MILAN, Italy — Women aren't the only ones who'll show lots of leg in the coming season. The short skirts that are the sensation of the women's-wear industry right now appear to be having some "baring" on menswear as well.
At the Milan designer collections for spring/summer 1988 presented here last week, there was lots of show of leg--in shorts.
Shorts were not just a warm-weather option but a warming trend in almost every collection here--from knock-around knickers to spiffy Bermuda suits.
Giorgio Armani, who continues to be the leader here in terms of the way the world perceives Italian menswear, was giving short orders with all the authority he has earned over the long stretch.
Armani showed tight knit shorts that touched just above or just below the knee, influenced both by football and bicycling uniforms. They were coupled with sport jackets and sometimes dressy summer vests. Other shorts, in cotton sheeting, are rolled easily at the knee. Even Armani's jeans line features tight denims hemmed at the knee. Another pair of trousers touch at mid-calf. Armani punctuated all this shortening at the end of the show by having the collection's bridegroom all decked out in black Bermudas and a short white captain's jacket.
Armani's long suit was also important--in softly constructed silhouettes with broad-shouldered jackets and full-legged trousers. These were in the richly textured, yet featherweight, quality fabrics that show he understands the Southern California casual ethic and need for low-weight clothes.
Gianfranco Ferre, after several seasons featuring extremely expensive clothes that were often refined interpretations of Army surplus designs, is now refining the British India look.
Ferre's best short subjects are a pair of dusty suede Raj Bermudas, rolled at the cuff and coupled with a matching suede shirt jacket. He also features white cotton sheeting shorts rolled at the waist and cuffs, shown with a white cotton short-sleeve shirt.
White ensembles look important in most of the Milan spring/summer collections, especially at Ferre. Here, a crisp, cool, featherweight white linen suit is nipped at the waist and has cuffs lightly rolled at the wrist.
Ferre's evening wear features silk shirts worn casually open at the neck, softly constructed dinner jackets in richly colored elaborate fabrics and wide wrapped cummerbunds--elegant but easy ensembles that will ease the minds of men who think formal wear is confining.
The total effect is really more L.A.-relaxed than India-Raj.
Gianni Versace has also refined his designs, which have often had a surfeit of details or exaggerated silhouettes.
Again, the easy, softly constructed suit is the star for spring/summer. But Versace's are elegantly defined in subtle print fabrics that resemble tie patterns in muted tones.
The casual approach to tailored clothing seen everywhere is also exemplified here by suits and sport jackets shown with open-neck, tie-less shirts--a look many Southern California men have appreciated for decades now.
Versace dresses up his shirts a bit with collars with notch lapels or deep-button stances that bare a bit of the chest. He still adds a baroque touch now and then to his designs, but now it's a belt with an elaborate metal buckle or a stunning paisley silk shirt for lounging in high style.
Luciano Soprani does a terrific balancing act in his collection. Beautiful summer-weight gray business suits--a three-button model looks both new and retro here--are shown with or without ties.
For the more relaxed professional, he offers gabardine shirt jackets, lightweight knit sweater blazers or white polo shirts with matching white cardigans worn over.
Soprani also shows a group of summer white shirts with interesting collar and pocket details that render them both dressy and sporty. His Bermuda shorts are dressed up with a white wing-collar shirt and natty sweater blazer.
The Byblos designers, Keith Varty and Alan Cleaver, continue to create one of the most innovative collections on the Italian front. Their cool, casual summer statements are head-to-toe pale pastel ensembles in shades of mint, peach, aqua and powder blue. The long duster coat often adds some drama to this relaxed look. Again, polo shirts or sport shirts buttoned to the neck have taken the place of dress shirts and ties.
Other spring/summer stars in Milan: Missoni's Perry Como textured cardigan sweaters and the fishing-village-design polo sweaters with intarsia; Barba's cream-and-gray-stripe rayon suit and pink linen vest; GianMarco Venturi's bold floral pattern suits and sport jackets; shirts and polo sweaters everywhere with zipped fronts or necklines.