Milan’s Return to Timely Elegance

What will be the look of future generations? It’s been a few seasons since designers declared that a return to old-school elegance was nearing, yet nothing seemed to be happening. On the other hand, this season, Milanese designers actually tried to take a stand.

“We’ve reached a peak moment in the menswear market where men have had enough of streetwear, and as dandyish style emerges, I think we’re ready to start dressing elegantly again,” said Alessandro Marinella, who just joined his family’s tie-making company, E. Marinella, headed by his father Maurizio Marinella. The Neapolitan brand, which will be celebrating 106 years of business, hosted an elegant presentation at The Grand Hotel de Milan showcasing their classical silk ties.

Streetwear has indeed peaked and reached a point of over-saturation, and this urge towards old school elegance was evident at Kiton, especially through the tailoring - cashmere pied de poule jackets in a variety of colour variants (navy blue, forest green, black) were designed with the aim to be worn as sweaters, light to the touch yet still providing maximal warmth for the wearer. Inspired by the strong lines of street architecture, KTN, the younger, sportier line designed by twins Mariano and Walter de Matteis, presented a series of suits in stretchy activewear fabrics, bringing forth their interest in exploring the relationship between fabrics and technologies.

Brunello Cucinellis strength always lies in the perfectly-crafted garments, he delivers every season, which often favours a colour palette of neutrals. For Fall Winter 2020/21, Cucinelli spiced things up by brightening up his usual line up of classic knits with a palette which included touches of pomegranate, carrot, corn and aubergine, as well as colour block patterns. Stand out garments this season included a short bomber jacket in reversible double cashmere and a jacket in velvet, made from Sea Island Cotton. 

Last but not least Neil Barrett continued his fascination with the evolution of the masculine dress by reinforcing this contrast between elegance and activewear and creating a conversation between the handmade and the industrial. However, rather than following the same path of his counterparts, Barrett steered in a more artistic direction: rivets, stitchings and fastening systems were macro scaled; a classic coat was transformed into a hybrid as leather cuffs and panels were added to a woollen base; worker’s satchels, artists portfolios and messengers were reinterpreted in shearling; desert boots and mocassins were elevated through cow print pony skin and bolder, statement soles. This season the designer also collaborated with a Milan-based graffiti artist known as Red on a series of works to be integrated into the collection. Famous artworks, such as Vernier’s Girl with The Pearl Earring were reimagined alongside text-based works, styled under more classical tailored looks.

Yet does this mean we’ll be going back to timely old school elegance any time soon? Probably not, but Milan’s traditional menswear houses, are trying to veer the wheel in that direction.

At present, few men have time to put together stylish looks which merge comfort and style, in clever or creative ways and as demonstrated, the perfect formula seems to be that of merging activewear, sportswear and classical tailoring for a contemporary everyday look.

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