof nylon outerwear pieces, and leather accents -- inspired by horse harnesses and saddles --on leather and non-leather pieces including suit coats, biker jackets and hooded parkas.

Colors ranged from icy whites and blues to dusty browns and wine purples, with the occasional dash of burnt orange and flame red.

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Guccilast But the strong suit here -- literally and figuratively -- could be found in the evening wear: sharp-looking, strong-shouldered tuxedo jackets and silk faille pants, both with black-and-white graphics, including exploded checks, microchecks and plaids.

The last jacket to come down the runway was a finely woven mesh of platinum that was one of the few times I've seen a full metal jacket done in a way that didn't come off as dated and down-market as a mirrored disco ball.  

It's just the kind of thing that makes the luxe life look so good on the other side of the velvet rope.

-- Adam Tschorn in Milan, Italy

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Photos:Looks from the Gucci spring / summer 2012 runway collection shown during Milan Fashion Week. Credit: Giuseppe Cacace / AFP/Getty Images

Milan Fashion Week: Fencing crosses swords with ‘Star Wars’ at Moncler Gamme Bleu

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Headed into Thom Browne’s spring and summer 2012 collaboration with Moncler, I thought for a moment that the designer was finally starting to show honest-to-goodness signs of fashion fatigue –- hallmarks of which include the recycling of old ideas and the return to old venues. First of all, I could have sworn we’d been in the very same building a year earlier to watch him unveil a swim-themed collection around the indoor pool. Second, the show notes said this season’s concept was centered around fencing and tennis -– and again, I swear I’ve seen more tennis-themed Thom (though outside of Moncler Gamme Bleu) than you can shake a racket at -– and fencing is exactly the kind of no-brainer, aristocratic, exotic sport you’d expect to be fodder for Browne’s riffs.

But when the lights came down and the strains of John Williams’ “Star Wars” soundtrack started to fill the room, I knew my fear had been misplaced; Browne had wrapped in elements of the George Lucas mythology -– the faceless drones behind the fencing masks became the Storm Troopers, there were fair-haired Lukes (although no Leias) and even a few dark-garbed Darth Vader types -- one with a camera taped to his chest to simulate the Darth Vader gadgetry, and a second one, with a long, flowing, black cape in athletic mesh that kept getting stuck in the metal floor used for fencing matches.

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That the juxtaposition of fencing  and “Star Wars” provided so much entertainment was a good thing because this collection seemed to serve up less in the way of wearable wardrobe pieces than any Moncler Gamme Bleu to date. (Then again, maybe I was just preoccupied with trying to figure out which guy was supposed to be Grand Moff Tarkin.) There were a lot of quilted pieces and side buttons, a lot of layering of athletic mesh (although Browne’s been doing it for a while, it’s been popular on the runways at other menswear shows this week), and red-white-and-blue swimwear barely bigger than a square of toilet tissue.

The full collection includes outerwear, suits, jackets, trousers, shorts, shorts and accessories in cotton, lightweight summer wool, Oxford cloth, cotton pique, cotton jersey, cashmere and the requisite technical fabrics Cordura and ripstop nylon -– a nod to Moncler’s roots, across five color groupings:  white, black, navy and white, stripes and Prince of Wales.

Personally, I live for the day that Browne’s collaboration has exhausted all the appropriately aristocratic, European sports and finds himself faced with putting together a Moncler Gamme Bleu bowling-, NASCAR-, or Ultimate Frisbee-themed collection.

-- Adam Tschorn, reporting from Milan

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Milan Fashion Week: Prada packs a perfectly organized picnic

Photos: Looks from the Moncler Gamme Bleu spring / summer 2012 runway collection during Milan Fashion Week. Credit: Tullio M. Puglia / Getty Images

Milan Fashion Week: Prada packs a perfectly organized picnic

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For spring and summer 2012, Prada hit the golf course -– what else could come to the mind when you hear the phrase “geometric outdoors”? The designer said that was the goal of the indoor “field” -– the 600 foam blocks placed on a grid of artificial turf throughout the company’s headquarters and show space on Via Fogazzaro. A description of the space handed out to the media emphasizes the spacing of each foam cube and the strictly choreographed routes each model would take to assure maximum visibility. She described it as having “the audience participate in a perfectly organized picnic.”

