MILAN — Two human reactions to turbulent times emerged as fashion concepts during Milan Fashion Week, which wrapped up its five-day run on Tuesday: cocooning and militarization.
On one end of the spectrum, designers offered men myriad forms of comfort for next fall and winter, including soft-cut jackets; enveloping cashmere, vicuna and alpaca knitwear; silken pajamas meant as street wear and the ubiquitous long scarf that in many collections substituted for a traditional tie.
Falling under the cocooning/emotional comfort trend, there was also a tendency toward returning to the past with embroidered details literally flourishing on jackets and trousers, especially denim; homely plaids for jackets and lumberjack shirts; and the sort of brimmed hats that project paternal security.
Rigid military looks led a counter-current, with battle-worn jackets, revamped uniforms and a plethora of double-breasted suits, albeit often softened with decorations and paired with gently fitting trousers. In keeping, bags tended to be utilitarian and large, shoes sturdy soled or boots.
At the more extroverted end of the fashion spectrum, designers made liberal use of tinfoil silver fabric, creating a futuristic feel to overcoats, trousers and sportswear, as a sort of projection to possibility, escape from the now. But overall the color palette was somber: dark, blue, black, deep green and grays.
Some highlights from the final day of shows Tuesday, with previews from Giorgio Armani and DSquared2.
SOFT ARMANI SILHOUETTE
Giorgio Armani's man for next season is a thinker and a traveler, in the image of William Burroughs.
A brimmed hat like Burroughs wore was a unifying device in the collection, giving definition to an otherwise soft silhouette.
Textures created an ethnic mood, suggesting journey. A pair of models strode the runway draped in blanket-like coats. They wore clingy knit tops with decorative North African geometric patterns along the collar and sleeves, which were tucked into loose-fitting trousers that taper to an athletic knit ankle.
While the designer preferred a looser silhouette, vests that gently curved down the front gave some looks easy discipline, worn under a cardigan or on top of a pullover. The same curve was repeated on elegant evening jackets with a Nehru collar, worn with velvet trousers that tapered to the ankle.
Colors were cool tones of blue and gray alongside Armani's personal favorites black and navy blue.
Russell Crowe had a front-row seat for the show, recalling the first time he met Armani at the Cannes Film Festival. The actor, having lost his luggage, said the designer offered his card suggesting he renew his wardrobe at his store.
Crowe must have paid heed, telling reporters he was wearing Armani head to toe.
"Armani socks, Armani shoes, Armani shirt, Armani suit," Crowe said, laughing. "Apart from that nothing else."
The kilt has gotten a martial arts makeover at DSquared2.
The Canadian designing twins Dean and Dan Caten creatively merged the traditional Scotsman's uniform with the deep-pleated Japanese hakama, traditionally worn over a kimono, for a cultural mash-up with a strong punk vibe.
The kilt was invariably worn over trousers, either knee- or ankle-length, and often was more of a flourish, with just half or one-quarter panel adding drama to a look.
Long and black, the hybrid skirt was elegant with a black blazer and turtleneck, just the thing for a Ninja on a night out. A sportier denim model was worn under a parka, while the short black mainstay proved versatile, equally matched with a kimono top, denim shirt or bomber jacket.
To underline the cultural crossover, the designers also gave it a run in a Manga print as well as traditional tartan, which was worn over matching trousers.
Take away the kilt, and the looks were pure punk. Leather jackets had fluorescent studs, worn with patched baggy jeans. An oversized parka had a spaceman's silver lining. Hiking boots were the favorite footwear.