Monday, June 24, 2024

Milan Mens Spring Summer 2025

A fresh surge of energy invigorated Milan Fashion Week Men’s this season, with a distinct British influence: Martine Rose, known for her idiosyncratic menswear inspired by underground subcultures, made her debut on Sunday afternoon (16 June 2024). Heritage house Dunhill also joined the Milan schedule, with Simon Holloway presenting a collection he termed ‘radically classic’. Meanwhile, London-based JW Anderson continued to showcase its menswear collections in the city, this season presenting a collection titled ‘Real Sleep’ inspired by the slumber state of hypnotherapy.

¨The schedule was rounded out by the titans of Milanese style: Dolce & Gabbana, Zegna, Fendi, and Armani, while Massimo Giorgetti celebrated 15 years of his Milan-based label MSGM. Here, we select the highlights from Milan Fashion Week Men’s S/S 2025.¨ - Charles Daniel McDonald

Other highlights of the weekend included Sabato De Sarno’s second menswear collection for Gucci, which shifted to Monday morning (17 June 2024) at the Triennale Milano, the 1930s design gallery (continuing De Sarno’s aim to foster a link with the arts, having shown his Cruise 2025 collection at London’s Tate Modern last month). Prada, meanwhile, created a typically immersive set alongside OMA/AMO – a ‘fairytale ravescape’ featuring a cabin on stilts in the Fondazione Prada space – as the backdrop for one of the season’s defining collections.


A field of linen was recreated in a vast soundstage-like venue on Milan’s outskirts, near Linate airport, for Zegna’s latest runway show. Artistic director Alessandro Sartori aimed to make the blades of linen – constructed from featherweight metal strips – appear as if they were invading the industrial space. This juxtaposition of man and nature was the catalyst for the collection, which balanced precise tailoring with natural earthy hues of terracotta, beige, and warm yellow, and languid silhouettes. Much of the collection was crafted from linen – titled ‘Us, in the Oasi of Linen’ – leveraging the house’s expertise and innovation with the material, which is more sustainable than other natural fibres like cotton. ‘[Linen is] as malleable and sensual as the idea of summer dressing we are promoting,’ said Sartori, noting that it ‘moulds to individual personalities... [for men] who play buoyantly with their own appearance.’ Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, a house muse for Sartori, closed the show with an elegant runway turn.


Sabato De Sarno shifted Gucci’s menswear show to its final Monday, choosing the Triennale Milano, the city’s 1930s design gallery, as a new venue. The clean white lines and light-filled atrium of the Giovanni Muzio designed space provided a fresh slate for De Sarno, whose second menswear collection felt like his strongest vision for the Italian house yet. There was an optical clarity to the season’s looks, inspired by surfing, with graphic short-and-shirt sets, swim slippers, and luminous wraparound sunglasses worn on Gucci-adorned straps like chokers. The mood was youthful: super-abbreviated shorts (perhaps an ode to house ambassador Paul Mescal, who sat front row in his own pair of Gucci short shorts), sheer net polo shirts, and a vibrant colour palette all skewed younger than the winter season. Flourishes of embellishment, a signature of De Sarno, elevated everyday garments, such as beaded polo shirts or shirts and jackets adorned with dangling tassels, adding a feeling of material richness to an otherwise streamlined collection.


Mr Armani presented his eponymous menswear collection without any accompanying notes, allowing the clothing to speak for itself. This approach, a hallmark of his five-decade-long career, reflects his preference for considered design and quiet elegance over seasonal gimmicks and complex runway sets. Watched by a Hollywood front row including Russell Crowe and La La Land director Damien Chazelle, this collection was an exercise in Armani-isms: unstructured tailoring in generous proportions, diaphanous shirts and waistcoats, and a simple palette of Armani greige and navy. Travel was a theme, another hallmark of the designer, featured in hazy palm-tree-frond prints and straw or cotton sunhats. Joined for his bow by team members Leo Dell’Orco and Gianluca Dell’Orco, ‘Il Maestro’ received a warm standing ovation from the Teatro Armani crowd.


The slumbering between-state of hypnotherapy was the starting point for Jonathan Anderson’s latest collection, a free association of ideas showing the Northern Irish designer at his creative peak, balancing the strange and seductive in polished style. Looks emerged in threes: duvet-like quilted jackets, oversized utility gilets, and blown-up knit cardigans. Proportions were playfully manipulated throughout – silhouettes were stretched or shortened, with an enormous tie gleefully oversized. Coloured satin protrusions and bulbous padded T-shirts lent a sculptural feel, while surreal motifs emerged like repressed memories or dreams, with Guinness-adorned sweaters and knitted dresses featuring house images, as if from a children’s storybook. Part of the inspiration for the liberated, freewheeling mood was a recent trip to Barcelona’s Primavera Sound festival: ‘The experimentation with clothing among younger generations is incredible,’ said Anderson. ‘The eye has changed within menswear and womenswear. People want something that is really challenging.’


