Youthful dressing and streetwear were in focus on the third day of Milan Fashion Week previews of (mostly) menswear for next spring and summer.
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It's a game of sophisticated materials and edgy styling, of pushing boundaries and reaching for that increasingly significant, but typically not economically independent young customer.
Highlights on Sunday included Palm Angels, DSquared, Sunnei, John Richmond and Missoni.
Sunnei took a leap in sophistication with its co-ed collection featuring highly researched materials and calm, Zen-like silhouettes.
For the unveiling, founders Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo brought the fashion crowd to the white-washed concrete of a future public art space beneath a disused overpass in Milan.
Providing a snapshot of the 4-year-old brand's technical sophistication, the looks included textured yet translucent knitwear, which from the front row looked soft as a sponge. On closer inspection, the knit was closer to the actual marine sponge, resistant and just a little scratchy.
The super-light knitwear lent itself to layering - over knit pants for men and a long knit dress or skirt for women. There were matching knitwear duffels, and maxi bags took on the micro-bag trend shown on other runways.
While cargo pants may be disparaged by some, the designers embraced their utility without worrying that stuffed compartments would ruin the line. In fact, the male silhouette was boxy, with oversized shirts over wide fitting shorts.
Short denim jumpsuits were wide enough to suggest a dress and ensure comfort, while a lemon yellow belted jacket created a male peplum over a matching cargo trouser. Tie-back caps finished the looks.
For women, there were super wide elephant pants that could be worn with ruched bandeau tops, perhaps layered with a sheer tunic. Satiny skirt outfits came cinched with scrunchy belts that gave a springy feel. Platform sandals added as much as 5 inches (12 centimeters) in height.
The collection featured a palette of soothing white, mix-and-match green tones, sky blue and denim along with neutrals black and brown.
Rizzo and Messina declared wryly on one pullover vest, "I HATE 'FASHION,'" the strategic placement of the quotation marks indicating someone who tries too hard. The pair achieved the ultimate ease in Milan.
JOHN RICHMOND TAPS 1980S DNA
He's a biker or a clubber, a rocker or a raver, unafraid to wear a 1980s punk-era skirt or to layer trousers or shorts with fishnets.
John Richmond says the young man of today is ready for anything. And for Spring/Summer 2020, Richmond dipped back into his archive to bring back the punk skirt that graced the 1984 cover of Britain's The Face magazine, earning him a place in fashion history.
The updated cotton version comes in straightforward gray and khaki, worn with showy coordinated bombers with panels of snakeskin print or metallic detailing.
"Kids nowadays wear anything. You know they've broken all the rules. So you get guys wearing jeans which are hardly there. It's all changed," Richmond said.
Snakes and snakeskin prints were the chief motifs of the co-ed collection - but no snakeskin itself.
The collection featured architectural shoulders for her, accented by a cinched waist and flowing, pleated trousers for undulating movement. She might add a skin-tight tattoo top that Richmond said was "a montage of iconography, with rings and Bowie and all kinds of things."
There were slinkier looks for evening, including a sequined snake slithering suggestively over the shoulder.
Richmond has an eye on sustainability in his broader collection, and says it is easier to find eco-polyester. The looks in stores - not on the runway - will include reused vintage.
Part of the philosophy includes using footwear that is on the market. Here, Richmond collaborated with Converse for men's high-tops finished in sequins and studs with snakes or JR insignia.
Richmond has been relaunching his historic brand after losing control in a business dispute for two seasons. He says it is now growing each season and as part of his latest chapter, he plans to open stores in Milan and Dubai this year and Malaysia next year.
PALM ANGELS GO UNDERGROUND
Francesco Ragazzi took his popular Palm Angels streetwear brand underground, into the Porta Venezia subway station, where he staged his runway show for next spring and summer against a backdrop of greenery.
For Ragazzi, streetwear "comes from the underground, like vegetation. I want to give meaning to this."
Ragazzi said backstage that the collection was inspired by a vintage store in Anytown, USA, where varsity sportswear, preppy college wear, safari looks mix it up alongside discarded Hawaiian shirts and tie-dye garments from long-forgotten vacations and previous lives.
