Milan was a Manstravaganza at last weekend’s SS13 presentations, with some of the key shows reflecting the varied dimensions of What It Means To Be A Bloke. Without intellectualising trousers and jackets any further, here’s the deal:
On Saturday, the hot ticket was Jil Sander’s new collection by the actual Jil Sander herself (after Raf Simons’ departure) for the label she birthed back in 1968: it was a neat, hiked-up and hemmed-up collection with a deep sense of the modern, accenting on graphic T-shirts, defiant shorts and extended jackets. When the iconic designer appeared from stage right at the end of the show, there was a tremendous and heartful applause: “welcome back,” it signalled.
At Burberry Prorsum at Corso Venezia 16 later that afternoon, the mood was much less restrained: the fashion pack gasped as the blinds were pulled back from the high glass ceilings before Christopher Bailey despatched his troops in a dazzling collection whose signatures where bomber jackets (worn over suits), the classic trench and trousers in beautifully retina-burning, anodised-aluminium neon metallics. “Business Flâneur on the set of Tron” may not have been Mr Bailey’s vision, but it certainly seemed that way in this striking collection.
Can you imagine a phallanx of athletic Estrucan superbeings art-directed by Jeff Koons wearing bathrobes, underpants, gold trophy belts and not much else marching past you to the sound of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”? You surely can, but if you can’t, that was the prevailing mood at Versace later that evening; it was an extraordinary thing. Power and strength, pecs and quiffs, pants and glamour: this was Versace doing only what Versace can, masculinity optimised about as far as it can go.
The following morning Tomas Maier for Bottega Veneta presented a far softer and more occluded collection, in the house’s signature muted, autumnal hues, of looks (including pullovers, kaftans-like tops and narrow cropped pants) that weren’t a million miles from Woodstock-era David Crosby, or John Voight in “Midnight Cowboy” (the music to the show was, naturally, “Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talking At Me” with a dubstep remix).
On Sunday evening, the event was Prada, the most controlled and graphic show of the past two days. Models walked a fascinatingly geometric figure-of-eight path, like bits in a machine, marked out by overhead gantry lighting in the jaw-dropping location, wearing elegant and occasionally sporty neo-modernist outfits (jackets, jerkins, straight trousers in subtle green, deep blue and claret, never less than fantastically elegant). In this menswear show, half of the models weren’t men, which suggest the man of the future may be someone we hardly recognise as a man any more. Milan SS13 proves that masculinity itself can be a complex thing.