Before Martine Rose’s show – which followed Prada, just a few hundred yards away – people wondered how the London-based designer would bring her idiosyncratic, underground-infused menswear to Milan. Presented in a former industrial building with Martine Rose flyers scattered on the floor – reminiscent of 1990s raves – the answer was a resolute no. Models stomped and slithered with prosthetic noses (deliberately haphazard) and wearing matted wigs that almost dragged along the ground. Men wore pencil skirts and fishnet stockings or tailored trousers cut to appear like chaps (the crotch part was leather, an inversion of the expected), while women sported motorcycle jacket dresses. Martine Rose signatures recurred – shrunken football shirts, warped tracksuits, zip-away denim – alongside nods to nightlife and its dress codes. ‘When you’re young, you think your tastes will mature as you grow up,’ she quoted. ‘This is the irony.’



This season, the Fondazione Prada’s Deposito space featured a new installation – a small white hut raised on stilts with a long walkway leading down to the curving white runway below. From its windows and door, left slightly ajar, pulsated the sound of Faithless’s Insomnia, while flashing lights suggested an unseen party within. In this ‘fairytale ravescape’, co-creative directors Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons presented a collection reflecting ‘freedom, youthful optimism and energy’, as Prada reiterated backstage. ‘Youth is the future… it is hope,’ she said. The dynamic silhouettes were purposely creased, warped, shrunken, and exaggerated, ‘like clothes you already live with,’ said Simons. Shirts were skewiff and twisted around the body, narrow trousers sat low on the waist and pooled at the ankle. Some pieces demanded a second look, like trompe l’oeil Breton T-shirts with distorted stripes, or low-slung leather ‘belts’ set into trousers. Enormous visor sunglasses with lenses decorated with rave photographs, Roman statuary, and American highways, and prints by artist Bernard Buffet added a surreal edge. The pair focused on intuition and spontaneity: ‘Sometimes when you are older you start to overthink, and you limit yourself. When you are young, you just go,’ said Simons. ‘We wanted to create clothes that have lived a life, that are alive in themselves,’ they concluded. ‘There is a sense of spontaneity and optimism to these clothes - they reflect instinctive but deliberate choices, freedom.’


A serene Milanese garden near the city’s upscale Via Monte Napoleone provided the setting for Simon Holloway’s second collection for British heritage brand Dunhill, which shifted to Milan after debuting at London’s National Portrait Gallery last season. This collection continued to explore British dress tropes – particularly those for a summer season of sporting and society events – in pursuit of what Holloway called ‘radical classicism’. The collection ranged from casual – suede utility jackets with driving gloves, cable-knit sweaters, and pleat-front jeans – to sporty – rugby shirts, shorts, and striped varsity socks – and grand, like the final look, a black morning suit with an ivory silk scarf and cane. ‘These are not basic clothes for going into the office,’ said Holloway. ‘These are clothes for enjoyment, for a life well-lived.’


Unbridled horses frolicking in the surf, purple fields of lavender: the projections on the wall of the Teatro Armani showspace set the scene for an Emporio collection titled ‘Freedom in Nature’. Mr Armani transplanted his man from the urban sprawl into the wilds. The mood was one of adventure and abandon: plunging shirting paired with voluminous trousers and heavy boots – a nod to equestrianism – while superfine tailoring evoked safari jackets and kimonos. The focus on the waist ran throughout, from belted utility jackets to loops of leather narrowing the waist of the designer’s lightweight tailored blazers. The show ended with the scent of lavender as lederhosen-clad models promenaded with baskets of the flower. Joined by Leo Dell’Orco and Silvana Armani, who oversee the house’s men’s and womenswear collections, Mr Armani received an enthusiastic ovation, celebrating his 90th birthday next month.


Fendi left its usual showspace in the house’s Via Solari HQ (undergoing renovations and expansion), transporting guests to a studio lot-like venue on Milan’s outskirts. The presentation had a grand scale, reflected by enormous mirrored blocks dancing around the runway, reflecting both audience and models. Silvia Venturini Fendi, who heads up the house’s menswear and accessories collections, was inspired by a deep dive into the Fendi archive. The Roman house turns 100 this year, and the designer created a celebratory crest comprising four of the house’s motifs, including the famed double-F emblem, adorning sweaters and shirts. This lent the collection a varsity feel – Venturini Fendi spoke before the show about wanting Fendi to feel like a team, or club – with striped knit rugby sweaters and ties, plaid jackets, school blazers, and a playful riff on the football shirt. This was a uniform for the Fendi clan – and its wide-reaching international fanbase – to sport with pride in its centenary year.


