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Milan

Colour and fabric trends outshone silhouettes as the key differentiator for spring 08 designer menswear

Menswear buyers hunting for fresh directions last week in Milan were forced to look at colour and fabric, rather than silhouettes, for inspiration. With designers turning to tried-and-tested trend stories - from checks, sportswear and eveningwear details, to biker jackets, plain-front raincoats and the surf scene - newness came through a palette of understated neutrals, geological colours, cobalt and aqua blues, technical fabrics, and shiny surfaces.

Burberry Prorsum's dramatic use of primary red, turquoise and gold was by no means symptomatic of the zeitgeist, although the Brit label's use of neoprene, with its echoes of ocean sports, was a common trend. Alessandro Dell'Acqua also used the scuba fabric, while Alexander McQueen and Emporio Armani referenced the diving and surf scene.

Technical fabrics, commonly associated with outdoor performance sports, were also a key driver in Milan. Most brands used the fabrics in semi-futuristic silhouettes. There were fitted hoodies at Dolce & Gabbana, wet-look parkas at Alexander McQueen, zip-through short-sleeved shirts at Bottega Veneta, and liquid-finish fitted track tops with pleated pants at Fendi.

The wet look coming through on sports-inspired casuals was reflected in tailoring, where silks and silk mixes deployed on skinny mod silhouettes created shiny surfaces - it was easier to count the collections that did not include shiny ratpack suits than those that did. Among the key proponents were Alessandro Dell'Acqua and its peaked-lapelled single-button styles, Vivienne Westwood with its grey 2sb suits, Versace's single-button double-breasted block with notch lapels, and a double-breasted two-buttoned black version from Daks.

While grey outstayed its welcome for a fourth season, the defining spring 08 palette was a sophisticated, if challenging, assortment of pale and thin tones, geological colours, spices and sun-bleached earth shades. Limestone and slate featured alongside sand, evergreen, beech, cumin and saffron. This clean, modernist selection was punctuated by primary blues, soft pinks and buttercup yellow.

One of the widest-sweeping trends, with commercial opportunities for mainstream brands as well as the high street, was the eveningwear story. Again, most designers had a stab, with interpretations of the classic shawl collar, contrast piping and satin lapels from Daks, Dries Van Noten, DSquared, Costume National and Gucci, among others.

Burberry Prorsum

KEY LOOK: A body-conscious mini trench in saturated shades of red or turquoise

TARGET MARKET: Bright colours nodded to the nu-rave scene reflecting a younger perspective, while regimental references and the gold story targeted a luxury shopper

SILHOUETTE: Lightweight, fitted outerwear sat next to softly padded coats, skinny tailoring and flat-front trousers cut low at the crotch

FABRIC: Sharkskin-look silks, neoprenes and technical nylons as well as traditional fabrics

COLOURs: Pillar-box red, apple green, cobalt blue, turquoise, canary yellow, grey, lipstick pink and gold dominated the Burberry palette

Alexander McQueen

KEY LOOK: Boxy 1980s-inspired suit jackets with slim-fit flood-length trousers

TARGET MARKET: The modern interpretations of 1980s bratpack looks fused Ivy League with California surf bums, with a dash of David Byrne

SILHOUETTE: Plain-front raincoats, boxy db jackets, unstructured tailoring, slouchy knits and baseball jackets were key looks

FABRIC: McQueen favoured cotton knits, technical nylons and semi-sheer cotton jerseys

COLOURS: Pink, canary yellow, grey and beige were offset against monochrome photo prints

D&G

KEY LOOK: D&G combined eveningwear-inspired mod-cut tailoring with biker pants

TARGET MARKET: Glam biker styles, mod suits, washed-out regimental jackets and zip-front utility pants will be tempting for fashion-hungry sub-30-year-old customers

SILHOUETTE: Super-slim tailoring, narrow biker jackets with structured shoulders, slim jeans and knee-length skinny shorts all proved popular

FABRIC: Fake leathers, laundered cottons, and plenty of satin-trimmed lapels on tailoring

COLOURS: Black, washed-out earthy neutrals, plus bronze and monochromatic newspaper prints led the way for D&G

DSquared

KEY LOOK: Motor-racing casuals steered DSquared's collection, with pastel Harrington jackets at the fore

TARGET MARKET: This was London-centric, Steve McQueen-inspired streetwear with designer credentials

SILHOUETTE: A broad sweep of looks included ankle-length trousers, logo sweats and multi-pocket utility-style leather bombers

FABRIC: Badge appliques on jeans, treated cottons and leather jackets led the way

COLOURS: Powder pink, washed-out indigo, red and blue racer stripes, canary yellow, walnut and lilac were key colours.

