The recently concluded Milan Fashion Week and Pitti Uomo menswear show in Florence, Italy, made one thing clear: designers are recontextualising classic codes of menswear by adding playful and whimsical touches.
Whether it was the Prada show, where Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons gave a colourful spin to officewear, or Dhruv Kapoor’s attempt to blend sportswear with formal clothing, the fall-winter presentations at the five-day Milan Fashion Week, which concluded on 16 January, veered towards relaxed, fluid and, most importantly, sexy clothing.
Indian designer brand Shantnu & Nikhil’s co-founder Nikhil Mehra, who attended the Pitti Uomo from 9-12 January, says there is an inclination towards including more layering in menswear. Winter layering was already popular, but now summer layering is also becoming big in men’s fashion, Mehra says. “Double-breasted tailoring is also big. At home, we have embraced the classic bandhgala wholeheartedly. This season, if feels like we are rediscovering our dad’s old closet and restyling pieces. I see jazz hats, tweeds, houndstooth and strong leopard prints gaining prominence and they are worn with thick-heeled shoes and statement bags.”
Here are some of trends that emerged at the two menswear fashion events and the ways in which you can incorporate them in your wardrobe.
Gucci’s creative director Sabato De Sarno made his menswear debut with a show with fitted double-breasted suits, styled with leather gloves and matching shoulder bags, a hat tip to the brand’s 1990s’ archives. Paired with low-plunging tanks and scarf ties, there was an element of sexiness in the clothes. Brunello Cucinelli, Zegna, Giorgio Armani, Canali, Fendi and Dolce & Gabbana offered versions of the double-breasted suit, from being XXL to ending just above the waist.
Stylist Akshay Tyagi says some people tend to avoid the double-breasted look because of the excess fabric that may result in a bulky appearance. “But I think that’s a styling problem,” he says. “The double-breasted look is a great way to integrate a bandhgala and a dhoti or salwar combo. Even a lungi would look great with it,” he says. Mehra offers another styling suggestion: “Try a printed shawl with a triple-layered suit or a even a long furry jacket from the women’s wardrobe.”
At Prada, where models walked on a glass runway that had a lush garden beneath, the tailored coats, ties and jackets seemed well suited for the office. They came with a twist, though: vibrant swimming caps. While Tyagi doesn’t see people relying on caps to add colour to their 9-to-5 clothes, he offers a way to make formal clothes more joyful. “Try colour pops in shirts or T-shirts, or in accessories like a pair of shoes and socks, a pocket square,” he says. “A colourful watch dial can also be fun and just enough to add that extra-ness to your outfit.”
The events had a fair share of furry statement long coats with tactile textures. Gucci’s opening look for the Milan show on 12 January was a long-line waistcoat styled with a metallic necklace, part sartorial and part punk. At the Armani fall-winter show on 15 January, models, too, presented long and sharp dusters embellished with shimmery crystals—all focusing on fluid cuts and fine tailoring.
Styling these pieces with traditional clothes is simple. “Wear it with a kurta and ditch the sherwani,” suggests stylist Isha Bhansali. “An embellished coat works best for outdoor weddings. You can complete the look with churidars or slim pants and brogues.”
JW Anderson’s Milan show, inspired by Christine Kubrick’s paintings in the film Eyes Wide Shut (directed by her late husband Stanley Kubrick), took gender-fluid clothing to another level, with a showcase that included models wearing sheer stockings and underwear with jumpers and tuxedo shirt dresses.
At Pitti Uomo, guest designer S.S. Daley’s collection had influences from The Last Panic, a short story by E.M. Forster about a young English boy’s sexual awakening. The ensembles suggested just-got-out-of-bed dressing with a wink—duvet coats, knitted blanket ponchos, tail coats, shirts and no trousers. MSGM also featured granny cardigans styled with knickers.
Sexy is the new macho, says Bhansali. “If you want to pull off a statement gender-fluid piece, take something like a sheer polo and style it in a minimal way,” she says. “Ensure that one piece is the focal point. Too much styling with accessories can spoil the whole look, whether you are going for a casual or a formal look.”
Manish Mishra is a Delhi-based writer and content creator.