Io Sono L’Amore. Zanini AW20

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Marco Zanini‘s small, name-sake label launched a year ago, and though the challenges are constant, he now finds himself with a roster of top boutiques around the world and the kind of personal satisfaction that comes from doing precisely what he wants after many years of working for other companies. This also is reflected in the garments: there’s no compromising at Zanini. Not on materials, not on the finishings on the inside of the garments, and definitely not on his silhouettes. For autumn-winter 2020, Zanini’s interest turned to traditional English wool flannels, which he cut into mannish two- and three-piece suits that he lined in white linen. Another wool jacket and matching full skirt were lightly hand-quilted. The thick cashmere knit worn with another big skirt looked just perfect, worn with a cameo necklace and a cotton poplin shirt underneath. Very, very Milanesa. This collection made me think of Luca Guadagnino’s masterpiece “I Am Love”,  starring Tilda Swinton as Emma. I can see Zanini’s delightful silk eveningwear worn around the wonderful Villa Necchi Campiglio and his daywear being Emma’s day-to-day basics. And in our reality, Marco’s brand is gradually stealing hearts of clients who don’t need logos and one-season statements, but want a garment that will forever feel luxurious and beautiful.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Soft Minimalist Femininity. Jil Sander AW20

Lucie and Luke Meier‘s Jil Sander for autumn-winter 2020 is, simply speaking, beautiful. It’s the peak condensation of the aesthetic they’ve created at the label: soft, minimalist femininity. The knitted dress hug the body, the over-sized tailoring guards the wearer, the blanket-like, fleecy throws bring comfort and warmth… everything’s a delight. The show was staged with wooden chairs arranged in a round-edge rectangle in the center of the runway: the models walked the perimeter and took their seats. Backstage, Lucie and Luke talked about capturing movement and emotion, and the sense of stillness the models inhabited set off both. The Meiers practice a more considered, tranquile sort of fashion, one that puts primacy over noisy Insta-moments. What’s not to love about it?

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Ritual. Gucci AW20

For a good start of Milan fashion week, at the very beginning of the Gucci show, the curtain was pulled back on the frenzied sort of preparations that typically happen backstage of any runway presentation. On a rotating carousel, bathrobe-clad models were quickly trussed and styled by fleets of dressers in gray Gucci smocks before taking their place along the stage’s edge. The vintage-feeling clothes, which included big hats and opera gloves, were no less theatrical – there were frilly baby-doll dresses, bell-bottom suits in pastels and baroquely ruffled ball gowns, inspired, said Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, by the idea of a mother dressing her child for a special occasion. What truly appealed to me in this show is Michele’s embrace of the dress-up ritual. It can be spontaneous, planned, conscious or unconscious, one day you can look like Janis Joplin, another be a goth lolita, and then on Friday be the S&M-version of Marie Antoinette. The opening look perfecly showed the theme of the collection: a confused-looking model in one of those gowns, with a chunky knitted sweater over her head.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Rave Like You Are Five. Gucci AW20

A huge pendulum ticktocked back and forth, drawing a line in the sand beneath it. The mood felt far more sober that usual. Time for reflection? “Fashion is a sort of clock,” Alessando Michele rightly observed after his  Gucci autumn-winter 2020 collection for men. Michele’s very first show – of a collection assembled in only five days after Frida Gianini’s abrupt departure – was held at the Milan menswear week in January 2015. And who would have thought it’s impact will be this big – not only for Gucci, but fashion in general? Michele referred back to that first collection – the open-back kangaroo-lined loafers that were his first big accessories hit were among the footwear in the new collection. But this was not self-reference for the sake of it. “I haven’t got any nostalgia,” he said. “I don’t cling to the past…. I use the past because the past is a very interesting space.” Grannyish knits and David Bowie-ish metallic flares, Kurt Cobain-ish grungy ’90s denim and a Courtney Love-ish leopard-print coat. Those were the first references that came to mind. And the tongue-in-cheek title of the show – ‘Rave Like You Are Five’? Most of the clothes were styled the way children wear their clothes when parents aren’t around: the way they like, not the way they areobliged to. Michele was also exploring the big idea of the season: an emphasis on the potential boundarylessness of masculinity rather than its long-constructed boundaries. “This is not a narrative that excludes or rules out mainstream masculinity; on the contrary, I want to talk about how complex it is to be a man. And this means growing up maybe in a different way because the world of men is very diverse and full of different elements like the feminine world.” But what I enjoyed the most in this collection was the lack of the Gucci-fied over-the-topness (which the designer signalised for the first time in his spring-summer 2020 line-up). Without all the drowning opulence that Michele made us used to in the last couple of years, you really feel and see his pure aesthetic.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Satin 90s. Tom Ford AW20

