Listen to this article
Finally, some precision. A sense of what clothing can do for the body is much needed here in Milan. It came at Bottega Veneta, which had a fresh focus on a long and lean silhouette. This was often created by unlined cashmere double-breasted tailoring. Suit jackets were cut a little longer, pants looked slightly flared but were actually dead straight. Some of the coats went lower than the knee. It was a strong point of view.
Some background: a couple of weeks ago, creative director Tomas Maier showed pre-collection for men for the first time.It means he’s already presented breadth of seasonal pieces a conglomerate brand needs to produce so it can fill its rails. Catwalk shows are just a topping. On the runway, he can now be super specific.
Maier has spent the past couple of seasons investigating the sportiness that’s now everywhere else in menswear, so it was time for him to move Bottega Veneta on. His cashmere tailoring was particularly fine, with just enough construction to give it shape, the cloth otherwise lying soft on the body. A long cashmere coat was a beauty. And yes, as with the general menswear mood right now, none of this tailoring was worn with traditional shirt and tie.
The opening was all in black, but soon came coloured and aged leather jackets; cotton/linen velvets that keep a crinkle; knits that were often needle punched. With the best pieces, worked here was consideration of proportion that allowed the wearer to forget. Put the stuff on and a guy would look great. Easy. Done. Now live a life.
At Calvin Klein Collection, there was precision of clothing – mostly – and precision of marketing. A 21-year-old internet star called Cameron Dallas was its guest, and the day before he had tweeted the address of the show to his 5.9 million followers. It worked. A couple thousand teenagers rammed the street outside, screaming. To get in, editors had to run the gamut, perplexed.
When inside, many Googled him to try and fathom who the hell Cameron Dallas was, or what he had done to deserve such adulation. “The pimple in the middle of my eyebrows hurts so bad,” he’d tweeted four hours before, along with the crying/laughing emoji. It had already been retweeted 3,240 times.
Eventually, Dallas was brought to his seat, three along from me. “Cameron,” he said to the critic who was seated next to him. They shook hands. “Cameron,” he said to the next critic along. They shook hands. It’s not an opportunity you turn down. I stretched out my hand. He shook it.
Photographers swarmed in front of him, their camera lights bright enough for a football stadium. They illuminated his face. That pimple between his eyebrows was still there, right in the middle. It didn’t look angry, but maybe he’d used some concealer. When seen from the side, it was raised.
Oh yeah, the show. Creative director Italo Zucchelli went for that sharp wardrobe of neat suit jackets and car coats in black or camel worn with white crewneck T-shirts. The styling was ramped up with layers of gold or silver metallics like tinfoil. Let’s cut to the chase: it looked like Helmut Lang. Specifically, Helmut Lang spring/summer 2004. Actually, this wasn’t a problem. Menswear needs some snap like that which Lang used to bring. And here, the metallic layers were mainly used to emphasise the sharp lines of whatever was worn on top.
It’s been a great day for a modern city-smart look. The black single-breasted suits looked great from the front. From behind, a couple could have done with a touch more fit and finesse. Zucchelli’s MA1 flying jacket was one of the best seen at these shows, riding nice and high to create a full volume silhouette. A chunky black sweater sounds simple, but it takes confidence in its desirability to send it out on the catwalk on its own.
Show over, the kids were still outside, iPhones up, screaming. They pressed hard against the fencing. One asked me something. I didn’t understand her. “I shook his hand,” I said to her and her friends. “I touched him.” They didn’t understand. A scream went up. Their attention was diverted. Ah well. Onto the next.
For more reports from the shows, go to our fashion weeks page on FT.com