Whether you are aching for the great outdoors or in search of sleek office-appropriate suiting, the latest menswear shows in Milan for the Fall-Winter 2024 season offered options for the everyday.
Signaling a return to sartorial pragmatism, designers leant into classic cuts with a heavy emphasis on comfort and function through a luxury lens.
The great outdoors
Dressing for the elements loomed large on the mood boards of many of the bellwether brands. At Prada, co-creative directors Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons’ collection, titled “Human Nature,” hinged on the human need to connect with the world around us, said Simons backstage.Set against a backdrop of bland office booths and oscillating chairs — in sharp contrast to a natural woodland floor beneath the Perspex runway —Prada-approved office attire was complemented by all-weather trenches, padded workwear coats and double-breasted sheepskin coats riffing off a high-seas theme.
“There is this idea of echoing surroundings, being influenced by environments in the garments themselves — office and nature, inside and out, the instinctive change of people shifting between these opposite spheres,” said Simons.
This yellow coat and matching hat channeled fisherman chic at SS Daley.Giovanni Giannoni/WWD/Getty Images
A seafaring element was evident in the collection at Emporio Armani too.Giovanni Giannoni/WWD/Getty Images
The maritime mood was also popular with Emporio Armani, where sailor collars and nautical-motif knitwear swept under the rotating beam of a lighthouse, installed at the Armani Silos location especially for the occasion. Elsewhere, British designer Steven Stokey Daley (fresh from the announcement that long-time brand fan Harry Styles has taken shares in his label) had delivered a bright yellow fisherman jacket a couple of days before at Pitti Uomo in Florence.
The fisherman uniform also popped up at Fendi where creative director, Silvia Venturini Fendi, took the outdoors mood to the country, telling CNN that Britain’s Princess Anne (“the most elegant woman in the world”) was her muse.
Britain’s Princess Anne was a slightly unlikely inspiration for Fendi’s menswear collection for Fall-Winter 2024.Alessandro Levati/Getty Images
“She’s very rigorous and she has this kind of military-minded attitude — but feminine at the same time,” Fendi said of the Princess Royal. “I like the fact that she has a kind of a uniform and always dresses the same. I would say she’s an anti-fashion person and for me, anti-fashion is very fashionable today.”
Fendi’s kilt-cum-culottes, chunky knitwear and Wellington boots all captured the Balmoral look, a silhouette that was presented later the same day by designer Neil Barrett who talked of “engineered function” as he revealed his new “techno-tweeds ” derived from traditional British Harris threads.
Alongside the elemental-inspired wardrobe came suiting with renewed relevance. For the first time in a long time, practically every collection had at least one take on the suit; from the expected houses — Brioni, Brunello Cucinelli and Canali — to the more unconventional brands on the schedule, such as JordanLuca and Magliano.
Elevated clothing for the everyday was in evidence on many runways, including JW Anderson, above.Justin Shin/Getty Images
White-tie attire emerged as a frontrunner, appearing in the form of tuxedo shirts worn with tights at JW Anderson and tailcoats at S.S. Daley, conjuring the costume department of Saltburn (even if Daley distanced himself from the reference, asserting that he had deliberately not watched Emerald Fennell’s Oscar contender). Meanwhile, head-to-toe morning suits at Dolce & Gabbana established elegance as a key code moving forward.
Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce made sure they were ready to capitalize on the mood they have mooted for the last four decades with a dramatic dial down on flamboyance and an emphasis on classic tailoring in its place.
Dolce & Gabbana focussed on wearable, classic tailoring and long coats.Stefania D’Alessandro/WireImage/Getty Images
“This is for a young man who wants to look sophisticated and elegant… (giving) respect to the tailoring tradition and a voice to our tailors who work here,” said the pair at a preview.
To complement the sleek lines of suits came long coats in fine wool and leather that were part “Bladerunner,” part “Matrix” and part ode to the 1990s. No better was this seen than at Gucci, where Sabato de Sarno made his menswear debut as creative director. An on-the-record admirer of his 1990s predecessor Tom Ford, his floor-sweeping designs came in forest-green and his newly-minted shade, ‘Ancora red’.
A long coat in “ancor red,” designer Sabato de Sarno’s new shade, on display at Gucci.Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images
“It’s a story of movies, of my beloved Italy, of intellectuals and travels around the world but still feeling at home wherever you are. A story of objects — shiny, tactile and cold to the touch but warm to the heart and soul, these are desirable to collect, not for a museum but to enrich everyday life,” relayed de Sarno in the show notes.
A lesson in moderation
The widespread return to sobriety, however, was less dry January and more a lesson in moderation — with subtle points of interest peppered throughout.
The brooch is back, pinned to lapels at S.S. Daley, Magliano, Emporio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana. At MSGM, designer Massimo Giorgetti shrunk the red handlebars designed by Franco Albini for the Milan Metro (the stimulus and location of his show) as pins on blazers.
A golden brooch on the lapel of an updated tuxedo Dolce & Gabanna.Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
Brooches were also unveiled at MSGM.Justin Shin/Getty Images
Restrained glitz appeared on diamante-appliqued vests and palazzo pants at Gucci, all-over sequined trousers at Magliano and embroidered jeweled coats at Emporio Armani — a marked departure from the flamboyance that menswear has purveyed of late. When it wasn’t a sequin catching the eye, it was an animal motif: Cats were the domestic pet of choice at Magliano and JW Anderson, while farmyard sheep popped up on knitwear intarsia at S.S. Daley.
Longevity in the spotlight
Functional, useful, and classic separates are the themes of this low-key season, a logical response, perhaps, to both the calls for a more sustainable approach to fashion that values longevity, and the current fall in luxury spending.
Functional, useful and classic, as above at Emporio Armani, were the key themes of the season in Milan.Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
With luxury groups LVMH and Kering both reporting a slowdown in sales (inflation and a decrease in aspirational shoppers have been flagged as contributing factors) and the market on a correction course following the post-pandemic sales boom, menswear might do well to err on the side of aesthetic caution and broad appeal. Whether really good suits, warm outdoors gear and a lack of gimmicks is the answer remains to be seen.