‘Italian Beauty’ was the theme of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana’s latest menswear collection, marking a subtle shift from the sharp, reduced lines of recent seasons towards something softer, inspired by effortless Italian summers and actors like Marcello Mastroianni. Raffia, a distinct hallmark of Italian furnishings, was a prominent motif, used here for airy summer jackets and oversized polo shirts. Astute tailoring – largely double-breasted and worn with pleated trousers narrowing towards the hem – harked back to the 1950s. The collection was enlivened with embroidery and embellishment, such as delicate red flowers adorning crisp white trousers and jackets.


It was 15 years ago that Italian designer Massimo Giorgetti founded MSGM, celebrated with his latest menswear show in a former industrial garage on Milan’s outskirts on Saturday morning. The crisp, optical collection, inspired by the sea, was backdropped by explosions of primary-colour paint against Perspex boxes lining the runway. They were an ode to an early collection Giorgetti had painted after fearing it was too safe, referencing the broad strokes of colour and graphic motifs he has evoked over the past decade and a half. Here, they appeared in vivid patterns, from nautical stripes and colourful daisies to painterly seaside prints. Giorgetti said it was in his cliffside home in Liguria, near Portofino, where the ideas for the collection percolated. The mood evoked a Mediterranean summer: ‘the rocks, Mediterranean pines, agaves, the scent of salt and resin,’ he listed, transporting guests from a cloudy Milan to the Italian Riviera in typically uplifting fashion.

Milan Fashion Week Men’s S/S 2025 showcased a vibrant convergence of tradition and innovation, where storied heritage and contemporary creativity collided. The collections highlighted a commitment to sustainability, exemplified by Zegna’s pioneering use of linen, while the exploration of youthful exuberance and artistic spontaneity was evident in Prada and JW Anderson's daring presentations. Gucci’s vibrant surf-inspired lineup and Martine Rose’s subversive underground influences injected a dynamic energy into the week. The seamless integration of classicism and modernity by Dunhill and the timeless elegance of Giorgio Armani underscored the enduring appeal of meticulous craftsmanship. As Milan Fashion Week drew to a close, it reaffirmed the city’s pivotal role in shaping the future of menswear, celebrating both the rich legacy and the forward-thinking visions of its designers.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion

In its pursuit of sensory immersion and participatory elements, “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion”—the Costume Institute’s new exhibition, opened to the public on May 10, after the 2024 Met Gala, with a mission to break down traditional boundaries. This is achieved physically through the limited use of glass cases, and more intangibly, by engaging multiple senses. Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge, aims to evoke a kind of synesthesia (a neurological condition where stimulation of one sensory pathway leads to involuntary experiences in another) through smell, sound, and sight.

Bolton shares an anecdote from last year’s Karl Lagerfeld exhibition about a young visitor who instinctively wanted to touch the exhibits. Touch is paramount to both wearers and designers, but is typically forbidden in museums to protect fragile fabrics from light exposure and skin oils. Although physical touch remains off-limits in “Sleeping Beauties,” the idea is vividly alive. Bolton notes, “Your sense of sight is a way of touching…touching your feelings, your emotion, your memory.” This exhibition challenges the notion that sight is merely about looking, suggesting it’s far more complex.


Entering the exhibition feels like crossing into another realm, possibly the Land of Nod. The first exhibit is Constantin Brancusi’s ovoid bronze, The Sleeping Muse of 1910, a piece symbolizing an altered state of being. This sculpture, over a century old, speaks to the ongoing struggle of costume departments to justify their place in the art world. It also reflects Bolton’s cerebral approach to fashion exhibitions, which are always multilayered. The exhibition’s theme of nature is straightforward but nuanced with symbolism, portraying fashion’s cyclical and ephemeral nature.

Recent curatorial efforts have explored the Costume Institute’s collection in innovative ways. “Sleeping Beauties” examines how science can safely extract and showcase the sensory aspects of garments. Technological advances, such as dye analysis of a Mario Fortuny dress revealing the use of artificial colours, illustrate fashion’s slow adaptation to technology. Sound recordings in anechoic chambers and tactile elements like 3-D printed models and urethane panels provide a multisensory experience.


Sissel Tolaas, known for her work with Demna at Balenciaga, captured the scents of several historical dresses, including those of Denise Poiret and Millicent Rogers. The exhibition’s climax features a 1931 Callot Soeurs-designed wedding dress, with a customized ChatGPT addition, allowing visitors to ask questions about this “mermaid bride.”

"Experience the fusion of sensory immersion and fashion history at 'Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion,' where the past comes alive through sight, sound, and scent." - Charles Daniel McDonald

Garments in museum collections often lose their connection to the bodies they were designed for, transforming into lifeless art pieces. Bolton’s “Sleeping Beauties” references objects too fragile to be displayed upright, lying flat in a resting position. He writes, “Life is the key word in relation to fashion in a museum,” highlighting the radical transformation garments undergo upon entering a museum’s collection.


