Best shows from MMFW SS18: Diesel Black Gold, Emporio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Marni, Neil Barrett and Versace
Welcome to the first full day at Milan men's fashion week for the spring/summer 2018 season. It's going to be a packed circuit with back-to-back shows squeezed into three days instead of the normal four-day schedule. Talk about hectic. But with editor-in-chief Norman Tan as your audio guide — reporting live from the best shows in Milan — all you have to do is tune in daily to get the down-low on the latest fashion trends, must-have accessories for next season, and all the crazy shenanigans in-between. Stay informed, get inspired, and don't forget to enjoy the ride!
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DIESEL BLACK GOLD: LAYERED LOUCHE
Designer: Andreas Melbostad
All you need to know: A combined men's and women's spring/summer 2018 collection that opened with the stunning Kiki Willems — in her now signature crop of fiery red hair — flaunting a billowing navy slip dress layered over another slip in a contrast check print, which was then worn over a long-sleeve tee. As for the gents, think: Peacock blue hooded parkas layered under short-sleeve outerwear and then paired with knee-length leather shorts worn over leggings. Yup, it was all about layering like a player. Fantastic styling with the femininity of silk on girls hardened with studded belts and leather boots, whilst the tenacity of boxy menswear softened with flat-soled leather sandals. On point.
EMPORIO ARMANI: KICK ASS, KIMONO STYLE
Designer: Giorgio Armani
All you need to know: The great thing about Mr Armani is that you can always bank on him to deliver soft-shouldered tailoring cast in his signature palette of blacks and blues. And, for his Emporio Armani line, this classic design ethos is often infused with active elements to resonate with his younger target demographic. For spring/summer 2018, this dynamism came in the form of martial art influences — kimono-style closures on tops and oriental brocade crafted from gold and red thread — with a model-cum-martial-artist performing round-house kicks down the runway to hammer home the point. But there's more, folks. To close the collection, teenage heart-throb Shawn Mendes took to the runway to push the new Armani Connected digital watch, punching the air and pointing to the watch (just in case you forgot what he was promoting) and all this after they screened a TVC of him dancing with the timepiece. Very hard sell. But for what reason? Aren't his followers overwhelmingly teenage girls and not men with the appetite to purchase EA? Interesting strategy.
DOLCE & GABBANA: #DG
Designer: Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana
All you need to know: With music from Shawn Mendes blasting over the speakers (and on repeat, I might add) I was convinced that Mendes would also make an appearance on the Dolce & Gabbana catwalk; performing live on the runway just like Austin Mahone in previous shows. But to my surprise, there were no live performances at all. Instead, 'Scared to be lonely' by Dua Lipa and Martin Garrix provided the soundtrack for yet another #DGMillenials runway taken over by a rowdy cohort of digital influencers handpicked by Dolce and Gabbana to represent their brand in this new digital age. No longer novel, the act has clearly lost its lustre with editors in the front row seated cross-armed and scowling. The best part of the show? Those bags with the letters '#DG' forming the handles. Smart.
MARNI: NATURE BOY
Designer: Francesco Risso
All you need to know: There was a boy / A very strange enchanted boy / They say he wandered very far, very far / Over land and sea... With two poetic covers of Nat King Cole's 'Nature Boy' as the soundtrack to the collection, the Marni men's show was a refreshing study in creative patch working and pattern mixing — oversized shirting constructed from frayed fabrications; straight-cut suits stitched from multi-tone wools; and floral prints expertly contrasted against a teal Argyle vest. It was such a welcome exhibition of fashion as a form of artistic expression after the commercial push of Dolce & Gabbana. This was the wardrobe of a boy searching for himself; a shy boy finding identity by foraging for a tie to wear with his relaxed suit, a swatch of striped poplin for a half-tucked shirt, and a belt to tie around his leather luggage. The message? Be a seeker and an adventurer, both intrinsically and sartorially.
NEIL BARRETT: RIGOROUS MINIMALISM
Designer: Neil Barrett
All you need to know: Neil Barrett loves a bold motif. For spring/summer 2017 it was lightning bolts, but for spring/summer 2018 it's horizontal stripes inlaid into jackets, emblazoned across blousons, and patterned across T-shirts in reflective silver or gloss tape. Barrett was inspired by the minimalism of the 1990s and, as such, sent out male models in a monochrome wardrobe of essentials routinely topped off with an unembellished bucket hat. It's a collection for the lazy stylist — simply close your eyes and point, and you'll find something that will match. Colour was introduced in the form of camel and hunter green on uber utilitarian over shirts worn with matching trousers, but it was the peacock blue blousons (not quite teal and not quite aqua, but with an undeniable iridescent punch) that stood out; as did his rigorous and robust simple silhouettes that goes against the trend of fluidity that we've been seeing on the runways.
VERSACE: ROCOCO RENAISSANCE
Designer: Donatella Versace
All you need to know: Held in Palazzo Versace on Via Gesu (just off the shopping strip of Via Monte Napoleone) the latest men's show by Donatella Versace was a return to opulence for a brand that has been aggressively championing athleisure of late — case in point: amorphous nylon parkas billowing down the runway for the past two seasons. With the sun casting long afternoon shadows in the garden courtyard, and guests seated around café tables alfresco style, it was an intimate approach to showcase the latest spring/summer 2018 collection that included white silk shirts outlined with the maison's signature Rococo border; pin-striped navy blazers embroidered with white floral baroque motifs; and, a personal favourite, that baby blue Versace logo tee tucked into vintage-cut jeans in the same hue (there was also the exact same look in blush pink). It was a little bit nostalgic — the sexy and powerful appeal of classic Versace — but updated with trucker jackets and baseball caps crafted from silk scarves (shouting with boisterous vivid prints) interspersed with the odd tracksuit (one even came in gold lamé) and pool slides (encrusted with crown motifs) for the millennials. Everyone's happy.