Be the man you want to be
A few days ago, on the 8th issue of System Magazine, I red a beautiful conversation between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. I was struck by something that Simons said: when buying clothes nowadays, most people have lost the idea that the clothes you wear carry not only an aesthetic but also the values and vision of the people who design them.
[Jonathan Wingfield] You think for most people garments eclipse meaning?
Raf Simons: I think lots of people just grab whatever they can, simply because it is beautiful. And I think that is where fashion became a very different thing in the last decade. You take a bag from this brand, shoes from that one, a coat from another. When I was growing up, I always liked the fact that in fashion there was this idea of the Margiela woman, or the Dries Van Noten woman, or the Yohji Yamamoto woman or the Helmut Lang woman, or the Prada woman, or Prada man. It was based on mindset and culture.
I don’t know what you think about what Mr. Simons said, I don’t know if I totally agree with him or not, but I know for sure that one of the most asked questions is: “How do I find my fashion identity?”. May this January 2024 Men Fashion Week help you clear your mind thanks to all so different yet so beautiful brand identities!
The old schools
First, Gucci. Sabato De Sarno’s first menswear collection opened the dances for this Milan Men Fashion Week. People had criticized him for womenswear in September but, instead of letting the critics put him down, De Sarno challenged them: this is my way of doing fashion, so deal with it! The art of tailoring, attention to details, such as unique neckties and embroidered shiny collars, on simple silhouettes that follow the body’s movement, a few edgy shoulders and platforms, a new subtle monogram, and a cerulean blue coat to die for!
With the same coat that opened womenswear collection, the same soundtrack, the same “black box” as the stage, De Sarno challenged the traditional way of thinking about genders on the runways: the two Gucci shows, women’s and men’s, were the dream of those who like a couple matchy-matchy style, with the same lines, colors, even a few of the same pieces, or maybe an invitation to break the distinctions of a different wardrobe for every gender, and creating a new, only-one aesthetic for his new Gucci’s man and woman. Sure it is all really different from Alessandro Michele’s geek chic works of art, but Sabato we believe in your twist of sobriety, sophisticated and sensual!
Then it was the turn of Re Giorgio. As Armani himself said, what he looks for in his collections is “presenting the usual [every time in] an unusual way” and he did it again. His attention to materials and shapes is always there, the neutral colors palette that never goes out of style too, this time in variazione sul tema of long double-breasted coats, little hats, fluid pants, from denim to cotton, leather jackets and the beautiful suits that always with different embroideries and shapes between east and west. Uomini di mare, aviators, lovers of Neve and gentlemen in vintage sunglasses, all of these personalities merging in the Emporio Armani collection.
Three days later was the time of “The Look”, Giorgio Armani collection: peering through the spyhole of his house, Armani looked at his guests, “Pay attention to what you see, these is my heart poured out in clothes so please pay some respect” he seemed to imply, while they saw gentlemen of all sorts, playing with shapes and materials, going down the runway.
Then, on Sunday 14th, my favorite, Signora Miuccia Prada, forever devoted to subtle playfulness and ugly-chic details, creating once again, along with Raf Simons, a brilliant collection to watch. Above a glass that covered a nature field, a dystopian detail that sure did not go unnoticed, models wore common office suits paired with unexpected pop-color bonnets, fishbones as belts, long coats and leather sandals that look like the plastic ones kids wear at the beach to play: in front of the computer screen in his office, the Prada man dreams of the sea, long walks by the shore and maybe a little swim, no matter the season!
The new ones to keep an eye on
Kuwata Satoshi, winner of LVMH PRICE 2023 for young designers, described as capable of “the art of transforming formal wear”, along with bringing together old traditional clothes with modern innovation. He sure understood the assignment of the return to high fashion, from the elegant lines to the research of fabrics. When asked “[Why] Milan?” he replied:
“I chose Milan because it can be a place of craftsmanship and this is something I am passionate about. Here, I work next door to the people stitching our clothes. We also have the opportunity to manufacture our own textiles. I can design from yarn to finished garments.”
He brings together Japan, his native country, and Italy, both countries whose fashion culture is deep. The name of his brand says it all, as written on the website: Setchu, which comes from the Japanese phrase “wayo setchu”. “Wayo” refers to Japan and the West, and “Setchu” means compromise. Hence, the brand encapsulates the fusion of two distinct cultures, creating a sense of newness from the familiar. Kuwata has travelled the world and from every trip he learned something about fashion.
Taking inspiration from the simplest things - this year was a piece of crumpled paper – Kuwata has a deep appreciation for i tessuti and attention to shapes, both things important in Japanese, taking inspirations from traditional clothes, and Italian fashion: origami blazers, paper again coming handy as a guide, washable at home cashmere, a thermoregulated lightweight denim straight from Hokkaido, drapes and pleats that remind of ancient Greece statues.
Another brand to start following is the Korean ADSB ANDERSSON BELL, again focused on the meeting of different cultures in clothes. For this season, creative director Kim Dohun decided to make Kwon Ki-Ok, first woman to be an aviator in South Korea, his muse: military colors and textiles met new shapes, with cropped jackets, utility corsets over dresses, cut cargo pants all paired with pearls and chains.
Last but not least, our beloved Pitti Peacocks with their preppy, English college boys’ style: sartorial coats, Magliano’s (LVMH 2023 Karl Lagerfeld prize winner and young designer from Bologna, who defines his pieces “fucked up classics” on the brand Instagram bio) soft knitwear, cozy cashmere clothes by Cruciani for the settimana bianca, S. S. Daley’s soft boys with pastel sweaters and Oxford shoes, of which Harry Styles is a big fan of , but also jeans (shown in their history and sustainability thanks to Guess Jeans).
It was an edition for young designers, where innovation, culture (Daley’s inspiration for the collection was E.M. Foster’s novella “The story of a panic”) and fashion met exquisitely!
Cover credits: @magliano.insta