It was only a matter of time before one of the established European houses snapped up Umit Benan, the cosmopolitan 30-year-old Milan-based designer with a gift for sartorial storytelling, a sophisticated color sense, and charm to spare. The only question was, would it be a good match? What drew him to his new gig at Trussardi, Benan said at a preview a few hours before his debut presentation, was the fact that the Italian company's golden age was the eighties, the era that he continues to mine so assiduously for his own line. Though he didn't say it, you also suspect that he likes the idea that the house codes aren't necessarily set in stone. He sees the essential characteristic of the label as a certain mood—what he called the "charisma" of longtime driving force Nicola Trussardi. That leaves Benan with a reasonably blank canvas on which to weave his particular brand of magic.
The conceit he hit on today was to restore a little of the fun and luxury to travel. As editors stood squeezed into the Trussardi store, a series of fancy cars pulled up outside on the Piazza della Scala, their arrival first spied on video screens inside the shop. Benan's protagonists—men he described as an Ocean's Eleven-type gang or soccer players returning victorious from the World Cup—jumped out. Each toting a different set of luggage, they took a lap through the store before depositing their bags with a "doorman" by the elevators. There was an unreconstructed eighties feel to the clothes they wore. Mark Vanderloo, emerging from a low-slung Mercedes of the kind Richard Gere drove in American Gigolo, had on a white boiler suit and mirrored shades. A bearded model wore a navy duster coat that Benan had taken directly from the archives, adding a contrasting collar in crocodile. Other models wore rakish safari jackets or double breasted jackets in the sort of rich shades that the designer favors for his own line, albeit in a rather more traditional cut. There were only around 20 looks, but part of Benan's strength is his refusal to be pushed too far too fast. It's the same confidence that allows him to resist over-modernizing that duster coat.
In many ways, it feels like the designer's work here has barely started (he will tackle the label's womenswear too in the Fall), but he has already begun to transform Trussardi from an item-driven label to one with a story to tell.