From Fendi to Giorgio Armani, Milan Fashion Week is consistently headlined with glitz, glamour and distinguished high-end luxury. It might now only be a three day affair as more designers combine their men and women’s shows, but in the lead up, Florence’s flamboyant Pitti Uomo set the scene. If youthful experimentation represents London, then lavish exhibitionism represents the Italian city: nothing was too much for Milan SS20.
To begin with, the more-elaborate-than-ever show spaces suggested that no expense was spared. Giorgio Armani undeniably won grandeur, presenting in a 17th century courtyard at his historic former headquarters in central Milan. On the other end of the spectrum, Versace created kitsch class yet again with a plush pink floral haven (an Instagram dream) complete with a race car - hinting at a bold, contemporary masculinity.
“It’s great that we’re entering a phase where both casual tailoring and maximal colour and pattern can co-exist.”
Donatella didn’t hold back with clashing colours, leather and tie-dye, all donned by an army of spiky, multicolored-hair models, which made quite the impression. Jack Cassidy, menswear buyer at Selfridges, shared his takes on the collection with ORDRE: “It was an impeccable showcase of what the brand is all about - bold colours, amazing graphics, all put together in the iconic Versace way. It was a lot of fun, a real highlight of all the Milan shows.”
Although labels like DSquared2, Dolce and Gabbana, MSGM and Philip Plein all pursued Milan’s trademark more-is-more ethos, from Hawaiian shirts to printed blazers and a lot of leather, other collections foreshadowed a toned-down season. Lee Goldup, menswear buyer at Browns, noted, “In parts, we saw a subdued colour palette with lots of pastel colours in a spectrum that included mint green, yellow and beige.”
In agreement, Moda Operandi fashion director Josh Peskowitz says: “There was an elegance to the colour palettes, organic patterns and painterly effects. I’m not saying that minimalism is dead, but even when colours are solid, we’re seeing a lot of texture.”
Fendi’s muted green palette adhered to this season’s recurring jungle theme, with a camouflage safari presented at a very leafy Villa Reale. The setting was sketched by Oscar winning film director Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name) so naturally the show became an Italian summer romance. With Fendi fronting the trend, Goldup identified “bucket hats” as prominently accessorising Milan, as well as “wide-legged cargo pants and leather parkers” - no doubt ready for a wet summer.
This season saw tailoring staples and pinstripes across the board at MSGM, Salvatore Ferragamo, Ermenegildo Zegna, Emporio Armani and Neil Barrett. Fitting the breezy summer mood, there was also a new, relaxed formality evidenced in unwrapped ties, unbuttoned shirts and loose-fitted chinos. Peskowitz emphasised this, adding, “It’s great that we’re entering a phase where both casual tailoring and maximal colour and pattern can co-exist.”
On this note of combining maximalism with formality, Selfridges’ Cassidy puts a lens on Neil Barret’s 20th anniversary show. According to the buyer, “He presented a medley of some very cool ideas. Hybrid asymmetric prints (soundtracked by great music). The accessories really stood out to me.” Although Barrett himself is fairly new to the fashion week, there appears to be a distinct lack of emerging talent at the Milan shows, especially in contrast to London and New York’s constant cycle of art school graduates.
Moda Operandi’s Peskowitz agrees that Milan needs an injection of fresh, exciting talent. “This should be an opportunity for more young and international talent to get some exposure,” he says, adding, “It’s starting to happen but much more could be done.” As per usual, it was household names fuelling all the excitement surrounding Milan; however, at least this means it’s bankable.