As told by Tom Ford’s team at his Milan showroom, when the designer was making his name at Gucci in the latter-half of the 1990s, he had a routine when it came to pants. Apparently Ford would loop a strip of leather through the two front belt-loops either side of his fly and knot them to ensure a just-so fit. For autumn-winter 2020, Ford offers his pant-tie – now called an Obi – that was incorporated into the kicky iron-creased pants that accompanied his attractive jackets. The looks is non-chalant, yet at ease. These suits came in a multitude of hues and fabrications – like gently washed denim or the incredible lilac satin(or the Madonna-Gucci-shirt-blue!). When shorn of a matching jacket the pant shape in denim looked as if taken straight from the 90s. Summing up, Ford’s wardrobe is super hot this season.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Anti-Heroic Masculinity. Prada AW20

Let me say what’s the point of this show,Miuccia Prada started backstage of her Prada autumn-winter 2020 men’s show: “That in the big – not ‘confusion’- but the complication of the current time between the world going wrong or going better, the discussion on sexes, on surviving or not… I thought to give an indication that the only thing that makes me calm and optimistic is to give value to work… to give value to things that matter in your life and your work. And so the creativity is mixed with technicalities, which is a little bit similar to the Secessionist period (boldly colored graphics shared  with the fabric patterns associated with Koloman Moser and other artists of the Vienna Secession) when ideas, creativity, and actual work had to be all together.” And what about the rather anti-heroic, equestrian statue, was this also about the contemporary heroism? “Not heroic, but heroes… I want to give a hope that in this casino (‘chaotic world’) if you do well your job, paired with intelligence, and with culture, then this already is something… It’s to give respect to work, to effort, to fatigue, and to what is difficult.” So here’s some forever-intelligent Prada-ism to delight in. On the set that closely resembled one of Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical paintings, Miuccia presented earnest, simple, smart and easy-in-approach clothes that are both classic and modern. Three-piece suits or mismatched tailored separates, portfolios thrust between arm and hip. Rural worker in mid-calf boots and oversized corduroy jacket. Then a more urban kind of Prada man whose clothes have technical touches and piped sport raised graphics on pocket flaps. Scientist-like rubberized coats matched with baggy pants tucked into beaten leather galvanized sole boots (plus rectangular lensed shades). Different characters, different personalities. Yet not so dramatically different clothes.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Neo Archetypes. Salvatore Ferragamo AW20

The only thing I disliked about Salvatore Ferragamo’s autumn-winter 2020 for men was the ‘millenials’ talk – isn’t using this marketing term slightly outdated? Still, Paul Andrew’s collection was really good. The peculiar way young guys address masculine archetypes was apparently revealing for him. “Millennials break down archetypal references, mixing them into new categories that defy categorization,” Andrew said. He identified six different alpha-male paradigms of masculinity: the businessman, sailor, surfer, race car driver, soldier and biker. These served as canvas to create new masculine style species, mixed together into a freeform hybrid. “Once upon a time, men identified more clearly with these categories,” said Andrew. “If a surfer wanted to go to Wall Street, he surely didn’t know what to wear. Today you might be easily wearing surfer-style pants with a tailored jacket.” Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Still, he has a point. If you sum up a sailor & businessman archetype, what do you get? Answer: A perfectly tailored peacoat in the finest herringbone Scottish tweed. If you’d like to add a bit of your inner 1980s California surfer to the mix, you’ll wear a matching pair of oversized shorts over the trousers of an impeccably tailored pinstriped suit, a three-piece extravaganza fit for a new breed of businessman & ocean man. Or else, the soldier & surfer combo could result in a daring twist on the camouflage pattern, inspired by a Hawaiian shirt and reworked in military colors. Probably, less words would work even better for this inventive line-up.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Apocalyptic Party. Marni AW20

