Entering 2017 there was plenty of change already afoot in fashion. Menswear and womenswear were joining forces and showing together at various brands; others were deciding to show in real-time via the newly coined see-now-buy-now format (Burberry, Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, and even further afield at São Paulo Fashion Week); and social media was entering yet another stratosphere of ranking. Bloggers are out and social media influencers are in. Instagram was a bit over and Snapchat was all the rage; you're either one or the other.
So heading into the first set of shows this January meant that it was going to be more interesting than usual with everyone finding their feet. Most notably there were a good few switch-ups.
Ports 1961 Menswear Fall Winter 2017 in Milan (by Regis Colin-Berthelier for NOWFASHION)
Alexander McQueen decamped to Milan - instead of London - this season to show its Fall/Winter 2017 wares. But it sure didn't leave old Blighty or the capital behind. This collection was an ode to British heritage, its jumping off point being Oscar Wilde and his time in Paris before wandering the gamut of Savile Row and on to the Teddy Boy movement. There were Victorian details and old-school gentleman pieces - pinstripe and velvet, ornate embroidery and beading, a stunning smoking jacket and a spectacular offering of overcoats.
Meanwhile Daks and Ports also brought with them some London spirit. The former, obviously, it's a heritage brand. Opening with two empire-line pairs of trousers, it was meant to be a new take on classic tailoring. These were surely just for show because they seemed more avant-garde than some of the actual avant-garde things we've seen. There are only so many parameters with which you can push tailoring and suiting. The rest was standard, quintessential stuff. Dapper, distinguished and riffing on the idea of a dandy businessman. At times it felt a little twee, but perhaps that was just the tone the opening look had set.
A far cry from English bankers was Ports 1961, which was "informed" by Milan Vukmirovic's early Nineties years in London among its music scene. It wavered between hoodies and cloaks for a Dickensian rave.
Fendi Menswear Fall Winter 2017 Fashion Show in Milan (by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION)
The Puffa Phenomenon
We wondered where the bomber would go next, and we saw some great alternative options proposed earlier in the week, but the puffa seems set to steal the limelight. Dirk Bikkembergs, Fendi, DSquared2, Palm Angels, there were no end of versions. The trick is to get one that is as loud as it is big. Florals work a treat.
Damir Doma Fashion Show Menswear Collection Fall Winter 2017 in Milan (by Regis Colin-Berthelier for NOWFASHION)
Fendi provided its seasonal dictionary - on clothes. So it was slogan heavy but with words of positivity: "yes", "bliss", "try", "think", "fantastic", "trust", "hope". Just as Prada had done, this centred around a sense of everyday dressing: sliders and contrast sleeve overcoats, blousons, sporty zip-up tops and tracksuits. It was comfortable - but super luxe with it. Chilling out Fendi style is the way to do it. As has become a gentle hallmark of the Fendi look, it had something very The Royal Tenenbaums about it - wrap a "fantastic Fendi" sweatband around your head. The punch of colours worked especially well here; this was a fresh and uplifting collection - mood-enhancing and relaxing.
Damir Doma is another designer who specialises in relaxing; his silhouettes soft and organic with craft key throughout - and he's a designer that shows his menswear and womenswear together. Added to the signature texture and warmth, there came utility pieces which worked very well in contrast, as did his use of orange for a lock among the calm.
Paris is about to begin, but one can't help but think even though womenswear usually hogs the spotlight, that this menswear season will actually turn out to have been quite pivotal. Menswear has always hinted at womenswear - and of course we've even seen some of that already - but as the first look at fashion, in a brand new year of what is set to be a very different year, makes it all the more pertinent. And let's not forget that Dolce & Gabbana show.