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Menswear Designer Directions - Male order

From shiny suits and wet-look nylons to looser tailoring and earthy neutrals, we distil the essential trends from the spring 08 catwalks in Paris and Milan


Lightweight nylons and coated plastics brought a futuristic look to the spring 08 catwalks, with cocooning anorak shapes offering a new silhouette. Raf Simons underlined the relevance of the slimline windcheater, also seen at Daks, Ute Ploier and Dries Van Noten, with more relaxed versions presented at Alexander McQueen. Shiny plastics and coated fabrics were an essential part of the monochrome palette, from black bombers at Neil Barrett to lightweight white jackets at Jil Sander. The sci-fi feel was accentuated in Paris by intense bright colours, with Raf Simons the key proponent.


An exaggerated preppy look infiltrated a raft of collections in both Paris and Milan. The quirky personality was exemplified by brightly coloured plaids at Comme des Garaons and the mismatched checks and stripes of Bottega Veneta, offering collegiate styling but with the volume turned up. This reached its peak in quirky Pee-Wee Herman references at Moschino and Junya Watanabe, where the silhouette shrunk to geek-tight proportions. Beyond this revenge of the nerds, a parallel marina trend emerged that was refined and sexy, with Paul Smith's show straddling both ends of this preppy spectrum.


Alongside the looser new silhouettes, colour - particularly earthy neutrals - provided a key spring 08 direction. For reference, think spicy shades, alongside stone and putty tipping into sludgy tones. Jil Sander's saffron and cumin palette was mirrored elsewhere by volcanic and geological shades. These were also on the agenda at Daks, Louis Vuitton, and Bottega Veneta, while Alexander McQueen opted for the softer side of the spectrum. While sophisticated and fresh looking, these spicier colours may not translate commercially in the UK, where skin tones are less naturally sun-kissed. But the season's more contemporary reworkings of dove grey into a putty shade should ignite interest from UK buyers.


The flat-fronted raincoat looks set to be the perfect outerwear option for the unpredictable spring weather. The variety of applications included treated cotton and plastic styles from Dries Van Noten, Marni and Belstaff.


Biker jackets were much in evidence, in both trademark black leather and hi-gloss versions. Interpretations of the classic Irving Schott-designed Perfecto style, as worn by Marlon Brando in The Wild One, dominated at Gucci, Versace, Cerruti and Neil Barrett. The biker shed its rebellious roots when teamed with a shirt and tie at both Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo.


Continuing as a key influence, eveningwear details infiltrated both lounge tailoring as well as streetwear. Gucci, Emanuel Ungaro, Dolce & Gabbana, Daks and John Galliano were among those who deployed shawl collars and low-slung waist- coats in their collections.


The military look smartens up for spring with parade kit regimental styles leading the charge. Burberry Prorsum went for Napoleonic-style regalia and Daks for the Crimea. Field coats informed outerwear for Emporio Armani, while Jean Paul Gaultier also signed up to the trend.

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