MILAN (AP) — Designers are resizing Milan Fashion Week for menswear, condensing previews for next spring and summer into just over three days.
While New York and London's commitment to menswear has waned, Milan remains true to the segment that fuels Italian exports. Of the 9 billion euros ($10 billion) in menswear revenues last year, 64 percent were cashed in abroad — a higher percentage than womenswear at 61 percent of 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion).
Just the format is changing. More designers are showing menswear alongside womenswear, with many like Gucci and Bottega Veneta waiting for the September round. And a number of fashion houses, including Missoni and Etro, have opted for presentations, while yet others are in a creative transition.
Highlights from the first day of menswear previews in Milan for next spring and summer on Saturday:
MILLENIALS RULE ON THE RUNWAY
Singer Shawn Mendes took a turn on the Emporio Armani runway, showing off the brand's new smart watch line dubbed "Connected."
Designers see their future in Millennials, a generation that has unprecedented power to influence and be influenced, thanks to ubiquitous social media. They migrate seamlessly from platform to platform, even from brand to brand.
Mendes appeared in a video promoting the watch at the end of the show, and then appeared in life to show it off and take in the fashion crowd as much as it did him. The touchscreen watch is both Android and Apple compatible.
Armani described Mendes as "a singer of true talent who touches the hearts of his fans."
"Shawn embodies and conveys the values in which I believe: Professionalism, commitment and innovation," the designer said in a note.
MARTIAL ARTS AT EMPORIO ARMANI Giorgio Armani's latest collection for his Emporio Armani line proposes a dialogue with Japan, no simple cultural appropriation, mixing trademark tailoring with a flourish of martial arts.
Dark blue urban suits had a long billowing under jacket, the first hint of the exotic and a clear statement that this not your salary man's workaday wardrobe. Suits were worn with either button-down striped shirts or asymmetrical collarless shirts, both paired with leather cords instead of ties. Notched lapel jackets were belted, or not.
A clutch of silken printed jackets, including one with a flock of silvery birds, won a round of appreciative applause.
Armani has long played with volumes. For this collection he incorporated martial arts-style Hakama trousers, pleated split pants that have a skirt-like appearance. To demonstrate its versatility, a model performed a series of karate-style kicks.
The Hakama-style trousers, sometimes silken, sometimes plaid, were worn with baseball jackets or short-sleeved sweaters with Koi detailing.
Hair was pushed from the face with crisscrossing headbands, creating a cartoon Magna-style look of spiking locks.
FASHION DISSONANCE AT MARNI
Marni's new designer, Francesco Risso, in his second season, has tapped the brand's playful spirit. The collection is imbued with a boyish charm of purposely ill-fitting, mostly over-sized, and mismatched outfits.
"In a way, it is playful and a way to piece and put together in a very libertine way. Spiritual, too," Risso said backstage. "The nobility of coincidence. That is what I really love."
The man-boy of Risso's imagining has pieced together a wardrobe seemingly of found objects. Shirts are patch-worked together and worn in skewed layers, short over long. Everything seems to have been somehow repurposed, from an athletic cap to old racing bibs with purposely naive drawings by Los Angeles artist Magdalena Suarez.
There is an undercurrent of femininity that can be seen as part of the movement toward genderless dressing: A long tunic seems almost a mini dress, until you see the Bermuda shorts peeking out.
ORANGE DESERT AT ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA
Designer Alessandro Sartori's debut collection for Ermenegildo Zegna Couture was presented on the eve of Milan Fashion Week against the orange of the Tangier desert he created inside Milan's State University.
Sartori showed off his looks in the university's arcaded courtyards, where he said he used to come to read and contemplate while a student at the Marangoni Institute of fashion and design.
The collection mixed both romanticism and pragmatism. Safari jackets and anoraks had big utilitarian pockets, while retaining the brand's careful lines, while oversized sweaters had a more relaxed feel.
Pinks, pastels and worn denim gave a nostalgic touch, along with boyish stripes. But there was also a tailored salmon colored suit worn with layers of V-neck sheers.