Along with the military luxe look of the belted soldiers came lots of dangling exterior leather holsters hanging from those belts (not a good look — unless you're a Boy Scout) and some seriously oversized fur hats.
Dolce & Gabbana
At Dolce & Gabbana, the show notes were labeled "eccentric tailoring," and that wasn't a reference to the choice of Bryan Ferry as inspiration. (The British singer's album artwork appeared on T-shirts in the show, his songs "Shameless" and "One Night" accompanied the runway presentation, and Ferry himself was front row.)
The "eccentric tailoring" was a reference to the shrunken jackets, the lower trouser rise, the mix-and-match patchwork of gray fabrics and what seemed to be an exercise in pocket science — cramming an inordinate number of zippered and buttoned pockets onto a single pair of pants.
The fall-winter 2011 collection was based in a black and gray color palette, with a heavy splash of red throughout, including in a red-and-black floral brocade suit, red-and-black horizontal striped sweaters, red military-inspired flight jackets and a handful of red-painted denim. There was also a colorful punch of purple — most memorably in a glittery disco ball of a tuxedo jacket — that added to the relaxed, informal feel of the collection.
Burberry's chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey, made it rain on the (indoor) runway for the finale of the Burberry Prorsum show, sending his models down the slick catwalk wearing transparent hooded ponchos.
Sure it was gimmicky, but it helped underscore the fall and winter 2011 season's emphasis on protective outerwear pieces. Standouts included a boxy, oversized blanket coat in a bold blue check and a wool duffel coat in bright tangerine.
Insulation from the cold also came in the form of fur, which was generously used on the lapels of a double-breasted three-quarter-length coat, patched into chunky cable-knit sweaters, piled onto driving caps and wrapped around holdalls and tote bags.
Woolrich Woolen Mills
In his first collection for Woolrich Woolen Mills, Mark McNairy made it clear that he's not as much replacing Daiki Suzuki as the designer at the label (though he does succeed him in that position) as much as he is writing his own chapter in the life of the label.
In a sharp collection that drew inspiration from the mid-20th century uniforms of the U.S. Navy and the unspoken dress code of the Ivy League, with a smattering of other influences that included Marine Corps dress uniforms and the musical "South Pacific," McNairy served up chinos (in black and khaki), a button-down dress shirt in a riot of mixed plaid, a handful of vests and jackets (including a navy blue three-button blazer with a zip-closure pocket and a gray wool two-button layering piece with four patch pockets).
The range of outerwear pieces included a geometric pattern wool duffle coat, knit caps with WWM screen-printed on the front, and — in what felt like the only questionable piece in the collection — a trucker cap that was plaid in the front and yellow mesh in the back.
That bright yellow accent color was used to better effect in bag straps (bags and belts are new for the label this season) and an eye-catching quilted nylon vest that McNairy said was inspired by the flight deck vests worn on Navy aircraft carriers.
Etro and Moncler Gamme Bleu
The runways of the men's fall and winter collections are no stranger to animal hides — fur, shearling and leather are a staple of cold-weather luxury.
But a couple of the Milan shows went whole hog on the animal theme — well, "whole cow" in the case of Etro and the dog-and-pony (make that horse) show at Moncler Gamme Bleu.
Etro used the bovine motif as "a metaphor for mountain and central European culture." Mixed in with the over-the-top hairy cowhide that appeared on jackets, trousers and shoes were subtle Tyrolean touches, found in the shape of the hats, the braiding design patterns, shirt embroidery and the leather piping accents on jacket collars and pockets.
In the end, it was these more delicate and subdued references to European mountain culture that kept Etro's mad cow of a collection from veering into the unwearable.
At Moncler Gamme Bleu, Thom Browne's penchant for showmanship nearly overshadowed a collection inspired by the sports of hunting and horseback riding. Held at the Centro Ippico Lombardo (Lombardy Riding Center), it included a quintet of men on horseback — nattily attired in full riding regalia — followed by a bevy of barking beagles in the temporary stewardship of models in hunting-themed garb.