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Milan fall-winter 2011 menswear fashion shows

Designers return to selling the sizzle in their menswear collections.

January 23, 2011|By Adam Tschorn | Los Angeles Times
  • A transparent hooded poncho in the Burberry Prorsum collection offers protection from the elements.
A transparent hooded poncho in the Burberry Prorsum collection offers… (Jonas Gustavsson and Peter…)

Reporting from Milan — If the production values of the recent Milan menswear shows are any indication — an indoor rainstorm at Burberry, John Varvatos' railroad track runway and Ermenegildo Zegna's green-screen "Live-D" presentation — luxury brands are done hedging their bets and tightening their belts. They are back to selling the sizzle they hope will sell their steak to men who've been on a bread and water diet for the last several seasons.

Below are a few of the highlights from the opening act of the 2011 fashion show circuit.

Jimmy Choo

The debut of the relaunched men's footwear collection for Jimmy Choo has a little something for everyone and includes many of the signatures found in the women's collection.

"It's basically for the boyfriend of our existing Jimmy Choo customer," a company representative said, "but also [for] someone who appreciates details."

Those details include the leopard-print lining of black vulcanized rubber Wellingtons in a crocodile-skin motif (part of an ongoing collaboration with Hunter) and hand-nailed soles.

One pair of loafers has a chunky pewter bit inspired by a '70s men's bracelet that the brand's founder and chief creative officer, Tamara Mellon, found at a vintage store in Los Angeles. A pair of evening slippers and a pair of sneakers are covered in a velvet jacquard paisley with hidden burlesque silhouettes inspired by the shadowed female forms in the credits of 1970s James Bond films.

In fact, the whole collection has a vibe that's a cross between classic Briton and '70s Mayfair playboy — think one part James Bond and two parts Austin Powers.

The styles in the relaunch collection includes Oxfords, Derbys, monkstraps, dress boots and biker boots, Chelsea boots, and a range of loafers and trainers (aka sneakers).

Aimed at the wide-open territory between the classic men's shoe and the most fashion-forward footwear, most of the collection will retail between $595 and $1,095. There are a few exceptions — such as the real crocodile-skin half-boot with a sterling-silver zipper pull, which will set you back a cool $9,000.

Miuccia Prada

Sometimes Miuccia Prada can be a tough riddle to unravel when it comes to inspiration, but this season's theme was as easy to see as the three-page show invitation printed on see-through plastic; the striated, stacked and meticulously sliced finger sandwiches served to arriving guests; and the double-decker runway framed in wrought-iron fencing designed by architect Rem Koolhaas.

We're talking layers here, people. Not the jacket-over-sweater-over-shirt kind of layers — although that was certainly part of it — but layers of personality, mood and time.

One layer that was definitely present was what might be considered old-school Prada — boxy black three-button jackets, some with high short-notch lapels, others with fold-down collars in various sizes, as well as austere-looking black polo shirts.

But that was just the top layer. Many of these jackets and polos were paired with knickers that ended just below the knee and styled with socks that reached about the same real estate, giving them that '20s look one might see on a street urchin chasing a hoop down the road with a stick.

The strongest layer came straight out of the 1970s. Indeed, Prada's pieces seemed inspired by the '70s wardrobe items we try to block from our memory until someone pulls out a family photo album — bottle-green Lurex V-neck sweaters, boldly patterned polos (also in Lurex) and a range of two-tone suede jackets and overcoats, some with a deep contrasting-color V pattern at the yoke, others with a harlequin pattern.

In fact, if there was one cohesive visual element to the decade-spanning collection beyond the layers, it was the distinctive V shape -- especially if you think of the diamond shape of the harlequin pattern as essentially two back-to-back Vs -- which appeared in one form or another on sweaters, jackets, overcoats and color-block zip-front track jackets.

Ermenegildo Zegna

Fresh off a year-long centennial celebration, Ermenegildo Zegna wasted no time letting the world know where it is focusing at the beginning of its second century — China.

For the last couple of years, China has been a big part of the brand's expansion efforts. So a fall-winter 2011 collection titled "In the Mood for China" doesn't come as much of a surprise.

What did come as a surprise was the way the usually subtle-to-the-point-of-stealth collection invoked that Chinese mood: borrowing liberally from the looks of uniforms from the Chinese Revolution, rendering a piece of classical Chinese art in woven silk fabric that appears throughout the collection and going heavy on lacquered red and bronze accents.

Upon close look, even the most subtle pieces paid homage to the season's theme; the stripes of a wool pinstripe suit resembling — ever so slightly — the distinctive shape of bamboo cane.

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