Milan Men's Fashion Week SS19: Sunnei, Prada and Giorgio Armani look on the bright side of life

Text: Andrea Sim

Sunnei gets childlike, Prada’s irony feeds the imagination and Giorgio Armani presents the travel wardrobe we all need

A very detailed mind map greeted us on the 31st floor of the Palazzo Pirelli building. At its core, read uomini e donne (translation: men and women); Sunnei's Lors Messina and Simone Rizzo were due to show their first combined show and debut a women's line since its menswear-only start on Instagram. Amongst curiosities scrawled on the paper such as "watch the collection, focus on the movement, touch your neighbour" is the musing "journey into childhood". Once the show got going, they made sense. There were baggy dungarees and snap-off trousers on men, ringer tees tucked into jeans on women. Bleeding onto both genders were the sunny colours — orange, blue, yellow — on striped garments and also the shoes all round, and wallets accessorised around the neck. For the ladies, the footwear was beyond chunky. High platform wedges with soles just shy of bulbous made them look oversized, though they really weren't. Messina and Rizzo's spring/summer 2019 collection was a journey from childhood to adulthood, like a child slipping her small feet into mum's high heels, being dressed in clothing too large so they can grow into them and having their wallets hung round necks lest they get lost. Even the hoodies, cut just big enough to make the models feel tiny without veering into Raf territory and styled with the hood up, felt not streetwise but boyish. The final look was an office-y ensemble — a white blouson and khaki knee-length skirt. A symbol of adulthood perhaps and a coming of age. 

One of the hardest and also funnest things to do at fashion week is to make sense of a Prada show. It's open knowledge that Mrs Prada is a designer as convoluted and brilliant as they get. Rather than engage in the game of 'is it, or is it not', we'd much rather let our imagination run with what mishmash of cues she dishes out. The first today was the minimalistic show space, boasting little else except plastic sheeting from wall-to-floor (à la Dexter's kill room) with matching inflatable plastic seats, each bearing coordinates on the floor right beside where they were placed. Then, an oxymoron: the tinniest shorts you could imagine were often paired with a triple layering up top and chapka hats made for sub-zero weather. The incongruity only continued. Boat shoes, a series of printed turtlenecks and jackets with cityscapes, mountains and lakes, a whole host of cheery florals and ruffled dress shirts matched with again, shorts. It was here, amidst the puzzling mix, that the show's barren set-up suddenly lent a transformative power. Perhaps it represents a clean slate to become whatever you so desire. Was it to call to mind a boat party on the high seas? Perhaps a frigid Russian winter or tanning with mai tais by the beach? Yes, to all of the above. Was it to champion today's growing freedom to be ourselves? If that's the case then Prada's expression of liberation begins with the dissolve of dress codes, where a hoodie at dinner would fly as well as a cocktail dress, much like the winter hat can with summer shorts. Practically speaking, one could after all be coasting in Milan's heat today and waiting out Australia's winter the next. Oh how wonderful it is to be alive in 2018.

The show space wasn't large by any means, but stepping into a Giorgio Armani show is like no other. Seats ran seven to eight rows, stacked upwards like a sporting arena and filled to brim with spillover to boot — those standing would end up craning to catch a glimpse of what Mr Armani would send out in his stamping ground this season. As soon as the first looks — brown leather vests paired with khakis and greys in relaxed cuts — came out, nomadic undertones were apparent. It was fortified in the leather backpacks many a model were styled with; the languid double-breasted jackets with shawl collars often worn straight on skin, looking like they belonged to an evening in Nice rather than the boardroom. Trousers often came pleated and billowy with casual, cuffed hems. The collection's colour palette said it all: soft blues, purples, pinks, greens... on graphic vests and what looked like Chinese-influenced prints from where we were standing. If this isn't Armani in, for the lack of a better word, wanderlust, then we'd really like to see what he holidays in. 

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


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