The collections currently being shown in Milan will be in-store during next year's Olympic Games. Given the event's all-consuming global nature, we can anticipate some acknowledgement from designers. Italo Zucchelli's collection was built around athleticwear, which makes him the fashion industry's earliest adopter.
At least that's what it looked like at first with the precise tanks and track pants harking back to the special issue of Interview magazine that Bruce Weber shot to mark the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. Weber, of course, was the photographer who used his Calvin Klein advertising campaigns to help redefine the image of American men, and that's always been the part of the Calvin legacy that this designer was hot-wired into, with his models styled as hypermasculine androids. His Spring 2012 show was no exception, but his overliteral celebration of young sports gods rammed home how much of himself Zucchelli has actually been able to bring to the brand. He is obsessive about fabric technology, which means even the most familiar styles are transfigured by unfamiliar substance. When he talked about "multidimensionality," he meant a blouson cut from minutely petaled suede, or a classic blazer created from laser-cut rubber tiles mounted on mesh. It pulsed slightly as the model moved. This mix of the straight-up and the sci-fi defines Zucchelli. (One of his favorite movies is, unsurprisingly, Blade Runner.)
He is like a mad scientist at Calvin Klein, making a new man in his lab. Not every experiment will work: the Kid 'N Play shorts in today's show were on a par with the cropped sweat tops from last Spring. But front-row fan Joe Jonas was loving all the tailoring. He was even spotting potential stage outfits. And it's no mean achievement if Zucchelli has been able to bring a sense of theater to Calvin's trademark minimalism.