The menswear shows are here again! This is what’s going down in Milan right now
When Benjamin Franklin claimed there were only two certainties in life way back when, he was lying. There’s three: death, taxes, and the fact fashion week will roll around quicker than you can utter the words “What do you mean, I’m not on the list?” In case you missed it – and you probably did, since COVID has thrown a comedy-sized spanner in the works for yet another season – menswear kicked off in Milan this week. And while the schedule’s been dialled down, and many brands continue to put their shows on ice until June, there’s still a shitload of fashions to see. From London-based label JordanLuca making its Italian debut, Alyx staging its Milanese return after a bunch of Paris shows, and Prada, Fendi, and Dsquared2 all putting in an appearance, we’ve rounded up everything you need to see. As the Italians put it: “Prego!”
Dsquared2’s AW22 show was the first time fashion’s fave twins Dean and Dan Caten had shown menswear IRL since before the pandemic began, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, they were feeling pretty emotional about it. As guests settled down for the ride on knackered, old-school suitcases, the Catens stepped out onto the runway to welcome them, telling guests “how happy” they were to see so many familiar faces. From the moment the first model stomped down the stripped-back, elevated catwalk, the inspiration became clear: Dsquared AW22 was as camp as a row of tents – quite literally. Enormous puffer jackets emblazoned with logos were layered over bold Fair Isle knits, utilitarian cargo pants, and heavy duty boots, with looks finished with climbing harnesses, carabiners, and giant, almost homespun-feeling woolly hats. It was big, bolshy, and, after the shitshow that was the last couple of years, a breath of fresh air. Which is exactly what the label wants you to be taking a gulp of when you head out into the wilderness in their kit come autumn 2022.
1017 ALYX 9SM
After previously making a break for Paris and bedding down there for the last few years, Matthew Williams made his big Italian return for AW22. The designer and Givenchy main main took over the impressively-named, beautifully-painted, but seen-better-days Saint Victor and the Forty Martyrs church to stage his latest show, juxtaposing the space’s former grandeur with a sleek, contemporary collection packed full of Alyx signatures. Models wearing slick quilted vinyl trousers and boxy coats trimmed with ostrich feathers, pumped-up puffers, and chunky knits stomped down the runway in ergonomic rubber boots that looked like they could have been ripped from an early episode of Star Trek. It wasn’t just the guys that got a look in, though. As ever, Williams also sent out womenswear in the form of swooping, backless capes, slinky all-in-ones, and crystal-embellished slips, in deep red, dusty lilac, and mauve hues.
Landing in Milan for the first time after previously showing at LFW, Jordan Bowen and Luca Marchetto really stepped their pussies up this season. Tapping into the tenderness and brutality of romance and sexuality, the duo behind JordanLuca dropped a particularly strong collection that balanced softness and brutality. This manifested in slick tailored suit jackets with wide, boxy shoulders, hulking faux fur coats, and subversive kilting, offset by tactile knits bearing big bunches of red roses, and peekaboo trousers with cut-outs to the knees (a lesser-known erogenous zone, FYI). Final flourishes came by way of skinny scarves strung intermittently with fabric roses and severe-looking silver spikes, as well as brilliantly weird Salad Fingers-esque gloves. A real highlight of MFW so far.
If Fendi were to be summed up in a single sentence, “Opulence: you own everything!” would be it. Going super luxe for the upcoming season, Silvia Venturini sent a collection of clean cut car coats, slick, slim suiting, and chic knitwear in 50 shades of beige nude down the runway, punctuating the collection with expensive-looking leather luggage and blingy takes on the now-iconic Baguette throughout. At the more experimental end of the scale, the legendary designer spliced louche trousers with languid skirts to create a unique, off-kilter hybrid for AW22, while a couple of models made their way through the space in heavy knitted tunic dresses matched with FF-emblazoned semi-sheer pop socks. Never mind the guys: get me a pair of those, stat.
DOLCE & GABBANA
Not one to do things by halves, the Italian label enlisted Mr. Weed himself, Machine Gun Kelly, to open its AW22 show. Dripping in sequins, the rapper first hunched over a keyboard a la Ross from Friends to create the loop that soundtracked the show, before taking a turn on the runway in a glittering Swarovski-crystallised suit, the jacket of which he whipped off and handed to Megan Fox, who sat in the front row supporting her man. The collection was typical D&G: bold, loud, and logo-emblazoned, with a mish-mash of pumped up puffers, contemporary tailoring, a collab with Rocco Pezzella, and futuristic accessories including masks and goggles – designed with the metaverse in mind – all key. It was all about interpreting what a new gen wants to wear in 2022, according to the designers.
