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Milan menswear seeks reassurance in nostalgia and artisanal craft, from Fendi to Dolce&Gabbana

MILAN (AP) — Amid ongoing wars, hardening political divides and accelerating climate change, Milan designers made a play for escapism on the second day Saturday of Milan Fashion Week, mostly menswear previews for Spring-Summer 2025.
Models wear a creation as part of the MSGM Men's Spring Summer 2025 collection, presented in Milan,Italy, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Nicola Marfisi).

MILAN (AP) — Amid ongoing wars, hardening political divides and accelerating climate change, Milan designers made a play for escapism on the second day Saturday of Milan Fashion Week, mostly menswear previews for Spring-Summer 2025.

Many took inspiration from decades that now seem more reassuring, when the future brimmed with possibility. That future is now, and reality has hit. The message of climate change has penetrated the style studios: Men are offered thigh-baring shorts, open-weave tops and shoes, and inventive construction that permits ventilation on demand. Despite the seriousness of it all, fashion houses seemed to be saying: “Have fun.” The missing ingredient: exuberance.

Dolce & Gabbana offer summer elegance

Dolce & Gabbana’s collection for next summer was as smooth as a saxophone solo on the runway soundtrack. Loose silhouettes and artisanal weaving spelled summer ease.

Designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana created looks for the toniest Italian seaside destinations, from the Amalfi Coast to the Venetian Lido and Liguria’s Portofino. The designers said in notes they took inspiration from “Italy’s golden period,” of the 1950s, epitomized by Marcello Mastroianni.

The runway star this season were the weaves: woven raffia jackets, shirts and tunics in summer shades of tan-and-black, echoed in the footwear and bags, that played well against pretty scalloped crocheted knitwear and leather weaves. The silhouette had a strong supporting role, harkening to a bygone era with ample pleated trousers rolled to a casual cuff. Boxy tops balanced with shorter shorts. Bold diagonal stripes hit a nostalgic chord.

Clean linens and suedes maintained the collection’s quiet tones, broken up by occasional bursts of coral beading and sequins. The nature-inspired color palette included soothing juxtapositions of eggplant and wine, forest green and olive.

Fendi waxes nostalgic

Models strolled through a path created by six spinning mirrored pillars offering a kaleidoscopic view of a Fendi’s menswear collection that waxed nostalgic with mixed plaids, stripes and geometric prints.

The menswear silhouette by artistic director Silvia Venturini Fendi spoke to a yesteryear when shirts-and-ties were de rigueur, but not only. The bygone staples were updated with oversized shirts sticking out beneath light-weight bombers, paired with straight trousers or Bermuda shorts. Garment architectures gave an inventive edge, in asymmetric knitwear that buttoned down the shoulder for a peek-a-boo effect, or sleeves that slashed open at the elbow to convert from long to short, warm to cool.

Broad diagonal stripes on plaid recalled the 1970s, while a new, invented Fendi crest repeated for a geometric print. The soothing color palette of khaki, lime and sand, with pops of peach, provided monochrome palate cleansers from the busy patterns. Leather slip-on footwear or paneled sneakers finished the looks, accessorized with soft shoppers or a tidy patchwork bag made from leather cutoffs from Fendi workshops.

The runway show this season moved from the brand’s intimate showroom to a new 7,000-square-meter (75,000-square-foot) space that show notes say has been recognized for its energy and environmental design. Despite the change in locale, hundreds of screaming, eager K-pop fans managed the trek to greet artists like Stray Kids’ Bang Chan.

Emporio Armani gallops into summer

Wild horses galloped on a video playing above the Emporio Armani runway, for a Spring-Summer 2025 collection meant to convey freedom.

Everything about the collection was organic: the colors, the soft silhouette and the natural stone necklaces worn against bare chests. Pleated trousers gave movement to the looks, worn with silky blousons open to the waist, net tops or belted suit jackets. Woven cowboy hats completed the mood, along with sure-footed moccasins or boots.

“This collection takes the Emporio Armani man out of his usual metropolitan habitat,” the show notes said, “leading him on horseback across sunny rises, expanses of lavender and wheat fields stretching into the distance, pervaded by a sense of overwhelming independence.”

Shades of sage, wheat, mustard and ochre fade into the landscape. Only at the end do vibrant colors emerge: lavender and bougainvillea pink, worn against forest green. To close the show, Armani sent out bare-chested models in leather shorts carrying sacks of fragrant lavender, accompanied by well-heeled women in big brim hats and flowing chiffon or silk dresses. The crowd erupted in applause.

Armani, who turns 90 next month, took a bow flanked by his long-time partner Leo Dell’Orco and his niece Silvana Armani.

MSGM projects optimism at 15

MSGM brand founder Massimo Giorgetti woke up the fashion crowd with loud bursts of paintballs splattering colors on glass walls, his way of spreading positive energy.

As his brand celebrates 15 years, Giorgetti said the new collection — Spring-Summer 2025 for men, Resort 2025 for women —aims “to ask everyone to reflect on now and look to a new horizon, hoping that it will be better than today.”

The collection projects optimism with bold stripes, big collars, daisy prints, intarsia knitwear and playful illustrations by British artist Luke Edward Hall. The looks are youthful, with full short skirts and mariner T-shirts for her, or a knit vest with a sun sail and sea motifs worn with khakis for him. But there is also a sophistication, for example, in a long knit dress accented by a yellow wave down the side, or a bright red suit made youthful with a peek of colorful boxer waistband.

“It is not an easy moment,’’ Giorgetti said. “I really hope this collection is an escape.”

Colleen Barry, The Associated Press