Daks

KEY LOOK: Slim-fit double-breasted tailored jackets were paired with contrasting shorts

TARGET MARKET: Understated luxury underpinned this clean and contemporary collection, aimed at 30-plus consumers

SILHOUETTE: Narrow 2sb tailoring with angular coat edges contrasted with clean-fronted mini raincoats, leather mini trench coats and shawl-collared evening styles

FABRIC: Silk and cashmere knits, sharkskin silk suits, nylon and lightweight butter-soft leather all made an appearance

COLOURs: Grey and pearl were paired with champagne, tan, and micro floral prints

Prada

KEY LOOK: A fitted single-button grey suit with shawl collar led the collection

TARGET MARKET: Squarely aimed at detail-obsessed Prada aficionados for whom subtle silhouettes come before sweeping trends

SILHOUETTE: Shapes were narrow without looking restrictive, alongside sheer knits, plain-front raincoats and trousers with a low crotch

FABRIC: The collection offered plenty of gauges of fine knits and silks with a sheen, alongside superfine tailoring wools

COLOURs: A claustrophobic palette mixed inky blue, burgundy and evergreen with moody charcoal and black

Neil Barrett

KEY LOOK: Biker jackets and ankle-baring trousers were the main silhouettes

TARGET MARKET: Barrett's streetwear handwriting was underpinned by sexy tailoring and form-fitting trouser shapes

SILHOUETTE: Two- and three-button tailored jackets and waistcoats were worn with narrow trousers with zip pockets on the thigh, shiny tailored shorts and fitted biker jackets

FABRIC: A scattering of sheer cobweb knits sat alongside laundered leathers and cotton tailoring

COLOURs: Monochrome, sand, stone and dusty brown provided the backdrop

Jil Sander

KEY LOOK: Two, three, and four-button mod suits were presented in a sludgy palette

TARGET MARKET: The stripped-down Euro-preppy aesthetic offered references to retro mods, pitched perfectly for fans of Jil Sander and creative director Raf Simons

SILHOUETTE: Short-cut tailoring, shirt jackets, plain-front raincoats, and elongated T-shirts made their mark

FABRIC: The collection was mainly comprised of cottons, with treated and sheer cotton punctuated by nylon sportswear

COLOURs: Chalky shades of grey and powder blue sat alongside spicy cumin and saffron

Bottega Veneta

KEY LOOK: A three-piece fitted db suit in fool's gold referenced the metallics trend

TARGET MARKET: The brand concentrated on soft shapes and a sophisticated palette aimed at label junkies for whom cost is no barrier

SILHOUETTE: Washed leather trenches, peaked-lapel tailoring, pagoda-shouldered three-piece suits, utility blousons and db waistcoats were the order of the day

FABRIC: Linen mixes sat alongside crumpled cottons in super lightweight weaves

COLOURs: The palette featured pale tones of ash, elderflower, sand and salmon pink, with a few madras checks and a splash of cobalt blue

Dries Van Noten

KEY LOOK: A slouchy double-breasted jacket with ankle-length linen trousers led the way

TARGET MARKET: Directional customers looking for colour and an elongated silhouette

SILHOUETTE: Shapes focused on slouchy tapered trousers, soft-shouldered narrow tailoring and plain-front raincoats alongside cropped kimono shirts and longer-line double-breasted jacket shapes

FABRIC: Raw silk was teamed with technical nylons, linen mixes and lace

COLOURs: Grey, gun blue, pink and salmon shades were punctuated by cobalt blue, shocking pink, bright orange and metallics

Gucci

KEY LOOK: The show was anchored by madras checks, high-fastening two-button tailoring

TARGET MARKET: A younger focus at Gucci found creative director Frida Gianni seeking inspiration from Italian heart-throbs from the 1950s silver screen

SILHOUETTE: Single-breasted suits were cut short with slim trousers, while 1950s-style polo shirts and biker jackets were paired with baseball blousons

FABRIC: Silk tailoring, leather, coated cottons and super-fine knits were key

COLOURs: Focused on white, grey, madras checks, red, green and buttercup yellow

Fendi

KEY LOOK: A 1980s-inspired stud-fastening top with roll collar provided direction

TARGET MARKET: Fendi took a casual approach to formalwear, with 1980s sportswear looks aimed at an uber trend-savvy clientele

SILHOUETTE: The clean and contemporary theme featured shawl-collared jackets, fitted track tops, unstructured tailoring, narrow trousers and baggy knee-length shorts

FABRIC: Lightweight shirt cottons were used for tailoring, alongside liquid-look Lurex nylon and metallic-finished cottons

COLOURs: White, grey, peppermint, stone and washed-out desert tones.

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