“Sleeping Beauties” builds on previous exhibitions, exploring fashion’s intangible effects. It follows the themes of simultaneity from “About Time: Fashion and Duration” and the role of technology from “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.” This year’s focus is on engaging the senses to provide a fuller experience, particularly for visitors with disabilities.

At a time when culture is leaning into immersive experiences, “Sleeping Beauties” expands our sensory engagement with fashion. Multimedia activations, overseen by Creative Consultant Nick Knight and realized by SHOWstudio, evoke emotions beyond the garments. The exhibition’s spaces connect like molecules, seamlessly integrating sight, sound, and smell. Bolton concludes, “We’ve reawakened garments in the past, mainly through interpretation—never really through the senses. This is the first time we’re literally bringing them back to life.”

Friday, June 7, 2024

Dior Cruise 2025 - Dressed To Kilt

What an array of emotions the skirl of the bagpipes can stir. For the uninitiated, "skirl" refers to that hauntingly beautiful, sometimes headache-inducing wail they produce. Bagpipes, with their mournful and wistful tones, are akin to Bjork in the realm of musical instruments: otherworldly and polarising. Maria Grazia Chiuri began and concluded her Dior resort show in the manicured splendour of Drummond Castle's gardens in Scotland with the evocative sound of bagpipes. As a Scot typically indifferent to their strains, I found myself unexpectedly and profoundly moved.

Chiuri's extraordinary collection undoubtedly evoked a myriad of emotions, intertwining Dior's rich heritage with Scotland's romantic, dramatic, and sometimes bloody history to stunning effect. Desire springs to mind, as this collection was quintessential Chiuri: garments rooted in realism yet transcending it. Her resort shows also provide a real-world glimpse into how women wear her designs, revealing a chic, effortless elegance in hourglass jackets, full skirts, and clumpy boots or beribboned slingbacks, regardless of age or physique.


The designer delved into Scotland's sartorial traditions. “Scotland holds significant influence in the fashion world,” she remarked during a preview. “I aimed to reinterpret it differently. While my generation associates it with punk, there's a rich narrative in the textiles themselves. In fashion, we often focus on shape, but textiles are pivotal—what you can do with them, and the transformations they enable.” Thus, Chiuri reimagined traditional elements—tartans, cashmeres, tweeds, and Argyles—crafting a collection inspired by the geopolitics of fabrics, Mary Stuart’s politically charged embroideries, and a nod to punk, exuding a defiant beauty and energy. Uncompromising, just as modern women must be.

¨Chiuri's extensive travel, expansive thinking, and meticulous research, guided by the writings of Scottish cultural historian Clare Hunter, highlight her quest for meaning in her work. “We often reduce fashion to brands,” she reflected. “But fashion is more than that.”¨ - Charles Daniel McDonald

Classic Dior bar jackets were reimagined in heathery plaid shawls. Corsets bore an armorial strength. Embroidered flowers adorned bodices. Evening dresses in black Jacobean velvet, with white lace encasing the neck and décolleté, were showstoppers. Gunmetal and gold lace, ruffled seams, leather chokers with pearls, quilted leather crossbody bags, and Chiuri’s signature boots completed the look. Collaborations with local designers and artisans, including Johnstons of Elgin for tweeds and cashmere, Esk Cashmere for knitwear, and Robert Mackie for ceremonial headwear, added depth. Chiuri even visited Harris tweed weavers in the Outer Hebrides, braving the November chill. She also partnered with Samantha McCoach of Le Kilt.

At its core, everything begins with Dior and its global legacy. Inspired by images from a postwar 1950s charity fashion show in Scotland, Chiuri was drawn not to its formality but to the candid shots of models mingling with locals. This clash of dream and reality is where the magic lies. This reflection on past shows likely influenced her thoughts on contemporary fashion. While her Scottish-themed resort show retained her signature realism, it was imbued with greater theatricality and flair than previous collections. Fashion’s three-dimensionality—literal and metaphorical—has never been more vital. This collection communicated profoundly, even resonating over the skirl of the bagpipes.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Virginie Viard Bows Out At Chanel

After 30 years, including the last five years as artistic director, Virginie Viard is exiting Chanel. The house confirmed her departure to Vogue Business on Wednesday. Viard was appointed artistic creative director in 2019 after Karl Lagerfeld passed away. The Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2024/2025 collection will be presented as planned on 25 June at the Opéra Garnier.

“Chanel confirms the departure of Virginie Viard after a rich collaboration of five years as artistic director of fashion collections, during which she was able to renew the codes of the house while respecting the creative heritage of Chanel, and almost 30 years within the house,” the house said in a statement. “A new creative organisation will be announced in due course. Chanel would like to thank Virginie Viard for her remarkable contribution to Chanel’s fashion, creativity and vitality.”