A lot of things happened this past couple of weeks at the Milan and Paris fashion weeks serving FW17 menswear fashion. A lot. We picked some of the highlights from the two cities for your fashion consumption. Be warned though; this is quite a long read.

The debuts

Due to the many entries and exits the fashion industry experienced in 2016, this year’s Men’s FW17 Fashion Weeks had many anticipating the new beginnings of many storied brands. And most, if not all, were generally well-received.

Ermenegildo Zegna Couture FW17

Alessandro Sartori opened the Paris shows with a dynamic Ermenegildo Zegna Couture collection blending sportswear elements with soft tailoring. Set within Anselm Kiefer’s The Seven Heavenly Palaces installation, Sartori challenged traditional construction with an inside-out approach to tailoring. He also made full use of Zegna’s mastery with fabric innovation, resulting in paper-thin leather outerwear and lightweight Casentino suiting.

At Berluti, it was a pared down signature Haider Ackermann combined with the house’s craftsmanship. Trousers were cuffed and cropped to well-above the ankle and topped off with pointed footwear. The colours and fabrics chosen spelled Ackermann all over – satin-sheened suits and velvet outerwear in deep reds and greens – with off-kilter effortlessness.

Salvatore Ferragamo FW17

Guillaume Meilland, the new men’s design director at Salvatore Ferragamo, stripped the Italian fashion house back to its core basics for his debut. There was none of the amped-up youthful energy that was apparent in previous collections. Instead, the focus was on fit and construction with infusions of modern sportswear elements. The opening look featured a suit with a slightly shortened blazer on top of a polo-inspired shirt. The collection was not outrageously different but stayed respectful of Salvatore Ferragamo’s codes.

Valentino FW17

While not technically a debut, it was Pierpaolo Piccioli’s first solo run at a menswear collection for Valentino since his design partner left for Christian Dior. The collection lends a British air with a focus on outerwear (no two outerwear were the same) with models sporting caps and sneakers unique to each. Graphic designer Jamie Reid (known to have worked with the Sex Pistols) helped to further emphasise on the theme of individual expression with two slogans emblazoned on the caps and the backs of some of the coats – “Beauty is a birthright, reclaim your heritage” and “It seemed to be the end, until the next beginning.”

The potentially most-coveted

It was just a few days after the New Year that a colleague sent a link to our shared group chat on Whatsapp. It was a rumour that Supreme and Louis Vuitton are working on a collaboration. We immediately slammed it, thinking it was never going to happen. We were obviously wrong.

Cut to the second day of the Paris shows, it seemed almost unbelievable. This was the same brand that Louis Vuitton sued for incorporating its trademark monogram pattern on skate decks back in 2000. And now, the Supreme logo was loud and proud on leather bags and accessories, as well as creeping into the previously holy monogram on ready-to-wear.

Louis Vuitton X Supreme

The reaction was mixed. Some called out both brands for selling out, while others seem to welcome the surprise with open arms. What’s definitely certain (judging by the reception on social media), this is a win for Louis Vuitton.

The dramatic

Thom Browne is known to pull out all the stops for his fashion shows. This time around, it was an epic show of construction and proportion. Designed to show the intense work behind tailoring, the show was more of an installation of sorts. Models marched slowly in grey throughout the show, paced by those in the first section of the show. Dressed in bodysuits fitted with buttons, they were outfitted with mules that resembled oversized hooves; obviously made walking a task.

The second section featured flat patterns sewn together to create a 2D version of a suit and then ended with the “completed” garments in the third section. It made more sense when the three different sections walked in groups during the finale in a death march fashion.

The Blue Steel

Well, it was only the first look by Fendi that prompted the comparison to Derek Zoolander’s signature move. The blue tracksuit under a leopard print fur coat and the headband were unmistakably Zoolander. But there was no intentional reference; it just a coincidence, perhaps.

Fendi FW17

The FW17 collection took inspiration from the sportswear era of the 80s and 90s. Multi-coloured ski jumpers, mitts and beanies aplenty, these were worn with technical down jackets and more tailored garments with contrast stitching.

Fendi has been injecting quirky elements for the past collections and this time, they came in the form of one-word slogans. Some were intentionally obvious – “YELLOW” on yellow fur slides and the occasional “FENDI” branding. While others seemed to be encouraging and optimistic with words like “TRY”, “FAST” and “BLISS”. We could do with some optimism right about now.

The back-to-basics

Among the throng of brands aiming for the exaggerated and extravagant displays of show and silhouettes, some stripped back to the bare essentials to focus on what wearable fashion should be. At Lanvin, Lucas Ossendrijver seemed to the focus on branding by branding them with the word “NOTHING”. Cropped knits worn over checked shirts, reverse layering and elongated sleeves signal for a less conventional take on menswear.

Hermès FW17

Similarly at Hermès and Prada, the differences were subtle. Narrower bottoms, slightly bigger shoulders and nondescript clothes with minimal details – Normcore seems to be quite a trend for FW17.

The co-eds

Paul Smith FW17

We’re seeing more brands opting to show both menswear and womenswear at the same time. It’s definitely cost-effective and especially if the themes are overarching across both collections, integration is the way to go.

And if the brand is already established like Paul Smith, DSquared2 and Kenzo, with an easily recognisable aesthetic, the transition is seamless and makes perfect sense. The cohesiveness serves in the brand’s favour and further emphasizes the identity.

The suit makeovers

Dior Homme FW17

There has always been a need to rethink the suit, especially when younger generations tend to relegate suits to corporate- and event-only attire. Kris Van Assche describes his revamped take on men’s suiting as HarDior – “hard-core” meets “Dior”. The result is an energetic collection of suiting paired with rave-like elements inspired by gabber and candy boys. Broken three-piece suits consisting of a suit, shirt and a tank top worn over as well as knitwear completely layered over a suit; clever and practical.

Demna Gvasalia’s penchant for exaggerated shoulders at Balenciaga made for an impactful debut last season. He continues the silhouette for FW17 albeit with more restrain. Slightly large shouldered blazers over unbuttoned shirts were paired with skinny suit trousers worn dangerously close to the pubic area. When they were more conservative, the trousers were more relaxed but always worn with sneakers.

The socials

The list of names gracing Dolce&Gabbana’s FW17 show is more familiar than usual. Almost entirely walked by Instagram models and social influencers (Pelayo Diaz, Rafferty Law, Neels Visser etc.), the show adopted Victoria’s Secret-like format by having Austin Mahone performing along the runway while interacting with the “models”. Cameron Dallas, who has been a common fixture during fashion weeks for a few seasons now, opened and closed the #DGPrinces show. The times, they are a changin’.

The individual

Loewe FW17

Since helming the creative direction at Loewe, Jonathan Anderson has successfully created signature pieces that the brand is now known for. The fisherman trousers, the asymmetric shirt and the myriad of bag styles that he initiated are once again incorporated into the FW17 collection.

A leather apron worn over an asymmetric shirt and a pair of completely blue fisherman trousers, demonstrate how the pieces are reworked to suit the theme. The best representation of the collection and the mastery of Loewe’s craftsmanship is the all-black leather ensemble; youthful and post-industrial.  

The missing

There were some major brands missing from the line-up at the Milan and Paris shows. Raf Simons’ debut for Calvin Klein will be shown during New York Fashion Week on 10 February, featuring both menswear and womenswear while his eponymous label will show menswear on 1 February during Men’s New York Fashion Week.

Both Kering-owned houses Gucci and Bottega Veneta have announced in 2016 that their menswear and womenswear collections will be integrated as of 2017. Hence, the collections will be expected to be unveiled this February during the traditionally women’s-only fashion weeks.

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