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Things are not what they seem at Milan Fashion Week

Things are not what they seem at Milan Fashion Week
Things are not what they seem at Milan Fashion Week

 


Right and wrong seemed to preoccupy Milan this spring/summer 2025 men's season and, for once, it wasn't about fur. Rather, it is a broader scope, nodding to the dupe culture of counterfeiting, AI and deep fakes, artificially plumped faces and the flatness of two-dimensional images .

It seems like a strange group of references, but not as strange as some of the fashion visions we've seen: Martine Rose attached visible prosthetic noses to models wearing bootleg football kits at her first Milan show; Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons created trompe-l'oeil clothing, including 3D-printed belts hung low around the crotch of their pants; and even Zegna, sober and sophisticated, sent models holding a bag in each hand into a (real) field of (fake) linen.

A male model wears dark gray pants and a matching cardigan while carrying a leather gym bag.
At Prada, models wore 3D printed belts and trompe l'oeil cardigans… Monique
A male model wears gray khaki pants and a lime green cardigan
…while the brand's logo was engraved on shirts, sweaters and coats Monique

Perhaps the point of all this trickery was authenticity, engaging with your audience in a true and meaningful way, and therefore convincing them to buy pieces? The Prada knockoff, for example, was completely convincing. From afar, the clothes looked normal until they got closer and you realized that a striped t-shirt and scarf were actually an all-in-one print, or that a cardigan over a shirt was actually made up of a single, well-knit sweater, stitched with decorative buttons. .

A middle-aged man carries two leather bags while wearing black pants and shirt and a dark brown leather jacket
Actor Mads Mikkelsen closed the Zegna show… Filippo Fior/Gorunway.com
A man wears sand-colored pants and a matching shirt and carries a beige bag over one shoulder.
…which took place on a field of false flax Filippo Fior/Gorunway.com

Instead of emblems and slogans, Prada carved triangles on the back of the neck on shirts, sweaters and coats, like an anti-logo, sometimes exposing the underlayers, sometimes the skin. It was a fantastic example of the fashion show as a vehicle for transmitting ideas; the clothes literally transformed before our eyes as the details came into focus.

All those printed belts, inlaid across the hip of the pants, also looked great, a striking detail that, oddly enough, could easily transfer into the wardrobe of a man who wants to draw attention and focus eyes on his groin. Elsewhere there were more subtle touches, like twisted collars and cuffs of Oxford shirts or cotton jackets in the bright colors of poster paintings, as if the clothes were being handled by an unfelt wind, and flat pants wool fabrics printed to resemble heavy tweeds. The bags were strong, durable and sellable.

Bags were also the center of attention at Fendi, where the brand is about to enter its 100th anniversary in business under a new CEO, Pierre-Emmanuel Angeloglou. Silvia Venturini Fendi seemed to question what constitutes true luxury, looking back on a century of craftsmanship and translating it into her new pieces. She settled on the house's thick, saddlery-based Selleria stitching, using it to edge outerwear and ubiquitous leather goods.

A male model wears dark blue jeans and a light blue shirt and carries a small blue satchel
Fendi focused on craftsmanship, showcasing the brand's signature Selleria stitching on handbags and outerwear… Aldo Castoldi
A male model wears dark blue shorts, a short-sleeved coat and a small blue satchel.
…and created his own football jerseys Aldo Castoldi

Oddly enough, like Martine Rose, she also took inspiration from football, an Italian national obsession with competing with fashion, and created her own ersatz crest to decorate her clothes, marked with Fendi emblems taken from the archives, where she spent a lot of time recently. This is an approach many brands take, given that history is something that cannot be falsified.

The reality of Dolce & Gabbana was much simpler: no intellectual consideration of the simulacra that populate modern society, no archaeological excavations in the archives in search of lost time. The collection was an homage to Italy (their usual terrain of inspiration), via Neapolitan couture and a detour through Marcello Mastroianni's mid-century back catalog. This resulted in a sleek, summery collection of fitted short shorts and baggy amphora pants tied at the hem, wide shirts and chunky stripes like the Pali da Casada that pierces the Venetian docks.

A male model wears loose black pants and a black shirt with a knee-length orange and black overcoat.
At Dolce & Gabbana, some looks were made from hand-woven raffia… Isidore Montag/Gorunway.com
A male model wears moss green pants and a black-white-green striped t-shirt
…while others recalled the stripes of the Pali da Casada in Venice Isidore Montag/Gorunway.com

There were also looks in hand-woven raffia, a nod to Italian artisanal traditions but with a lightness to the touch. Indeed, after a few rather heavy collections, it was Dolce & Gabbana which softened, refreshed and reshaped itself. It was an easy show to watch and enjoy; they are clothes that are easy to wear and enjoy.

The same was true for merchandise at Gucci. The brand's still-new designer, Sabato De Sarno, anchored his clothes in a crispness of line, an aesthetic push to reignite interest in the brand, but now strives to compress intense craftsmanship into these silhouettes simple.

A male model wears dark shorts and a pink waist-length coat
At Gucci, Sabato De Sarno presented shorts, printed shirts and sequined jackets… Monique
A male model wears dark shorts and a shimmering yellow shirt
…in a palette of lavender, blush pink and acid green Monique

He also has an excellent sense of color: his signature ancora red, the succulent color of beef carpaccio, was joined this time by a brittle icy lavender, a blushing pink and an acidic green. These colors might be bold choices for a man, just like shirts bristling with thousands of sequins or beads above barely crazy short shorts (yes, a trend is born), but De Sarno made them eminently real. The same was true for essential accessories, on which Gucci's business is based. They were small, shiny handbags in shiny leather, embossed with the brand's logo, which had the indulgent appeal of boiled sweets.

So it was the easiest and most real. How about something a little trickier and more surreal? JW Anderson put on a grand spectacle of gargantuan knits, buckled satin ties, strange shredded car wash skirts, and desirable leather or nylon bomber jackets with a strange upward kick on their hems . He was inspired, he says, by the idea of ​​being spaced out.

Model wears oversized yellow jacket and slouchy canvas boots
At JW Anderson, the clothes were of extravagant proportions, with gargantuan knits and satin ties with buckles…
A model wears loose blue jeans and a beige shirt
…following the signature style of designer Jonathan Andersons

The clothes themselves were trippy, with extravagant proportions, quilted satin coats or leather tunics hugging the body, leaving the models' skinny legs dangling awkwardly. Every day they weren't. But Anderson's prices are accessible and his audience is young and . In part, the extreme clothing he saw young people wearing served as the basis for this collection, which was one of his finest releases. A series of separate knitted rooms, styled like Georgian townhouses, may well be as close to the property as many Gen Zers get.

A male model wears dark blue jeans and a gray jacket
Martine Roses' Milan debut took place in a dark warehouse…
A male model wears light jeans and a striped t-shirt
…with models sporting fake stuck-on noses and clothing that explored perversity

London designer Martine Rose, who I've mentioned several times before, presented a wacky and bizarre spectacle of models walking around a dark warehouse in scruffy knee-length wigs with fake noses visibly stuck on. The clothes were also strange, but in their explorations of kinky leather zippered crotches on pants, prominent breasts on women's clothing, and the word Eros printed on clothes, they had a connection to the hyper-sexualization of the culture today's pop.

Rose is an influential figure: his asymmetrical proportions and intentionally ugly accessories have had a broad impact on men's fashion over the past decade, amplified at one point by a consultancy at Balenciaga. It was her first show in Milan, and even though she was overshadowed by the business savvy and advertising power of giant Italian brands, Rose's work still resonated loudly because it is 100% authentic.

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