Menswear in a fashion flux on the runways of Europe

2010-06-25 14:12

Within 48 hours, the

weather in Milan has turned from a heavy shower to a heatwave. At the menswear

shows in Milan, rapidly ­shifting temperatures could also describe the

collections on the catwalks.

From casual corporate to rock ’n roll, ­menswear

seems to be in a state of fashion flux as each designer makes his own pitch for

the future.

One thing we can be sure of is that the ­psychedelic cacophony of

last season’s bright colours is something of the past.

A new palette of neutral

tonalities offers a calming respite.

At Burberry Prorsum,

British ­designer Christopher Bailey is an ­expert at reinventing the archives.

It’s no wonder he’s winning fashion awards and the hearts of a new generation of

fashion-conscious men all over the world.

This ­season, he found inspiration

from the biker look.

The collection was breathtaking and had me sitting on the

edge of my seat hoping for more.

If there is one item every

guy should be adding to his wardrobe, it’s a leather biker jacket.

This may not

sound like a summer item, but you’ll definitely be wearing it into next winter.

Get one now.

Alternatively, the classic

trench coat – which no one does better than Burberry – is an item that every man

should, at some stage of his life, invest in.

It’s a never-fail classic, and

this ­season it is trimmed and ­finished with leather.

Dolce & Gabbana

­celebrated 20 years in ­menswear.

Annie Lennox was a vibrant, emotional

­accompaniment, and the front row of celebrities included Morgan Freeman and

Peaches Geldof.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano

Gabbana did themselves proud and launched an exhibition in the Milan mayoral


A superbly stylish event, the exhibition covered the best of their works

and included a touching scene of a lone tailor, placed beside the mirror that

came from the workshop of Dolce’s father, taking needle and thread to create a


The calm and unforced

collection on the runway had the ease that comes with no longer wanting to push

boundaries or trying to create sensation.

Strict tailoring made way for roomier

fits in light and airy fabrics that continue to capture the sensual southern

­Italian vibe and sexy identity of Dolce & Gabbana.

Giorgio Armani seems to

have had a youthful rebirth since his collaboration with Lady Gaga on the

sex-and-storm troopers ­video shot by Steven Klein.

For the Emporio Armani show,

the “hard man” inspiration was evident in heavy metal, chains and an all-black

leather finale.

This collection, which is not the classic and traditional

Armani, clearly indicates a new energy, if not a slightly humorous side to the

king of ­sophisticated elegance and sensible style.

However, the finale in black

leather military uniforms did instigate some controversy.

The Dirk Bikkembergs Sport

Couture collection was a moving tribute to Cape Town.

Bikkembergs, famous for

his sports wear, showed a soccer World Cup-inspired collection filmed on Signal

Hill, with Table Mountain creating an awesome backdrop.

The collection was shown

on a massive plasma screen on the Piazza del Duomo.

Even more moving than the

collection was seeing our local models holding their own in a show that left me

feeling proudly South African.

But where does this leave

us? It’s not, by any means, a matter of a lack of style; we simply don’t have

the variety and choice.

­Imported brands are expensive, local ­designers are

thwarted by a cash-strapped economy and mainstream retailers, understandably,

cater mostly for the mass market, leaving very few options for the discerning

and fashion-conscious South African guy.

Italy is a smorgasbord of

fashion – to the point that it’s almost overwhelming.

I have managed to work

myself into a fashion ­frenzy trying to upgrade my wardrobe for the shows.

It’s no wonder with all

this choice that at every turn one sees an enviably dressed guy, whether it’s a

casual ensemble of jeans, T-shirt and sandals, or a slick well-cut suit.

Nonetheless, I remain optimistic that our local industry will continue


My highlight – and

hopefully not sounding too horribly pretentious – would have to be the moment

when I got to shake hands with Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. Never in my

wildest dreams ...

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