We might be here to see clothes, but that can sometimes take a backseat. It does for Vivienne Westwood. You turn up to a collection, not to see its theme or inspiration per se – because she’s wonderfully coined that and has been doing so for years already – but to hear her latest manifesto, her political viewpoint, her latest gripe, her latest Eureka moment. Today she concentrated her efforts on Julian Assange and what she called his “unlawful detention.” And so pre-collection, showed a video in which she addressed this and gave the Prime Minister, David Cameron, a stern telling off. The show notes continued her plight – they always do, a newsletter to elaborate on all of the above and more. But, oddly, despite there being something to be down about or rally about each and every time, there’s always a sense of hope when it comes to Westwood, too. And, clearly, her usual mash-up of hoodies and capes and knits and swathes and swags and dresses on boys is her ongoing utopian vision when it comes to the wardrobe.
Vivienne Westwood menswear Spring/Summer 2017 show, Milan, by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION
Meanwhile, another message to be conveyed and a utopia to be found was at Damir Doma. The Croatian-German designer, who relocated his business from Paris to Milan last year, took the opportunity to align his menswear and womenswear, showing them together, and to promote Macao, a new centre for arts and culture in downtown Milan, where the show was staged. The semi-dilapidated building with its worn walls was the perfect setting for a collection that translated those same deconstructed elements into clothes. Raw edges, patchwork, seemingly singed; pieces were pierced and collaged. It had a slight Scandinavian Gothicism to it, cool and understated, but filled with attitude and a great one at that to have on the Milan Fashion Week schedule. Just as there was a renewed energy in Milan last season when it came to the womenswear, it seems the same is happening with menswear.
Damir Doma menswear Spring/Summer 2017 show, Milan, by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION
And even newer to the schedule, and with a relaxed-and-youthful-preppy-soaked silhouette to bite at the ankles of Milan’s more traditional brands, was Sunnei. The brainchild of Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo, it’s fun among the standard and potentially staid, seeking to inject some street into the classics. And a quick glance shows you that there is room for that and they look to be doing it nicely.
Sunnei menswear Spring/Summer 2017 show, Milan, by Régis Colin-Berthelier for NOWFASHION
Finally, a note on Bottega Veneta: Would you believe that Tomas Maier has been at the luxury brand for 15 years? He has. And it coincides with another landmark for the brand – 50 years. So this season there was no menswear show. But that doesn’t mean the message is a show-business rethink (not yet, anyway). Because it’s a double anniversary, all the celebrating will wait until September. What it did mean though was an up-close look at Maier’s Spring/Summer 2017 menswear handiwork – he is a master of craft and Bottega a brand built on artisanal work and detail. And it’s well worth zooming on in: the woven leather braid, the contrast colour piping, the patchwork (lots and lots of it in exotic skins) for a collection anchored in Forties workwear silhouettes and reference. Which made for some seriously great jackets and a wide-leg trouser shape that could have stepped straight off of the set of South Pacific. The two points to note: workwear with roots in Americana style is forming quite the criteria reference point – jackets in particular popping up across Milan in this vein; and that following a day of shows that screeched with bells and whistles, it was nice to go low-fi and up close.
A photo posted by NOWFASHION (@nowfashion) on Jun 20, 2016 at 7:34am PDT