What clothes do the man do?

Over the past few cycles, the deconstruction of male identity has been at the heart of the menswear conversation and the menswear week that ended in Milan on Monday night was all about finding new ways to look like a male. The desire to dismantle traditional virility came, this time, with a reductionist bent. This, in itself, was nothing new. Minimalism, in the hard-edge, industrial vein of the 90s, is all the rage, but what was interesting was the range of temperatures on offer, ranging from rather cool to… warm.

At DSquared, there was some preppy porn, with “Very Important Penis” spelled loudly on pornstar Rocco Siffredi’s t-shirt, but the brand has been brash and sultry since its inception. Elsewhere, the comings and goings seemed to reflect our prudish, even sexless times.

Surprisingly, Prada, the undisputed temple of robotic masculinity, came with a slight acknowledgment of sexuality this season. The teenage obsessions of Raf Simons and the solid bourgeois leanings of Mrs. Prada, interspersed with their artistic obsessions, came together in a way that put the body (if still extra lean and not long after puberty) at first shot, inside a cold metal cage with a drawing of mud dripping liquid walls all around: part alien, part erotic bodily secretion.

As a gesamtkunstwerk the show was masterful, not a single element out of place. On the fashion side, the collection offers a masculine silhouette that paradoxically recalls a certain femininity of the 1940s: protruding shoulders, fitted waist, rounded hips. Most were very short with embellishments in the form of fringe and origami. It was a confident outing that would translate perfectly – including the sensuality – into something for women: fluidity made real. And yet Prada’s agenda-setting power was lacking. Shortly after the show ended, the idea already seemed kind of dated. But that’s the curse of today: immediate obsolescence. Fighting it requires a serious subversion of the status quo, which was not the case with Prada.

The sexual temperature was high, in a harsh way, in Magliano. After winning the Karl Lagerfeld Prize at the last LVMH Awards, all eyes were on designer Luchino Magliano. He has a wonderful way with sartorial roughness; harbinger of a kind of working-class and debauched elegance skillfully mixing deconstruction, carnality and spontaneity. The clothes he makes resemble a work in progress: they inhabit the space between formalism and workwear, and exude a strong sexual energy, but also the poetry of real life, the consummation of existence.

Magliano is a force to be reckoned with: the standard-bearer of a typically Italian way of doing things, rooted in the product but moving. It’s an approach that Giorgio Armani continues to hone year after year, decade after decade, in a process that is both heroic in its endurance and effortlessly elegant in its production. This season, Armani was Armani again: fluid and sultry in its own masterful way, not a bermuda in sight.

It was a season of shorts, actually, but despite the amount of exposed skin, things were pretty chill. The Valentino show, the brand’s first standalone menswear outlet in a while, and the first in a long time in Milan, where Mr. Valentino first launched menswear in 1985, took place in the main courtyard of the Università Statale and featured mostly shorts

In a supreme effort of cultural storytelling, the invite was accompanied by branded pink copies of author and New York Times magazine editor T Hanya Yanagihara’s morbid, dare we say pornographic detour through disaster and resilience A little life. Passages from the book were also printed, à la Junya Watanabe, on jeans and other garments. A long-awaited acceptance of male frailty was the theme here, but that hardly translated into the offering: immaculate, generously sized, minimal, and rather martial tailoring in arrays of black and white and wacky painterly hues. . In other words, it was the Pierpaolo Piccioli brand. To be sure, it was impeccably executed, and yet the approach felt somehow outdated.

Always minimalist, Neil Barrett loves his neat, pragmatic and efficient fashions. With the fashion tides returning to where he’s always been, he’s enjoying the moment, but bringing a little more life and blood to the offering would help. Matthew Williams is another inveterate reductionist: at Alyx, he continues to explore the harsh and urban side of the pared-down, surely drawing the thin line that separates the simple from the anonymous. Even the usually colorful Massimo Giorgetti has taken MSGM into new, simpler territory this season. Inspired by the sunsets of Tanzania, he delivered what was probably his most accomplished collection to date, all tailored pieces and, uh, sunset prints, not a sweatshirt in sight. A little flavor has been lost, a little maturity has been gained, and that’s growing up. Meanwhile, at Tod’s, Walter Chiapponi was more focused than ever, delivering a sharp vision of Italian elegance.

Tailoring is still Milan’s forte, in varying degrees of ease and innovation. LVMH Prize winner Satoshi Kuwata delivered a masterful lesson in deceptively simple couture at Setchu, connecting East and West through flat, versatile shapes that are both rigorous and playful; precise rather than cold. Tailoring is still very flexible at Brioni, where Norbert Stumpfl continues to carve out a unique subtle niche of total preciousness and total effort. Meanwhile, it was both classy and debauched in Umit Benan, a maverick who deserves more attention.

At Zegna, Alessandro Sartori continues to refine an approach to tailoring that is progressive and innovative while remaining based on traditional craftsmanship, both in terms of materials and techniques. After abandoning the rigidities of the suit, not to mention the tie, Sartori has created a system of tops, bottoms, underwear and accessories in which everything goes with everything and the possibilities expand. The result was efficient and responsible, as well as gentle and intelligent.

The stripping came with a side of amped-up sensuality at Dolce & Gabbana, which moved the sartorial action into softer territories – joining a contingent that includes Dior’s Kim Jones and Valentino’s Piccioli – while maintaining a distinctly Mediterranean signature. The duo’s new release was concise and straightforward: a clean silhouette in a sea of ​​black, white and gray, slender shapes, ample volumes, lots of draping and no decoration. At Emporio Armani, whiffs of the Orient and nods to North Africa coalesced into a taut line that felt energetic and modern, stripped down in the most expressive way, an exciting direction for the line more young Mr. Armani.

Overall, the vibe at Milan Fashion Week was youthful: not in the sense of celebrating young people, but rather embracing the kind of radiant energy that youth carries. The Etro man, a blanket in his hand or transformed into a coat, looked much less choppy and dreamy than usual: a kind of skater, all floppy volumes, stellar knitwear, rhythmic patterns and allegories on t-shirts of football. Nothing to get the conversation going, but alluring and desirable nonetheless.

At Simon Cracker, a certain youthful rebellion is in order, which is the charm of this young upcycling brand. Meanwhile, the mood was easy and windswept at JW Anderson: an experimentation with elemental forms, from rugby jersey to shorts, from V-neck sweater to shirt, that was absurd and provocative in its obviousness. Anderson has the rare ability to achieve a conceptual twist of some heightened simplicity. Although the approach is increasingly formulaic, Anderson delivers. His vision exudes a distant chill that’s somehow also warm, adding an extra layer to the deconstructed man and his temperatures.

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