MILAN — With a tip of the hat — raffia that is — Milan designers salute old-style summer elegance, as they preview next year’s warm weather styles.
The breezy brimmed straw hat has dominated the current menswear fashion week, making it the symbol for the romantic refined look designers propose from beach resort to pool side.
The latest in the series of those who have reinvented the vintage head cover, including Dolce and Gabbana and Ferragamo, is Kean Etro, who previewed his collection Monday.
Into the third day of Milan preview shows, the looks have been tried-and-true traditional, with occasional outbursts of bold color and eccentric styles by such mavens as Donatella Versace and Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton.
The latest Gucci collection is all about aristocrats, dandies and artists gathered in the haven of a posh gentlemen’s club, playing bridge and exchanging eccentric views.
The wardrobe of a member of the Gucci club has its sporty moment by day, and refined edge by night. The overall mood of the latest Gucci collection presented Monday is of innate elegance.
By day, the Gucci gentleman is into top drawer sportswear from the Equestrian theme with suede padding on trousers and shirts, jockey jackets, crimson linings and saddle stitching, to the micro-quilted fencing jackets and the wide golf trousers complete with elegant pleats.
At night, he is at his most attractive — and he knows it. Dressed in a black tuxedo jacket paired with Prince of Wales plaid trousers and wearing a cocky bow tie and signature Gucci loafers, he needs no I.D. to get in wherever the party is.
At Gucci, knitwear, which makes a big comeback during the current week of preview showings for next year’s spring and summer, is either oversized and woven in special hand-crafted fibers, or super slim in ribbed silk, as sexy as underwear.
Donatella Versace started out softly with soothing blue and beige summer suits with wide trousers and double-breasted jackets, worn with matching two-tone loafers. But the cool look was only a summer mirage.
As soon as the beat of the disco music got going at the menswear show, Versace was back to her old favorites: black leather, gold studs, buckles and straps all part of her trademark tight-fitting sexy styles.
To heat things up for next year’s spring and summer Versace adds flashes of bright color, combining such unlikely palette mates as fuchsia pink for a jacket with tangerine orange for the “matching” trousers. To boot, the accompanying sandals were in apple green leather.
The tighter the look, the more buckles Versace used to hold the outfit together culminating in a cobalt blue trouser with buckle straps replacing seams on a hip hugging pair of pants. These pants were paired with a leather jacket closed with buckles not buttons.
Studs decorated anything from shirts to shoes to leather jackets. One black bomber jacket featured a swirling pattern of golden studs across the front and back.
But Versace crossed all conventional boundaries in a series of silk outfits with Baroque patterns gleaned from the Versace archives, where among other items, a black and blue silk shirt is combined with the same print trousers to look like a jumpsuit.
The Versace patterns were also used for over-the-top poolside outfits with an extra large terry cloth robe and matching swim trunks.
The designing duo Dolce and Gabbana saluted the versatile foulard in the spring/summer 2012 menswear collection for their second line, D&G.
Foulards, often made of silk, can be used as a head covering, worn around the neck, as a belt, or simply tucked in a pocket, like a handkerchief.
In the D&G collection, the foulard, appearing in half a dozen patterns, formed the defining element of everything from blazers to shirts, from swim trunks to trousers.
The theme was a great occasion to deconstruct clothes, and restitch them with a colorful silk cloth to create a contrast of fabrics.
Tapered silk trousers had a denim waistline. The back of a denim shirt was a large foulard print — great ventilation on hot days. Another jean shirt had silken sleeves.
She may have shot to global fame as the designer of the much-admired royal wedding dress, but Sarah Burton hasn’t forgotten the bread-and-butter of the fashion business.
In her first major fashion show since being unveiled as the designer behind Kate Middleton’s nuptial gown, Burton showed her wilder side during the presentation of Alexander McQueen’s menswear collection for next spring and summer.
The line paid tribute to the English rock star, not a small market niche.
He’s larger-than-life, going for bold and even clashing patterns. But he also has an elegant side, with well-tailored suits in more subdued shades.
Plaid pants were paired with a checked baseball jacket, the patterns clashing but the black-and-white color schemes in harmony. Horizontal striped sweater went along with pinstriped pants, as though they were always meant to.
For the stage, there were golden thread pinstriped pants. For photo shoots, rockers could don a chest-baring deep V-neck sweater with silky trouser, or a floral tapestry jacket with matching peacock blue pants.
Etro’s Mediterranean inspired collection, which revisits the elegant shores of the French Riviera in its 1950s heyday, is full of references to the years when the bikini was born, but men still dressed up for a walk along the promenade.
Above all the colors capture the moment, from the pale sea blue to citrus orange and lemon, to blackberry purple and a demure strawberry red.
Prints underline the theme with fancy paisley, dandy tartans and beach umbrella stripes as well as a series of motif prints ranging from dolphins and sea horses to anchors and tennis rackets.
The volumes of jackets and trousers are loose and generous, easy but never casual. When the jacket is double-breasted it is paired with a skinny tie or a carefree silk scarf. The paisley bomber works by day or night.
Bermuda shorts are worn with loafers and black socks, a yesteryear look which regrettably makes a comeback on the current Milan runway.
Missoni is coming full circle.
Ottavio Missoni made his first foray into knitwear for the 1948 London Olympics, producing tracksuits worn by the Italian team. Missoni, who turned 90 this year, also competed in the games as a hurdler. The label’s menswear collection for next summer — when London will again host the event — is a tribute to the Olympic spirit as a source of Missoni’s heritage.
“We want to make people understand where it all started and why we have this comfort idea,” Angela Missoni, Ottavio’s daughter and the brand’s chief designer, said at the Sunday evening preview show.
The collection features a special collaboration with Converse, knit-top Auckland Racer sneakers in Missoni’s classic alternating blue and white.
Knit suits — perhaps more appropriate for casual outings than the track — formed a core of next year’s warm weather collection. Intricate knitting work gave depth to monochromatic navy suits, a single button fastened over a cotton T-shirt in shades of blue.
Shorts appeared in an array of fabrics, from jacquard linen to gabardine, nylon to cotton jersey — the latter in long shorts that perhaps best evoked Olympic memories. They were paired with pullover, cardigan and blazer-style sweaters in classic Missoni zigzags and swirls.
AP Writer Colleen Barry contributed to this report.