A short insight into Italian fashion leaders, style and vogue as it relates to today's world. The rich culture laid down by Italian designers throughout the centuries, reveals how clothing affects everything in our everyday lives; from our moods, to status perception, to careers and even attracting a mate.
At Milan's Fall Fashion review, 2014 finds designers again trying to push the boundaries of extremes to see what sticks with the public at large. True to history, the Milan runway shows featured styles and fabrics that, for the most part, will never make it into the stores, but show the direction of that particular brand and others in general.
With an expanding Asian and Japanese market, creative directors have turned their marketing attention there. Venerable classicist, Brioni, looked to Japan for inspiration with kimono belted suits in luxurious Zen dynasty motif wools. Not a trend that will be seen much on the streets of many major cities of the world, but may inspire that style to resurge in other forms. Their interpretations of casual and dress shirts with dragons and pagodas, continues a trend towards printed shirts that most designers have embraced.
What happened to shape in clothing? Drapier and fuller-cut clothing seems to be the norm this season, with some styling that does away with a jacket's front darting, the most important area of a jacket that contours the waist, and prefers to let it hang straight down. Prada has experimented with this particular, almost androgynous, boxier look, especially in its outerwear collection, again, reminiscent of Japanese suit styling from a few decades ago.
Style consistency seems to have been abandoned and substituted with a mish-mash of experimental areas that leave the consumer in limbo as to what is fashionable and what is not
Two long-standing conflicts are two-button jackets versus three-button and pleated pants versus flat fronts.
Though two-button has been strong, three-button has still been lurking in the background. Not the usual three-button from ten years ago, but a hybrid that rolls the lapel to the second button. Pretty sophisticated Italian style, but stick to the two-button if you are not too adventurous.
Single pleated pants are back on the fringe again, for the fourth season in a row, and although, for dress slacks, they may offer a little more comfort, I much prefer to see the clean lines of flat fronts especially with suits. The conflict between a narrower shouldered jacket, fuller pleated pant and narrower, tighter pant legs gives a lop-sided, almost diamond shaped silhouette that is neither flattering nor appealing to the eye. It's a style that lacks imagination and identity.
Outerwear this year made a huge 180 in overall shaping by not having any shape at all. Oversized body and lapels, wraparound belts combined with "bathrobe" like styling brought stylish men's clothing to a whole new low. It is a sloppy version of what beautiful clothing should really look like, especially using luxurious and innovative fabrics.
The peacoat and short leather bomber jackets have also seen a resurgence with most designers for their casual collections.
The only redeeming and innovative collections put forth for this fall from Italian designers was from Kean Etro, of Italy's venerable house of Etro. Etro always seems to push the envelope on styling, but without the "costume party" effect that most other creative directors seem to engage in. The interpretations of bold checks, combined with superb tailored lines brings a taste of Italian modernism to Savile Row tailoring, fabrics and lines with which Italy has had a long love affair.
Most men in our geographical area would cringe at even wearing something so bold, but given a little prodding of encouragement, wearing this look will boost their self confidence in expanding their wardrobe horizons.
So what should you look for when shopping for your fall wardrobe?
CLASSIC: Trimmer two-button jackets and flat front pants. Keep it simple with solid charcoals or muted checks and vests for suits and sports jackets.
FASHION: Trim two or three-button jackets, bold patterns (especially window pane checks), unlined casual and suit jackets for a softer look. Very trim pants in flat fronts and vested suits.
COLORS: Many of the ruby or burgundy colors, light browns, heathers and jewel greens are newer fall colors.
BEST RULES FOR DRESSING:
1. Listen to your clothier as to what colors or styles would look good on you.
2. Be inventive and try new ideas. You will be impressed with the feedback
3. Do not be afraid of a closer fitting garment. It's supposed to feel that way. You are so used to your old clothing fitting like a tent that everything will feel tighter than "normal."
4. Do not wait until you have seen a style in the stores for a year before you try it.
5. Wear a new look every day.
6. You only live once. Be confident in what you wear.
Style is like business. Be a leader not a follower.