The audience was directed to a cavernous dark space, trespassing similarly dark tunnels outlined with thin, colored neon lights. The tunnel opened onto a pitch-black space with a labyrinthine neon-lit floor layout, with barely perceptible human silhouettes scattered around. The audience was kept standing. The Marni troupe (which was actually a dance collective, directed by Italian choreographer Michele Rizzo) emerged in slow-motion from obscurity as if in hypnotic trance. Awakening from their sleepy state, the dancers started moving and swaying to trance music, holding onto their spots as if glued to them. Then they started moving about at a snail’s pace. Then the beat and the energy changed abruptly and the Marni-clad collective started marching about as if propelled by a sudden urge, circling around in manic mode, until the pace wound way down again. This was no longer a fashion show, but an art performance. No wonder why focusing on the clothes was challenging. But still, the show wasn’t here to conceal the clothes. The fashion repertoire was highly eclectic, as usual from Franceso Risso. Tailoring mixed with big, slouchy shapes. Coats were bisected, jackets were dilated, sweaters fragmented and juxtaposed. Scraps of fabric were pieced together in patchworks. Nothing seemed to make sense – yet all coalesced beautifully into Marni’s stylish madness. But there’s no Marni show without a piece of Risso narrative. “It’s a dance which takes us to the end of love. The end and the beginning of love. I was thinking about Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Masque of The Read Death’ and about Prince Prospero,” said the designer. The story goes that Prince Prospero locks himself in an abbey with a crowd of friends for a masquerade ball, attempting to escape the plague. The Red Death infiltrates the abbey with exterminating results. “Today it was our court of Prince Prospero’s noble friends dancing to the end of love and locked in our castle,” continued Risso. “They are a collective in a never ending party, wearing multiform uniforms… objects with a life of their own, heirlooms, something we have to protect.” It’s not the first time when the designer goes apocalyptic. Theory aside, back to the clothes: they were made from assemblages of old scraps of fabrics and leftovers of 1950s deadstock. Risso’s poetic way of addressing new methods of creating and producing clothes (recycling, upcycling, assembling, reusing!) is a consistent approach, which still seems to be missing at other luxury brands. A big yes to this collection.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – 25 Years. Dsquared2 AW20

While I can’t recall Dsquared2 catching my attention in the last few years, Dean and Dan Caten‘s men’s autumn-winter 2020 show – simultaneously being their 25th anniversary show – was something the label needed: sharp, naughty and distinctly Dsquared2. The collection paid homage to the label’s past – think whild, shouty, at times crappy 2000s fashion. Probably the oversize knit blanket coat was a nod to Naomi Campbell’s first look at their notoriously great autumn-winter 2003 airplane show. There was Western-inspired style they conceived for Madonna’s “Don’t Tell Me” video. The collection was also all about sultry pioneer vintage. The silhouette was narrow at the bottom (tight kicked pants and jeans for boys, bare legs for girls topped by under-butt skirts) and volumized above (big shearling jackets, fake-fur fringed herringbone overcoats, a great waxed horseman’s long coat). Also, when was the last time ripped denim and plaid shirts looked so hot? One might wonder if the beginnings of 2020s should look back at 2000s fashion in such a literal way. But it’s Dsquared2, it’s a glossy, loud, non-stop after-party.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.