On day three of Milan Fashion Week Men's autumn/winter 2020 season, some of the big guns in Italian fashion justified why Milan shouldn't be counted out just yet. Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo returned to the usual menswear calendar after taking a break last season, and Etro showcased a strong autumn/winter 2020 menswear collection.
Read on for more insights from the shows.
At Prada, you've always got to go deeper than skin deep to fully understand the narrative that Miuccia Prada presents. Yes, the show is about clothes (and this season's effort was pretty great), but at the same time, it’s more than just fashion. Shown at the Fondazione Prada Deposito, the fashion horde was seated on the second floor, peering down in anticipation at the two massive piazzas, each anchored by a podium statue of a man on a horse.
It seemed like a build up—the collection ahead would be charging with heroic looks to usher the new decade in. But that notion was thrown out the window when the first look hit the runaway: a well-fitted sleeveless shirt, worn under a tank-top and finished with nondescript trousers. The looks that followed were quintessential Prada tailoring—think boxy jackets, printed shirting, and slim trousers, worn with chunky leather oxfords.
They were not bad (if they're good enough to be one of the pillars that Mrs Prada has built her legacy on, they're good enough for us), but not exactly the kind of heroism that it was set up to be. In the post-show interview, Mrs Prada said, "I thought to give an indication that the only thing that makes me calm and optimistic is to give value to work; to give value to things that matter in your life and your work." She further elaborated, "Not heroic, but heroes. If you do your job well, paired with intelligence, and with culture, then this already is something."
For the autumn/winter 2020 season, the idea of heroism was viewed on the micro-scale, instead of a macro one. So no big-budget superheroes to save the day, but rather the celebration of the small things in life. Which means that we have to reframe the way we look at the collection. The silhouette remained the same, but Mrs Prada relooked at the various components in them and quietly celebrated them. The most apparent was the printed coats, and broken suiting in vibrant, poppy colours.
Other times, it was a strap of fabric that went from the hem of the trousers and wrapped around shoes like stirrup trousers, to coated shearling-lined waistcoats that were almost completely hidden underneath the jackets. That celebration was continued in rubberised flaps on the tailored jackets in neons, to punchy shirting that barely peaked out from the outerwear.
Often in this new era where bigger is better, and we have become desensitised to the celebration of the smaller things, Prada's autumn/winter 2020 menswear collection could not have been a more poignant message—doesn't hurt that it came with some really great garments too.
It's not often that you get to witness a designer come into his own and display full mastery over his creations. For Salvatore Ferragamo's autumn/winter 2020 menswear collection, more than just clothes were being sent down the runway: we witnessed the accession of Paul Andrew coming into his own as a menswear designer.
It might be only the second season since Andrew took over the creative direction of Salvatore Ferragamo's menswear, but its already one of the better collections from the menswear calendar.
For the collection, Andrews wanted to explore the evolving notions of masculinity in our modern times. "To find answers we began with six 'alpha' male archetypes—the businessman, biker, racing driver, sailor, soldier and surfer. Then we fabricated their attire applying traditional Ferragamo artisanship guided by a determinedly non-conformist attitude," said Andrew.
But instead of creating clothing based on the uniform of the different archetypes, Andrew took inspiration from the way men have been experimenting with different genres of style. The results were garments that housed different aspects of the different archetypes. Case in point: the very first look that was sent down the runway featured a peacoat with box pleats (sailor), rendered in herringbone tweed (businessman), worn with silk and wool leggings (surfer). Other times you see the deconstruction of traditional tailoring, with jackets paired with matching shorts and boots made with the same fabric.
But the most enjoyable part of the collection was watching how Andrew was able to distil these different elements and ideas into a collection that's timeless, desirable and functional. The key was in the clean and simple lines in the collection. The silhouette was immaculate and flattering, and the fabrics were so luxurious.
It's hard to pick a highlight when all the elements worked so well together, but the use of double box-pleating in the jackets and trousers, deserve mention. Such a simple technique but done so brilliantly that it changed the energy of the garments. In a sense, the box pleats were the perfect metaphor for the ethos of Andrew's take on Salvatore Ferragamo's autumn/winter 2020 menswear collection—brilliance does not have to be complex.
When you are part of a legacy, much of the work is dedicated to building on the foundations that were left behind. Kean Etro, the creative director of the Etro men's universe, has always been a maestro in that department. Not only has he pushed the creative boundaries of the house of Etro, but he's always implemented innovative sustainable techniques into his production methods, all while injecting a healthy dose of fun. When it comes to honouring and strengthening a legacy, Kean works in rarified air.
His work has always centred around the paisley and the bohemian aesthetic of the house. But for Etro's autumn/winter 2020 menswear collection, he chose to celebrate his father, Gerolamo Etro's legacy in a different way. The key lied in the oil painting portraits that filled the garage space of the show. All of them were collected by his father and left behind to him and his siblings. In an interview, Kean said of the paintings, "some of them are of our ancestors and others he bought because he liked the clothes. See that woman with the paisley sash? He liked uniforms, writing, and the military. I like that they are here today looking down on us."
The collection was a self-portraiture of his father's legacy, explored in a way the house has rarely done—pure opulence with a dash of over-the-topness. Think lots of tailoring in rich fabrics and vibrant prints. To make a point, look no further than the electric blue velvet suit, a leopard printed coat worn with skinny black jeans, and sumptuous coats draped over pinstriped tailoring. Even the casual wear had a certain gravitas to them, with cowboy-inspired ponchos, fringed tasselled jackets, and capes with golden embroidery. But even at the height of the collection's lavishness, the pieces never veered into the I-can-only-wear-this-at-a-fancy-gala territory.
The ethos of the collection is perfectly summed up in the series of vibrant coloured tailoring pieces shown at the end of the show—perfectly mixing high and low elements. At the end of the show, while taking his customary lap around the runway, he made sure to give some love to the portraits that hung on the wall. The legacy of Etro is in good hands.