Umit Benan, one of the best Milan-based menswear (and not only) designers, focuses on uncompromisingly manufactured and painstakingly designed ultra-luxe clothing. For the autumn-winter 2022 offering, modelled by the always-chic Vogue Hommes fashion editor, Giovanni Dario Laudicina, some of the finest pieces here included a workwear jacket in double cashmere (either in sunflower yellow or olive green) alongside same-fabric raglan overcoats; both were garments whose apparent simplicity, combined with the precious fabric, served to manifest rich sophistication. Stopping at a mustard/camel cashmere hoodie, Benan said: “at the end of day, I don’t want to mess too much with design. The emphasis is on great stuff, stuff that’s so great you want to come back and buy it again.” A loose-legged blue and white herringbone suit in silk/wool shown over another slouchy Bengal stripe underlayer was, in theory, a women’s look. It was also evidence of B+ Umit Benan’s ability to make clothes with a formal architecture appear almost slouchily deformalized. These are garments made for the niche of a niche in a niche – exclusive both in terms of price point and aesthetic. The ultimate investment pieces.
For autumn-winter 2022, Jonathan Anderson embraces all things “weird”, and seems to be aesthetically torn between the 1980s (sparkly party dresses) and now trending, early 2010s “indie sleaze” (metallic lycra jumpsuits). The JW Anderson collection was planned to be shown live in Milan with a late-night after-party. An IRL event would have enhanced and disrupted this season’s menswear week. As Anderson explained in a preview, however, the party element especially was nixed by Omicron restrictions and the live Milan debut has been pushed back until June. During that preview, Anderson used the word “weird” countless times: most often at a point at which he unlocked the thinking that had led to key elements in this collection. It was “weird” how a documentary on Cristiano Ronaldo inspired him to re-engage with “the limits of hyper-masculinity.” This lead to Anderson’s gleeful excavation of the polo shirt – “there is nothing more quintessential”—as a masculine cipher which he then disrupted by variously lengthening it into a hoop-hemmed dress, rendering it in micro-sequin with a vintage “Glamour Bonnet” hair net advert, or reconfiguring it as a high-shorted playsuit. This last look brought back fond back-in-the-day memories. When not watching documentaries “on everything and anything” Anderson spent much of his time weird-scrolling, and the results inflected this collection. The gorgeous eye-graphic dresses had a chin-strokily John Berger inference yet were sparked by a bout of engaging with the world of YouTube make-up tutorials. The menswear tunics peppered with rubber bands and sweaters featuring tubular protrusions that ran from one side of the hem, between the wearer’s legs, and up to the other hem with both pieces designed to generate sound through contact. “A lot of the materials have these odd sounds qualities that are kind of almost sexual… there’s a kind of tension,” he said. These were the by-product of spiraling into ASMR content on TikTok, another “weird” lockdown stop-off. When Anderson detects weirdness, he is not repelled but stimulated: for him “odd” and “bad taste” hold creative opportunity. Allied with his highly refined sense of beauty, the results are unorthodoxly compelling.