Milan Men's Fashion Week SS19: How Ermenegildo Zegna, Marni and Versace punched above their weight


The big names opened Milan Men's Fashion Week SS19 with a bang

Summer is a tricky beast. Short of making like a one-trick pony and sending out a parade of linen tailoring, shorts, and silk, what else can a designer whip up to impress with the heat in mind? Well, Alessandro Sartori had plenty of ideas, drilling down on one vital word: Weightlessness. It came in the runway — a mirrored bridge suspended over water outside the Oscar Niemeyer-designed Mondadori headquarters. It came in the suit jackets and trousers — tailored boxy and roomy this season. It came in the design trope of perforation, on scores of garments — trousers, anoraks, baseball caps, a leather sweatshirt, an entire suit jacket. They were made for keen and smart layering, allowing the collection's key motifs (cued by Sartori's personal memorabilia and tennis as a hobby, as we overheard at the resee) to shine through in all its sporting glory. The collection's technicalities beg a mention too. Say, the cashmere pieces treated to a waterproof membrane, ready for a parlay outdoors. The new, chunky patchwork leather sneaker silhouette to come from the brand brought us to that younger, edgier sentiment that echoed not just in the aforementioned singular pair of kicks worth stunting, but in suiting styled with chains on skin and treated, acid denim in a punchy plum. This direction felt authentic, unlike a dad struggling to keep up with his 20-year-old son. While Ermenegildo Zegna is a brand that has always had traction with a more grown-up audience, this collection could very well be the one that scores them a spot in the millennial heart.

Our fear of missing the Marni show was real. Google's suggested route would take us past the Duomo, which so happened to be barricaded (and at a wide radius at that) for a concert. Cue: a major detour that saw us making it in the nick of time, perhaps thanks to those still finding their way over from Dolce & Gabbana earlier which too, ran behind. It was jarring, rushing in from the fine Milanese sun this time of year to a dimly lit underground carpark awash with red lights, with the sounds of ping-pong balls bouncing continuously and then perching on seats made of exercise balls. We raced to the show to find that Francesco Risso wanted to talk about sports. Heh. What stood out were the use of a terry cloth-like material — or that of towels — for printed bathrobes (shoutout to Miu Miu SS17) and "bathroom" slippers, the appropriated sports jacket with sleeves rolled up, the baseball shirts layered over. We did love Risso's gift in colour that's well-aligned with the Marni of before. While the collection ran what seemed like the entire Pantone catalogue, it never once felt disruptive — only cohesive.

Like ABC soup, the longer the Versace collection steeps, the better it gets. First impression: the in-your-face prints and (apparently fake) python-everything screamed new money. Except new money seems to be committing a lot of their dollar to a different clout these days, something along the lines of Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton. Though, looking at it again for the second, third, fourth time post-show, Donatella Versace's concoction of sexy and swag goes beyond the sake of frontin'. Without letting go of Versace's core — the loud prints (this season, a flower, jewel and chain mash-up and, a newspaper print), skin-tight button-downs and barely-cover-your-ass dresses — there was an artistry and judiciousness that pleasantly surprised. The newspaper-splashed shirts were balanced out by boxy pinstripe jackets; there was beauty in the simplicity of matching floral button-downs and bucket hats; that one gossamer outer breaking up heavy print-on-print, a visually stimulating feast. Not to mention, there were full-tone outfits interspersed for good rhythm: in white, in black, in tan appliquéd with lace and, head-to-to Day-Glo green and pink. Yes, they helped cut through the madness that is a Versace collection, but as isolated looks, they too were non-compromising in the brand's over-the-top fashion.

All coverage from Milan Men's Fashion Week spring/summer 2019


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Text: Andrea Sim

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