Milan designers look to the future and past

Models wear creations for Gucci men's Fall-Winter 2016-2017 collection, part of the Milan Fashion Week, unveiled in Milan, Italy, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
Models wear creations for Gucci men's Fall-Winter 2016-2017 collection, part of the Milan Fashion Week, unveiled in Milan, Italy, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

MILAN (AP) — Milan designers looked both to the future and the past to create contemporary looks for men next winter and fall.

The fashion world continued its heartfelt tributes to David Bowie, celebrated as an icon in the music, art and fashion worlds alike, the remembrances touching in their understated persistence. Giorgio Armani opened his Emporio Armani show with notes from the singer’s “Space Oddity,” while Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele created a jacket with “Bowie” printed boldly on the back that he said he intends to include in a film for the fall/winter 2016/2017 collection.

Some highlights from Monday’s shows, including looks from Gucci, Emporio Armani, Ermanno Scervino, Fendi and Canali.

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FRAGMENTED BEAUTY

Creative director Alessandro Michele created a dreamlike backdrop to unpack a chest full of 1970s memories for his latest Gucci menswear collection. The looks were presented under a reddish light in the freshly red-carpeted disused train depot that the designer, now in his second year at Gucci, has claimed as his theater.

“These are my aesthetic memories that in the end are completely different from yours, but it’s an idea to work after,” Michele said backstage after his menswear preview for next fall and winter.

His runway-realized memories speak of a happy boyhood, with a Sherlock Holmes-style detective cape and cap, this one with crocheted ear covers; Snoopy and Woodstock motifs on T-shirts, a theme that he elaborated later into a Charlie Brown sweater, and a crinkly Western cowboy shirt with boot-leg jeans.

But the boyhood lens also picked up on the adult world, and there was floral tapestry that became coats and suits, crocheted capes and hats that suggested a loving hand, and cozy pajamas with floral embroidery. Each memory was also elaborated: colorful totems were applied to the back of floral jackets; knitted hats had whimsical ears or fantastical monster faces; detective capes came in striking red, rich fur and classic plaid.

The looks were finished with a mélange of rings, beaded necklaces, some with pendants, and headbands with a hand motif. Michele also reinterpreted classic 1970s Gucci. A golden handbag was realized with glittery Gucci red-and-green stripes. The Gucci trench was white, worn with a dramatic red hat.

Michele’s show notes were intimidatingly titled “Poetic Reactivation,” and cited three philosophers, one French, one German, and one Russian. Backstage, he said the starting point for the collection was the idea of “fragmented beauty” that he took from the late Walter Albini, one of the pioneers of Italian ready-to-wear.

“I love the idea that there is an energy in every single thing you do, and every single piece that you put on the clothes. Everything is very precious,” Michele said.

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URBAN ACCELERATION

The Emporio Armani man is urban and sleek, able to move easily in his metropolitan environment. He has a well-defined geometry, but also fluidness. There is no excess, just the essential.

Giorgio Armani used new technology to bond materials for his line aimed at more youthful dressers, creating new forms and a futuristic feel. More formal double-breasted jackets were worn with fluid pleated trousers, while bonded denim trousers were wide and stiff, paired with a matching jacket for an almost robotic effect. A shawl jacket had a casual diagonal zipper worn with athletically cut pants.

The designer adorned trouser legs with laser-cut squares and shirts with clusters of triangles, creating emblems that wouldn’t be out of place on a space shuttle.

The color scheme was likewise regimented, stone grays, forest green and deep blue, with fabrics sometimes taking on the speckled effect of granite, or a repeating Escher geometrical pattern in a print. There was just one flash of color, a teal blue and magenta tie. Shoes were thick-soled, while bags were pragmatic large backpacks and shoppers.

Armani announced his futuristic intent at the opening of the runway show, sending out a team of snowboarders outfitted in tin-foil silver snow parkas paired with swirling black, white and gray leggings. Perhaps the out-of-this world look was in its way another Bowie tribute.

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SPORTY ELEGANCE

Ermanno Scervino’s collection for next winter takes a trajectory from sporty to elegance. That’s not only the looks but the artistic method.

Scervino built on his expertise with lace to create elegant, dressy coats out of embroidery, weaving strands of thread together as if macramé to create swirls of movement with an Astrakhan effect. The three-quarter length sleeves were finished in fur.

What’s more, the coat is equally fetching on a woman as a man, as Scervino demonstrated by sending both down the runway together.

The designer took glam to new heights with crystal-encrusted fabric, which he fashioned into knee-length coats, trousers and a side-wrap dress. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

“It’s not enough for a designer to have a business. He needs to innovate and experiment,” he said.

The Florentine designer, who counts Kim Kardashian and Oprah Winfrey among his clients, has recently opened a Miami store as part of a rapidly growing boutique network — his first in the United States.

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LUSH AND PLUSH

Life is pretty plush at Fendi, with a model gliding down the carpeted spiral staircase in a soft plaid overcoat-cum-day robe with matching trousers to the soothing tones of soul music.

Think of Jack Nicholson playing golf in his robe, one of the references on Silvia Venturini Fendi’s mood board backstage.

Fendi’s looks for next winter were all about soft, cozy comfort, right down to the pleasantly lush accessories: A parka with yellow fur trim was paired with a large yellow, furry bag.

Plaids and checks on jackets, pants and bags created a homey feel, and Fendi boldly paired mohair jackets with matching pants, for a definite Fozzie Bear feel. The look got even more cozy with a bell-shaped hat.

Fendi emblazoned T-shirts, jackets and accessories with a text bubble with Fendi inside, as the brand latches on to the digital conversation. And the designer also created her own emojis, otherwise known as Fendi Faces, by positioning, for example, downcast eyes over a bag’s latch standing in as the mouth. One leather coat cleverly placed eyes on each elbow, giving a wink to whoever is walking behind the wearer.

The attention to detail and luxury were clearly evident in a shearling coat with a check pattern created with the same inlaid leather techniques perfected by the fashion house.

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SUBDUED COLOR

Andrea Pompilio tamed the prints for his Canali capsule collection with dark hues: teal and dark navy check achieved a new tonality.

“It makes the darkness colorful,” Pompilio said backstage after his preview show.

Contrast came from the colorful shirts and printed ties, in mustard, rust and chartreuse.

“I like when you have this very formal look to give something to light up all the looks,” he said.

An anorak of soft double-faced fabric with a removable shearling lining was the statement piece, worn over a jacket and color-blast shirt and tie.

He finished the looks with driving leather gloves with knit cuff.

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This story corrects the first name of Gucci’s creative director to Alessandro instead of Andrea in the 2nd paragraph.

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