Jonathan Anderson’s always had a knack for the uncanny, and this season further proved that even more than most. After teasing a kitschy-cute, actually quite jolly little pigeon clutch on IG last week, the Northern Irish designer’s AW22 collection offered more of the absurd. Watching endless documentaries and diving into YouTube rabbit holes throughout lockdown, Anderson cited a doc on Cristiano Ronaldo as the inspo behind his glitzy sequined football kit, while its motif – a glam girl in a bonnet, taken from a vintage beauty ad – was the result of watching a bunch of make-up tutorials. More key moments came by way of big knits with bouncy chain-links, and a cute cropped-top festooned with neon rubber bands (cut to your friends thinking it’s a lol to keep twanging you in the club). Following reports that the Indie Sleaze fashion of the late 00s is making a comeback (head here for more on that), Anderson also sent a slew of uber-shiny disco pants down the runway for the new season. Overall, the collection was wackily brilliant, and a whole lot of fun from start to finish. Catch me in the pub circa the start of the 2022 World Cup in one of those fab glittering jerseys pretending I know what’s going on.
Etro chose looks and books this season, sending out second hand paperbacks by way of invitation and staging its AW22 show in the bowels of Milan’s Bocconi University. It was a theme that also filtered into the collection itself, with every model clutching a book either in hand or tucking one neatly under their arm. But what of the clothes? Designer Kean Etro was doing it for the kids this season, by dialling up the colour palette and proportions of all that’s come before. This meant chunky jumpers and XXL coats in kaleidoscopic Paisley prints, super slouchy suiting, chunky cords, and a succession of heavy gauge sweaters that elevated those trashy wolf print tees from the 80s that used to weigh down the rails of vintage stores the world over. The outerwear this season was particularly strong, with slippery, shiny puffers and oversized, slopey-shouldered car coats making up the best of the rest.
Switching London for the Milan schedule for yet another season, for AW22, designer Samuel Ross explained he was moving back towards “a feeling, an emotion” as opposed to anything that could be described using words, before reiterating his aversion to creating anything that could fit into a specific trend. But then, his disregard for following what everyone else is doing at any given moment is precisely why he’s one of the most exciting designers working today. After focusing on slightly more commercial A-COLD-WALL* offshoot ACW throughout the pandemic, Ross told us it was liberating to be thinking a bit more conceptually again this season: “That’s how the brand began in 2015,” he added. With this season’s show taking the form of an atmospheric film shot in the grand halls of the Tate Modern, Ross pulled a succession of key looks from a rail behind him during a preview Zoom of the offering to give us a closer look, before understandably “nerding out” over the details: the hand-painted etchings and overlaid screen printing on an oversized, utilitarian coat, the stitching on a new iteration of his house’s signature vest, the patina and finishings of functional tailoring, and the distinctive, bow-legged shape of this season’s multi-pocketed cargo pants. But while his concepts may strike some as esoteric, that’s the opposite of how Ross wants to operate. “I love seeing my designs out in the wild or on social media,” he explains. “I always end up messaging the people who tag me and having these long conversations about what they like, what they don’t like, what they want to see more of. It’s never just been about me and my team – it’s a conversation with the whole community.” In other words, a whole bunch of A-COLD-WALL* fans nerding out with each other.
Rising designer Luchino Magliano’s AW22 show was the dawn show on the Sunday of Milan Fashion Week, so it made sense that the presentation’s central focus was a dishevelled but inviting brass bed. With Magliano describing himself as a bit of a nocturnal creature, and with his routine further skewed by two years of severe lockdowns, this season, he looked to subversive Italian performance artist Luigi Ontàni for inspiration, who seemingly spent much of the 1980s wafting around his unassuming hometown of Bologna in eccentric, head-turning ensembles – think brocade pyjamas, and bold suiting in jewel brights, plus a smattering of wildly flamboyant costume jewellery. This translated to a similar offering of easy, louche pieces that gave a whiff of faded grandeur: a silky, powder pink lounge suit here, an oversized, drop-shouldered blazer there, as well as chic but silly skinny satin scarves. Though decidedly dialled down in comparison to past collections, the seductiveness that underpins his work still radiated – only this time, softer, and more undone.
44 LABEL GROUP
Milan probably isn’t the first place to come to mind when you think of dark, dingy, underground clubs and pounding techno music, but this season, 44 LABEL GROUP changed all that. The Berlin-based label, founded in 2021 by former Berghain resident DJ Max Kobosil, was intent on bringing a slice of the gritty German city’s spirit to fashion week, turning an old, industrial shell of a building close to the Navigli canal into just that, blasting industrial music through the space to create its AW22 catwalk presentation (a short film this season, given the swiftly changing restrictions). Models stomped down the runway as the centre of the production in what was essentially a brilliant, just-moved-to-Berlin starter kit, with pumped up bombers layered over XXL hoodies, camo pants offset by cropped tank tops, wide-legged, 90s-style denim, and chunky, don’t-mess-with-me boots. Pieces were finished with utilitarian details in the form of hefty pockets and hardcore hardware, plus a healthy smattering of slogans and bold ‘44’ logos – which, in case you’re not aware, is the zip code of edgy Berlin area Neukölln. Pretty banging, all in all.