Milan’s menswear this season has felt like a blip rather than a bang. It’s especially the case on the final day, with just two key shows early in the morning before the mad dash to Paris, where the European menswear shows come to a conclusion on Sunday.
Giorgio Armani’s mainline show had none of the vigour of his Emporio line, shown the day before. It might be said that in his position, Armani is allowed to indulge himself. But then with his skills and resources, it could be so much more.
There were some strong, individual pieces, such as the geometric knits, zip-up neoprene hoodies, and the signature soft cardigan jackets, a style prevalent elsewhere in Milan, but to which Armani owns to rights. Often there was fussiness, like an unnecessary stream of double-breasted military buttons down the front of a plain sweater, or the complicated wrap fastening on a shearling coat. There was clearly hard work gone into making the collection, but not much rigour.
The day dawned with the news that luxury conglomerate PPR had bought a 51% stake in Christopher Kane. That marriage of a French blue-chip buying into a small British label brings into focus the isolated state that Milan finds itself: no new designers, no sense of how it can make itself relevant in the 21st century.
I wonder if Mr Armani could provide the solution. His business is profoundly successful. Wouldn’t it be an interesting move if he were to ape Bernard Arnault and François Pinault, and used some of that money to set up new, separate fashion houses? It could happen in the same way that Comme des Garçons created a label for Junya Watanabe. It is something that could provide new impetus to his own work. Just a thought.
The day’s other show, DSquared2, was notable mainly for using only black models, a judicious swing in the balance of the shows, which have mostly featured skinny white boys.
The twins behind the label, Dean and Dan Caten, each season send out pretty much the same clothes with a different backdrop. This season it was a jazz era club, a theme which has little connection to the combat trousers, denim jackets and tux jackets for day that came down the catwalk.
Those poor models, only given exposure in a show where they then have to strip off to their underwear, throwing their tops into the audience like they’re in Magic Mike.
Full integration at both men’s and women’s shows, with ethnic origin becoming not even an issue, feels as remote a possibility as new design blood being given a chance in this city. We can but hope.