Making it real
In tImes Of glObal upheaval, fashIOn seems tO be a luxury Only the elIte can Indulge In. but luxury gOt real On the runways Of mIlan
The year 2016 saw a lot of economic and political uncertainties. From Brexit to Trump’s presidency and a host of other issues, many felt perplexed as they grappled with the reality that followed. On a somewhat similar note, the fashion business underwent its own share of upheavals. What with the rising number of brands combining their men’s and women’s shows or streamlining their lines, the season was a doorway to an unpredictable future. A lot of things are going to change, that’s for sure, and everybody did their best to get a grip on things. This usually meant reconsidering every move and staying close to the ground.
Fully embracing this approach was Etro, which once again featured real people—not just models— on its runway shows. While this was not exactly new, the brand’s willingness to give those men a virtual carte blanche to pick whatever they felt suitable to walk in was a serious deal. And this proved to be a huge success. The lineup kicked off with Pablo Arroyo, creative director of L’Officiel Hommes Paris, donning a beautifully- cut suit with an eye- catching kimonoshirt featuring ikat print, a traditional textile from Indonesia. The infusion of ikat into the whole spring/ summer collection was pretty significant, although the theme for the show was intriguingly titled “Blue Ikat,” referencing a fisherman-like silhouette in the styling. There was no official mention regarding the origins of ikat, but interestingly, Etro made an effort to put a personal tag on each item that reads, “Fatto a mano, con Amore, for You, on the Italian Peninsula”— the first part of the phrase translates into “made by hand, with love.”
Speaking of love, Etro’s spring/summer ’17 runway was quite unique in another way. There were designer Kean Etro’s grandsons as well as his brother-in-law strolling down the catwalk with ease—the latter barefooted, even. No one, however, could beat the appearance of Igor Ramírez García-Peralta, as the bleached-haired founder of Solar magazine marched in a comfy sweater and billowy patterned pants with his beloved dog on a leash. While most runways thrive on fierceness, this one touched on a personal connection that elevated the whole presentation.
Kimono shirts were also a hit at Diesel Black Gold. Made using fine denim and slapped on with big pockets, these pieces by designer Andreas Melbostad served as a reimagining of everyday uniforms inspired by photographer Irvin Penn’s “Small Trades” book. A similar hodgepodge of influences was evident on Gucci’s lush, green jade- colored runway. Inspired by Marco Polo’s fabled journey to Cathay and Manji (now part of China), the collection was rich with Asian icons, such as tigers, dragons, birds of paradise, but also, oddly enough, Donald Duck. Creative director Alessandro Michele really knows how to attract Gucci’s demographics, including millennials.
With Prada, it’s never straightforward about cultures and logos. Season after season, there is always an ideology underlying every collection. On its spring/summer ’17 runway, however, many things simply didn’t feel right. Most models carried a rucksack, sported socks- on-sandals and waterproof jackets (or fancy raincoats, that is). They looked, at a glance, almost like dandified versions of contestants from “The Amazing Race.” The finale, then, looked like some sort of fashion exodus where the models trudged in all seriousness with piles of accessories, jackets and more on their backs.
There was little explanation given, but Miuccia Prada referred to some of the current problems plaguing the world— Syrian migrants and climate change, among others—as her point of departure from the season before. The “migrants” theme, in particular, did rhyme with the exodus-like finale and somewhat explained why some of the models wore rubber sandals while fine leather shoes were hanging from their backpacks. There was also a reference to global warming in the form of a nylon raincoat and backpack that were emblazoned with a blown-up print of a weather radar display. While in no way chic, they made a strong, uncontestable statement.
A different interpretation of what’s real and what’s now unfolded a new face of Versace Men. After a “Space Camp”-themed fall/winter collection, Donatella toned her styling direction down to offer more wearable options. It was said that the collection fully celebrated the infusion of active-wear, hence