But anyone who wasn’t thinking about golf when the show began, must have been by the time a handful of looks had gone by –- what with the red, blue and yellow floral-print golf bags, Prada wingtip shoes with golf-cleat soles and an assortment of headgear and trousers that would have looked right at home on the links.

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But Miuccia Prada never tips her hand at anything, and inspiration as straightforward as golfing –- even as the brand readies for a long-awaited IPO on the Hong Kong stock index and golf seems to be the preferred sport of corporate America’s high-rollers -– seems a bit like a red herring to me.

One of the allover prints that appeared on caps, shirts, trousers and jackets was different from the assorted bright florals that appeared in full bloom throughout the collection. It had a kind of late ‘50s, early ‘60s look that could be found just about anywhere, from the lining of kids sleeping bags (usually covered wagons and cowboys) to cocktail shakers (martini glasses and pink elephants) to the wallpaper of dad’s shag-carpeted rumpus room down in the basement (Playboy bunnies, martini glasses and cowboys). The people in Prada’s allover print seemed to be doing all kinds of things -- playing the tuba, doing handstands and sitting beneath a palm tree to name just three.

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Whatever they were doing, the figures on the fabric certainly looked busy, and busy might be the best watchword for the entire collection -– at least until I can take a closer look at it. Wildly floral Western-style snap-button shirts sported contrasting floral yokes and button plackets. On solid color versions, the plackets and yoke were framed in rows of chunky jewel-like stones. The uppers of some dress shoes were accented with woven raffia (raffia is having a moment this Milan Fashion Fashion Week), and others had contrasting leather fringe.

A commentary on golf, a metaphor for life, a desire for control over uncontrollable events –- like an IPO or a picnic? No one’s saying, but rest assured that when Prada packs a picnic, you’re guaranteed a feast every time.

-- Adam Tschorn, reporting from Milan 
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Photo credits: (Top and bottom) Olivier Morin / Getty Images. (Middle) Matteo Bazzi / European Pressphoto Agency

Milan Fashion Week: Woolrich Woolen Mills goes on a psychedelic safari

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The starting point for Mark McNairy's sophomore collection with Woolrich Woolen Mills was a favorite childhood TV show, and the ending point was Ernest Hemingway tripping out on the African sveldt.
 
"I used to watch this show called 'The Rat Patrol' that was on in the late '60s," McNairy explained. "It had three American soldiers and one British soldier driving around the desert wearing these crazy ascots and helmets." ("The Rat Patrol" live-action TV series, which ran from 1967 to 1969, also spawned a short-lived 1967 comic book by the same name.)

By the time McNairy's inspiration was grafted to the Woolrich Woolen Mills rootstock, it had morphed into something more akin to a psychedelic safari.

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"I imagined what it would have been like if Hemingway had gone safari in 1974 instead of 1954," McNairy said.

Vest The result is a couple of batik-meets-African-kente-cloth designs with pops of vivid yellow that appears on neckties, scarves, and camp shirts. Also in the collection: khaki safari jackets, trousers, shorts and shirts, camouflage espadrilles, woven pith helmets and an odd  hybrid of a lightweight hat that combines the cloth brim of a bucket hat with a domed crown of trucker hat mesh. The resulting "trucket" looked a bit like an athletic version of a bowler. (McNairy said it's a replication of a hat he found at the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena.)

If that's not Sid and Marty Krofft enough for you, there were also some seriously '70s-style screen-printed T-shirts in the collection. (Think hyenas -- in silhouette -- fighting over a piece of meat, or gazelles locking horns.)

My favorite piece -- and mind you this is coming from a guy who ends up at the European runway shows wearing a highly functional but hardly stylish Magellan travel vest -- was the multiple-pocket utility vests, McNairy's update of an L.L. Bean photographer's vest, in cotton twill with a tripod holder on the back of the vest replaced by a drawstring-closure pocket big enough to store an iPad or laptop with room to spare.

McNairy's quirky take might not be everyone's cup of peyote tea, but I, for one, can't wait to see where his trip takes me next.

-- Adam Tschorn, reporting from Milan

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Zegna takes a silky, sunbleached stroll on the sand

Photos: Looks from the Woolrich Woolen Mills spring / summer 2012 presentation during Milan Fashion Week; Credit: Woolrich Woolen Mills


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