Thursday, February 14, 2008

The focus was on fur and artists, on Milan’s runways.

NEXT winter will be warm and cosy for Dolce & Gabbana’s male fans, with big, fluffy sheepskins, chunky jumpers, wraparound wool scarves and cloth caps, the designers suggested in their menswear show in Milan last month.

Debonair: Slim-line suit jacket by Lars Nilsson for Gianfranco Ferre’s Fall/Winter 2008/09 men’s collection.
The duo, the first of the big names to air their ideas for winter 2009 in Milan, focused on blacks, midnight blues and charcoal greys.

Models were wrapped up in huge sheepskin coats or jackets, while gilets looked snug over big-knit baggy jumpers in misty blues and greys.

The designers draped soft wool scarves once or twice around necks and tied them loosely at the back while, to keep ankles warm, ribbed wool cuffs finished off low-slung slim-line trousers.

There was a nod to equestrianism with jodhpurs and high leather boots, or leather patches on the inside of velvet trousers and shirt elbows.

Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce even turned out one model in comfy coffee-coloured combinations – juxtaposed with tough leather knee-length boots.

Accessories – important for luxury brands as they have strong returns and require small amounts of retail space – were also on a generous scale, with soft holdalls in brown and black leather that needed long legs to keep them off the ground.

And flat caps were de rigueur, whether in rough wool, fine wool for smarter wear or a shiny sateen look for evening.

British label Burberry went for a thin silhouette inspired by the paintings of northern England artist L.S. Lowry, said its designer Christopher Bailey.

“I really wanted to look at all the old Lowry paintings ... there’s something quite nostalgic, there’s something (in them) a little romantic, something a bit industrial,” Bailey said.

Smart and well-tailored jacket by Nilsson.
His collection featured peaked dark wool caps and long trenchcoats –reminiscent of the thin, dark figures which populate Lowry’s scenes of Britain’s industrial north in the last century.

Burberry’s men wore small-collared silk shirts with ruched or pleated fronts in coffee and black prints. Slim-line dark trousers appeared stick-like under tweed overcoats or soft duffle coats.

Hats were too big and peaked or knitted, while gloves were oversized in wool or metallic leather.

And bags – like those at Dolce & Gabbana – were big soft grips just right for journeys on a Lowry-era steam train.

Designer Donatella Versace shunned bags, gloves and hats in her show, which was watched by celebrities including pop singer Beyonce.

She used a difficult palette of dull navy, bruise-burgundy and brown which the designer said was inspired by the paintings of artist Tamara de Lempicka.

A focus on tailoring brought back the double-breasted jacket and low-slung straight trousers, instead of the big, snug looks which found favour elsewhere.

Versace’s version of sheepskin was worked hard, for coats with panelling picked out in leather strips – a more penned-in look than the wild and woolly lines at Dolce & Gabbana.

Sparkly cuffs and lapels tricked out a navy dinner jacket while figure-hugging fine knits completed the retro look.

A Burberry bag that’s just right for short journeys.
Lars Nilsson, hired to head designer Gianfranco Ferre after the founder’s death last year, broke with tradition and used a presentation instead of a catwalk show for his first collection.

“I thought this was the right way to present ... my new vision for Gianfranco Ferre,” said Nilsson.

Ferre, known for his skilful tailoring and trademark white shirts for men and women, died after a brain haemorrhage in June 2007. Nilsson promised a catwalk show for his first womenswear collection which will show this month.

The Swedish designer kept the tailored tradition for slim-line suit jackets and overcoats at this presentation, where live models mixed with dummies in a set laid out as four rooms.

Tailoring “is something I like a lot personally and feel very comfortable with. I’m very happy to be able to do that type of work,” Nilsson said.

He made a nod to Ferre’s white shirts only in formal evening wear, otherwise using steely blues, beiges and greys.

Trouser legs were oversized, ruched up in straight leather or billowing in country woollens over oxblood brogues, while he took necks high and buttoned up on warm wool coats and jackets.

“Maybe it’s in the silhouette that I’m breaking away, with more of a fitted jacket and the wider pants,” Nilsson said. “It’s a lot about warmth ... a softness but in a very masculine way.”

At Emporio Armani, ski wear turned urban chic with black and white techno fabrics and jackets or trousers speckled with snow-like sparkles. The Alpine mood ran on in sweaters inspired by Scandinavian patterns with trailing scarves to match.

Cool: Versace’s menswear collection had a more penned-in look.
Giorgio Armani, Italy’s best-known designer, also showed some womenswear at Emporio, which is his less formal line. Girls in short white skirts and black fitted jackets paraded alongside a man in black velvet curved-closure jacket and grey trousers.

Long-flowing women’s trousers and a silvery silk top with bows and pearls were paired with more velvet for a man’s evening suit.

For accessories, Armani had scarves that were swathes of rust and grey wool, while caps had earflaps or were knitted pull-ons – an emerging trend for the season.

Bottega Veneta designer Tomas Maier said he drew inspiration from workmen’s clothes for his collection, which mixed soft fabrics and sharp lines.

“I was very inspired by the workmen’s uniform, what a docker wears to go to work, what a painter wears, what a carpenter wears,” he said.

Maier dressed men in square-cut heavy wool jackets that echoed those worn by roadworkers.

A short-sleeved black sweatshirt was worn with a blue-grey waistcoat and baggy drill trousers, while roomy denim pants were paired with a smart navy overcoat.