We look back at Milan, which wrapped up last week. It’s a city where old sartorial traditions are upheld while a younger generation of designers simultaneously seeks to introduce some modern edge. Where impeccably made suits rub shoulders with new and energetic takes on sportswear from rising stars and Milanese mainstays alike. Which is to say, it’s a pretty damn exciting place for menswear right about now. Here are a dozen collections worth knowing from the fashion capital’s Milan Fashion Week 2016.
Nothing characterizes the current relationship men have with fashion quite like the NBA’s ongoing love affair with clothing. Former Knicks player and current Suns starter Tyson Chandler admitted he had a predilection for capes just three years ago, and the comparisons to Larry David’s “caped lawyer” cameo on Seinfeld ensued. But there were men’s capes on the Prada runway, one of Milan’s flagship shows for one of the most prestigious luxury houses out there. And you know what? They weren’t bad. Much of the collection carried a naval-inspired flair, and with standard-issue clothing’s pragmatism informing so much of how men dress today, perhaps we’re in a new era of stylish caped crusaders? After all, the bear pelt Leonardo DiCaprio draped over himself in The Revenant looked pretty comfortable.
As if on the same mental wavelength as Miuccia Prada, Stefano Pilati also made a solid case for the men’s cape on the runway. Zegna, a prestigious tailor known primarily for its suiting (and its ability to class-up formerly schlubby dudes like Steve Carell), showed a more fun, daring collection this season. As the idea of the suit and its place in the modern man’s wardrobe is shifting, it behooves the label to court a younger consumer while also making mature, aspirationally stylish clothes. Drawing heavily on prints this season, the brand presented floral mac jackets and oversized embroidered sweaters that may not be the type of items that the typical Zegna man is looking for—but for the type of shopper who makes his money in start-ups instead of hedge funds, the envelope-pushing style is just right. And not to worry, Zegna loyalists: The house still has plenty of understated, eminently wearable tailoring to get you through the workweek and beyond.
Bottega Veneta’s fall/winter 2016 collection was a bit thin on the leather. Surprising, since the house is pretty much synonymous with the stuff. But under the creative direction of Tomas Maier, the label’s menswear offerings predicted the sporty “athleisure” trend far before it became a marketing buzzword (or an actual part of the current fashion zeitgeist). Considering his position at the front of this particular pack, what isn’t surprising is that Maier has progressed from the elevated-athletic aesthetic and delved into more experimental items like spray-painted ties, ombré colorblocked knits, and especially attractive double-faced mac jackets that were a slubby solid color on one side and a bolder plaid on the other. The leather was there all right, rendered in bright blue and dark red duster coats, loden green bomber jackets, and plenty of the handsome leather bags for which the company is so well known.
Brunello Cucinelli’s latest collection is essentially an homage to the transformative power of bringing a tailored piece into any outfit. In a style climate where dressing up often means just throwing on a sport coat, Cucinelli gives the sporty “athleisure” trend a higher-end feel with luxe fabrications and a great balance between dressed-down sweatpants, minimal sneakers, and tailored jackets and trousers. You always hear about how the new way to wear a suit is to break it apart, and the master of Solomeo shows us how to absolutely nail the idea.
RALPH LAUREN PURPLE LABEL
An expert in universe-building, it’s no surprise that Ralph Lauren’s latest Purple Label collection seems like an epic crossover between some of film’s most iconic characters. There’s Tom Hardy’s Bane from The Dark Knight in an elongated shearling jacket, standing next to Oscar Isaac’s Abel Morales from A Most Violent Year, clad in a peak-lapel loden green polo coat. And it only gets more eclectic from there. Owen Wilson’s Eli Cash from The Royal Tenenbaums makes an appearance in an off-white suede fringe jacket, and Tom Cruise’s Maverick from Top Gun arrives via a colorblocked bomber with matching pants (styled with a helmet, naturally). Native American-inspired shearlings and fur toggle jackets prove there’s even a place at this alpha-male party for survivalists like Robert Redford’s Jeremiah Johnson, while, on the other side of the spectrum, several James Bonds appear, in a velvet tuxedo (Daniel Craig) or an embroidered floral dinner jacket (George Lazenby).
If menswear is notorious for moving at a glacial pace, then Canali, under the creative direction of Andrea Pompilio, is the house throwing a little more heat into the equation (but, you know, in a good way). The fall/winter 2016 collection pushes boundaries while playing within a very distinct sandbox. There’s no question here that the flagship products are the tailored pieces, but strong outerwear (like parkas made from suiting wool) serves to show even the stodgiest of men that options never hurt. Aubergine and loden green suits may not prove popular options for CEOs and world leaders any time soon, but could definitely make the right guy feel just as important.