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Dazed Overdose Mon 22nd June: Robbie Spencer

Robbie Spencer witnesses the conflation of fashion and art at some of Milan Menswear Fashion Week's most acclaimed shows including Prada, Calvin Klein and Moncler's Gamme Bleu.

Monday began for me with the Roberto Cavalli show, which had a much darker mood compared to his usual style. The first boy came out with ink blue hair and there was an abundance of black embellished leather and light-weight vests, adding a grungy feel to his familiar lavish style. Then at Ferragamo the Dick Tracey style panama seemed to be the hat for S/S10. The next show was Etro, which took us to a tropical paradise of color and prints, a sparkling white sand catwalk and a giant kaleidoscopic sun rotating above us.

Later on in the day the next collection that really made me sit up and pay attention was Italo Zucchelli’s Calvin Klein. Zucchelli, the recently awarded CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year 2009, presented an ever evolving modern day continuation of Calvin Klein retaining the restrained and controlled identity the label is known for, while applying his geometric shapes and talent for using color. Show stoppers included vivid turquoise and fiery red suiting and sleeveless tops, bolts of black stretch two pieces shorts and t-shirt combos, worn on the boy of Milan, AJ, and other distinctly new era Calvin Klein boys.

Monday seemed to be the day for memorable shows next up (and perhaps always the most hotly anticipated part of Milan fashion week) was the Prada show. Never failing to come up with something that goes way beyond clothing, bold abstract ideas always seem to shape a Prada collection taking it way beyond things you wear, and making going to a Prada show a complete experience for all the senses. This time we were all seated on spongy grey cubes, in democratic lines giving everyone a front row seat while scripture on the walls from black and white movies confused everyone, and the sounds of a mobile phone too close to a computer was the signal that the show had began. One of the most immaculate castings of the week, including new face at Models1 Jacob Coupe, the boys raced down the runway in perforated black and grey knitwear. Every piece had a different kind of subtle print to it, which was achieved by having created the collection early on then photographing it in full, then recreating the collection using the black and white photos as a reference point to discover new patterns and varying tones of grey that occur in black and white photography.

From Prada, a quick stop off at the Byblos and the Pringle of Scotland presentation then on to final show of the evening at Moncler's Gamme Bleu by Thom Browne, the master of taking a show far beyond the realms of fashion. This show was set in a old swimming pool complex, and began with a routine of swimmers walking down from the changing rooms in white towel cloaks, all lined up like a military procedure and leaping in the pools to do laps. Then the actual show began and the rest of the boys dropped their cloaks to reveal the collection underneath and started walking the circuit of the pool side.

An exciting day, and some amazing examples of how fashion shows can be presented in so many other ways and still be effective in showcasing clothes, it is also an example of two different brands pushing the boundaries of fashion by bringing fashion and art closer and creating something that is more like theatrical performance art.