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Culture

Dressing Men in Style at Milan's Fashion Show

After last year’s back to basics trend in fashion, men will be looking for something a little more extravagant this year.

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Combining grunge and glamour is in this fall.

Taking their cue from colorful folkloric mixes and styles of the past, designers of men’s fashion are presenting a fresh, upbeat look at this week’s Milan Fashion Show. Held from January 13 through 17, the show highlights the new winter collections from some of the biggest names in men’s ready wear clothing.

Armani, Versace, and Valentio are presenting their newest looks. So are Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, and Ralph Lauren. Dolce and Gabbana came out with their latest collection, as did Issey Miyake and Gucci.

The list of designers reads like a who’s who of men’s wear. But that’s not really surprising considering Milan is the only viable men’s fashion show. Whereas women’s designers split their time between Milan, Paris, London and New York, the whole world of men’s fashion flocks to Milan. So if you cater to making clothes for half of the population, then Milan is the place to be.

Glamour

The look on the catwalk this year is glamour, extravagance and eroticism.

If the designer’s have forecast the trend correctly, men, like women, will be turning away from the ordinary and neutral when it comes to their winter clothing styles. Gone are the basic black, navy blue and gray business suits. Color and drama have come back into the wardrobe.

For the men who like to dress in only the best, Valentino has created a collection inspired by the frills and colors of gypsies, and infused it with the most luxurious materials for a style worthy of a modern urban gentleman.

"It’s all about having fun -- taking well-respected pieces and then having the intelligence to mix them and transport them to different situations," Valentino told reporters backstage after the show.

One of the "respected" pieces that keeps turning up in his collection is a pashmina shawl. Long a luxurious accessory in women’s wardrobes, Valentino takes the ultra-soft scarf, adds silver and gold studs and ties it around the waist of business suits, gypsy style.

For more formal wear, men can drape the shawl diagonally across the chest under a jacket for an alternative three-piece suit look or tuck it down the sleeves of a coat, so the tassled ends fray out at the wrist.

Naomi Campbell auf der Herrenmodemesse in Mailand.jpg

Erotic

The brazen duo of Dolce and Gabbana played with androgynous looks this week when they dressed supermodels Naomi Cambell (photo) and Eva Herzegova in their men’s collection.

"We’ve always liked women in men’s clothing. It’s very sexy," Domenico Gabba said after sending her models out onto the catwalk.

And with the designers’ see-through chiffon shirts paired with low-slung trousers and swinging coats, both men and women have a chance to show off their firmly-toned physique.

The colors are subdued, the lines are laidback and comfortable. The collection is a far-cry from D&G’s previous men’s wear designs, but it’s anything but classic male business suit.

A rainbow of color

For men tired of traditionally drab business suits, Issey Miyake has the answer: fluorescent and day-glow color packets.

Grass green, turquoise and orange arranged in candy stripes or geometric blocks is the look from the ever-adventurous Japanese designer.

And if the shades are too much color, Miyake has a more sedated line of donkey jackets in graded blue denim or heavy black wool.

The suit-wearer can also exchange a double breasted for a more oriental look with round-collared jackets with two lines of buttons down the front or boxy tuxedos trimmed with wide bands of velvet.

Herrenmodemesse in Mailand

White

Colors abound at the Fashion Show, but so does the color white.

Just when the world seems sunk in gloom and despair, fashion designers are parading the color of hope and peace.

White is this year’s new "black". Everything seems to go with it; it’s an elegant yet understated color, and it pops up in all sorts of arrangements from shirts to pants, to coats and dresses for women. And the white suit á la Mark Twain and John Travolta is making a remarkable comeback on the men’s fashion circuit.

Trend-watchers say the white suit is becoming a unique alternative to the heavier dark suits of the past. It’s silhouette appears lighter, more comfortable and somehow irreverent. It’s the perfect pick-me up for a light-hearted evening affair.

As to why designers have suddenly rediscovered this color, fashion historians point to famous white-suit wearers of the past such as John Lennon in his video "Imagine", in which the color white symbolizes innocence and optimism.

American novelist Mark Twain probably summed up the fashion sentiment most succinctly when he was asked why he chose to wear white flannel suits in winter: "What can be more depressing than the somber black which custom requires men to wear – a group of men in evening clothes looks like a flock of crows, and is just as inspiring."

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