He chose a Monarch butterfly as the collection's emblem, symbolizing rebirth. It appeared first and most strikingly on the front of a black car coat, as if taking off, and on souvenir T-shirts left for show guests with the inscription, "They will ignore you until they can't."
The show opened with a leather shirt paired with trousers had a distinctive contrast black stripe down the inseam -- a stock item for the season in a range of combinations, black on khaki, khaki on black, red on black. These were paired with floral shirts or Palm Angels basketball jerseys.
Americana permeated the collection. A crisp white hospital shirt with a tiny U.S. flag was paired with deep-cuffed jeans. A dark hoody was covered with patches, the sort collected on vacation or as Boy Scout merit badges. Myriad butterfly brethren swarm a boxy white denim top, and white jeans, both with trailing straps. A short-sleeved down jacket with a sunset scene had a decidedly 1970s vibe.
Wrap-around sunglasses in black or white completed the looks, along with odd-ball knitted Nordic winter hats.
Milan-based Canadian designing twins Dean and Dan Caten stuck with co-ed formula to unveil a collection bursting with patterns, shapes and volumes -- and lots of attitude. There was an East-meets-West cross-over inspired by Bruce Lee films, which appear on movie poster T-shirts for him and for her.
The menswear had a fetish appeal, with leather trousers paired with lace or sheers tops. Floral silk boxer shorts stuck out of trouser waistbands, clashing with tropical tiger printed light silk shirts or kimonos that fluttered luxuriously at the slightest breeze. Trousers ranged from straight leg khaki to cuffed jeans. Wide-leg shorts with a frayed-edge denim jacket had a feminine silhouette, accentuated by a bright-red shoulder bag. A gold corset was partially unlaced under a dark car coat and olive jeans, offering a kinky surprise. Accessories included oversized backpacks, often camouflaged with patterns matching tops.
The women's collection had a 1980s vibe with tough-girl denim in ripped skinny jeans and short-shorts. A gold lame jumpsuit laced at the side waist heralded the gender shift in the runway show. Silk corsets were worn with jodhpur trousers, and sheer babydoll dresses offered an after-hours flouncy, femininity.
While younger brands sharpened their street smarts, Missoni is sticking with what it does best, luxury knitwear.
The newest menswear collection, previewed in a showroom presentation, was inspired by French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, who creative director Angela Missoni described as "one of the icons of my teen-age period."
"He wasn't the most handsome, but he had a lot of charisma. He was different from the crowd of men -- very cultured, very sexy and very unconventional," Missoni said.
The collection incorporates classic pinstripe, argyle, hounds-tooth and Prince of Wales patterns with Missonified-twists, to give the brand an urban edge. An argyle pattern is hand embroidered over a sweater. Pinstripe trousers come in powdery hues. And ethnic inserts give a new twist on the very French boat-neck knit top.
At Missoni, technical treatments are all in service of the knitwear. A car coat was treated with aloe for softness, with the additional benefit of having an anti-baterial layer. Another super fine cotton summer coat received treatments to make it water resistant, while maintaining the knitwear lightness.
MARCELO BURLON GIVES AN EASY RIDE
Argentine designer Marcelo Burlon's County of Milan collection brought together extremes of technical active wear and tailored suits.
The looks included Lycra running tops worn with a chino and topped with a bucket hat as easily as with runner's leggings and a flat runner's pack or with a notched suit jacket and matching trousers.
A graphic top and trousers touted 1969 motorcycle road trip film "Easy Rider" in movie poster style. The spray painting effect on sneakers and jeans gave the impression the garments had been tagged by a street artist.
For more sophisticated looks, there were polo shirts down up in fading-in-and-out color gradients of black to yellow.
For women, there was a long, high-slit tank dress with the same effect. A blazer gave a tailored finish to a zip-up athletic top and bike shorts. Women's jeans were worn looser and wider than the men's.
Burlon also showed off his children's line with a mini-model dressed in a two-button royal blue suit. There was a double-breasted version for adults.