Milan Menswear: Restraint At Gucci And (No, Really!) Alexander McQueen
To appreciate just how far Frida Giannini has come with her latest men’s collection for Gucci—one that managed, on the whole, to be both dull and desirable—you only needed to look at her last one, with its brash, flash, synthetic undertow of extreme sports. There was no playing to the windsurfers and scuba guys this time. The first impression of Fall was a camel coat and a pair of sturdy brown loafers, a much more gentlemanly approach to dressing. There was a lot more camel to come, along with brown, ivory, gray, and navy. The restrained palette matched the mature mood of the clothes themselves. Everything looked so polite, so nice, that I could feel myself slipping into a haute bourgeois reverie, where a camel duffel worn over a gray silk turtleneck—or even a safari jacket in a napped blue-gray croc—could be passports to a timeless world of excellent, if quiet, taste. But it was Frida Giannini in charge of passport control, after all, so in the midst of my reverie, an ocelot-printed jacket showed up to épater le bourgeois. And the finale—particularly a jacket in lustrous midnight blue pony—brought the designer back to her rock star roots. Then, for a few fabulous disorienting moments, the place was plunged into pitch darkness, Nirvana’s “Come as You Are” blared to the point of distortion, and out popped Frida to take a bow. I’ll tell you, this girl knows how to make an exit.
See more pictures of the Gucci Fall 2010 show here.
Restraint was also the leitmotif at Alexander McQueen’s presentation. That may seem odd, given that the floors and walls of the venue were covered with a charnel house mosaic of skulls and bones, but the dominant item was a pretty conventional tailored suit. McQueen has said in the past that his collections are a barometer of his emotional state. Complexity and drama in the clothing usually mean he’s unhappy and escaping into his work. The more straightforward propositions come when he’s feeling in love with life. Which could mean McQueen is a most happy fella right now, because a lot of the design energy in this collection was directed toward the prints. And they were sensational, particularly when the designer used trompe l’oeil digital imagery of rough Irish tweeds or woven wools on his classic suiting. The skeleton mosaic looked almost mandala-like on a jacket, and other prints suggested burning feathers, or ink in water, or recently exhumed bones lying in dark loam. You could let your imagination run as hard and fast as you liked (or at least I could). And all this from a man’s suit. That’s the magic of McQueen.
See more pictures of the Alexander McQueen Fall 2010 show here.