Last day at Milan Menswear: JW Anderson, K-Way, 44 Label Group and Jet Set
One can never fault the Milanese for lacking energy. Italy might be engulfed in a political sudden crisis, after 80-year-old President Sergio Mattarella announced he would not renew his six-year mandate, due to end in two weeks in Rome. But up north in Milan, the capital of Italian fashion still made an impressive fist of its four-day menswear season.
“It was a moment to remind everyone that we have a major fashion industry in Italy. It employs around 1.2 million people, and it was important for our brands and our houses to show the world what they have been creating,” insisted Carlo Capasa, president of the Camera della Moda, Italian fashion’s governing body.
Shows were limited in size, and Asian and Russian buyers generally absent but there were plenty of fresh ideas from young designers and revived historic labels. To enter any show, presentation or event, all guests had to show proof of vaccination, a Green Pass, and get their body temperature checked often.
“It was essential that fashion showed it respected the general population’s concern about the pandemic. And that we scrupulously respect the rules and didn’t expect any privileges, unlike certain stars in other industries,” insisted Capasa.
So, we visited four marques in the final 24 hours to take the fashion temperature.
Gentle gender-bending and witty iconoclasm in JW Anderson’s latest collection presented in a show video shot inside a red-walled nightclub.
From denim shirt dresses, to dramatic cutaway shearling coat dresses worn with socks and loafers – both worn on guys with shorn heads. Most tellingly, a white logo aertex cut as a mini cocktail that stood off the torso thanks to interior tube trim. Again, worn on a dude.
“Parties that never happened, parties that will happen. Precious moments of happiness collide in a frivolous fantasy of unbridled fun. The FW22 collection celebrates dressing as an exuberant act that crosses the barriers of gender and taste,” read the cryptic comment by the Northern Irish designer that accompanied the digital presentation.
Due to changing sanitary regulations, Anderson was forced to call off a planned runway show in this weekend’s menswear week, denying the season its most anticipated catwalk event. A double pity seeing as this was another powerful collection from the leading cool conceptualist in contemporary fashion.
Though staged during the menswear season, there were over a dozen female Anderson looks on display, many of them echoing the men’s ideas.
Like a striking and faintly askew tobacco-hued shearling double-breasted coat, worn by a guy with socks and beach sandals, and by a gal with beige boots.
Trance techno music as the cast marched down a stairway and along a narrow metal aisle. Boys trotting along in lots of metallic hued shorts – yes, for winter. All gold lame aertex and matching shorts worn by another youth who carried a stuffed pigeon. It turned out to be a tiny clutch.
Best of all, young ladies in excellent asymmetrical dresses bearing foot-sized green eyes. Once on a white dress, then on a turquoise version. Ever a skilled bag maker, Anderson also showed a new studded flat bag for boys, and a teddy bear-shaped man bag, all sure to find fans.
Some worn with his other big ideas – androgynous Silver Surfers, with guys and gals in shiny silver jumpsuits and leggings. Hoop dresses for gents and ladies, all standing stiffly off the body; and even what Anderson christened a Polo Hula Hoop.
K-Way keeps coming on strong. The brand has staged intermittent runway shows in the past few years and this was their best to date.
Plus, in keeping with a massive harlequin trend here in Milan, the key element in the collection was the many lozenge patterns. Seen in high-color puffers and down coats in shades of canary yellow; House of Orange orange and Pacific blue. Exactly the same colors used in the boxes on which an audience of 250 were perched inside the show-space in the southern Scalo di Porta Romana district.
The same pattern and colors used in felt backpacks and the trim of faded wool duffle coats. Beside their sporty logo, the house smartly added great orange and yellow trim to all their zips, in a cool usage of a visual signifier. Semiotic sporty chic at its simplest and best.
All guests were given tightly packed raincoats, again with nylon straps in the same orange and yellow. Italian product placement for editors, buyer and influencers.
All the down and puffers paired with pebbly-colored knits used in tight tanks, elongated leggings, hefty beanies and drawstring pants. For a look that was après-ski funky meets winter-festival cool. In a word, K-Way has cut out a clever niche in Italian fashion and hipster style.
44 LABEL GROUP
A bustling techno video announced the first “catwalk” display of 44 Label Group, the latest project backed by Italian fashion entrepreneur Claudio Antonioli.
The brainchild of German DJ Kobosil, 44 Label Group is a dark collection, ideal for winter clubbing in Berlin, and particularly Berghain, the legendary Berlin club and a capital of Mitteleuropean techno, where Kobosil waxes the stacks frequently.
Born and raised in the tough Neukolln neighborhood, whose postcode provides the label’s name, Kobosil wasn’t an academic star at school. Hence, all the sweatshirts reading Screwed Up, and T-shirts with skeleton hands made of screws.
Though the key element in this second 44 Label Group collection is the clubbing puffers, some made in heat-sensitive nylon that when you grab it turns briefly into an eerie white. Very much tough fashion, the collection is devoid of all leather, with bomber jackets made in eco-friendlier materials.
For Antonioli, one of the founders of New Guards, and who exited that success story with several hundred million euros, 44 Group Label represents a significant new project, and the latest game plan in his holding company Dreamers Factory. His next move: a second show in Paris in March from his rock couture label, Ann Demeulemeester. He is a busy man is Claudio, as is Kobosil.
Even if the name Jet Set evokes the 1960s, the brand seems increasingly relevant thanks to some careful tweaking and smart dives into the archives.
Based in a jet-set location par excellence, St Moritz, Jet Set was busy in Milan this weekend, displaying it latest ideas. And in a logical location – Palazzo Parigi, the grandest of Milan’s recent five-star hotel openings.
“We’ve gone back to our smart and stylish roots, but with a style perfect for today,” explained Thomas Jaeger, who was appointed CEO just nine months ago.
Privately held, Jet Set doesn’t reveal annual revenues, but Jaeger insists that turnover will double this year.
Featuring multiple star motifs from the '60s, when the marque was born, Jet Set showed great sleek active skiwear, racing pants and taut parkas. Then remade the same looks in light stretch materials for après ski and cocktail hour. Though the fall-winter 2022 collection includes plenty of downhill racing gear, it also has plenty of clobber for cool Alpine clubbing.
After a quiet few years of no growth, Jet Set is a brand on the rebound, and busy working with e-commerce businesses like MyTheresa, where its kicky metallic parkas are all the rage.
“We believe that more and more people will vacation in the Alps in the future. Due to environmental concerns, long-distance will be less common. And people will want to enjoy the beautiful nature in the mountains. Jet Set has the right clothes to appreciate the Alps,” stressed Jaeger, an experienced fashion executive who spent 15 years at Strellson, before ending up in the Swiss Alps.
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