Get used to grey - it was impossible to avoid on the catwalks. A light dove hue was big news for spring 07, but the autumn shows presented darker elephant, slate, charcoal and steel tones on outerwear, knits and, most notably, tailoring. Mismatched shades added texture to the monochrome theme as layering emerged as a key tactic at Etro and DKNY, in response to the predictably changeable weather. Slimmer proportions were favoured in Milan by Alexander McQueen and D&G, among others, while Bottega Veneta's body-conscious shapes ushered in a more commercial db silhouette.
If just one key item emerged from this season's catwalks, this was it. Long-line knits featured at a huge number of shows and equally populated Milan, Paris and New York. Following the fine-gauge button cardigans that have become so commercial, and so affordable on the high street, these chunky versions injected more luxurious fabrics and hard-to-imitate technical design details. Examples at Burberry Prorsum, Paul & Joe and Iceberg offered deep, complicated cables, while more subtle versions were used at Number Nine and Perry Ellis. Check out the versatility of this style: not only does it work as a transitional look in lieu of heavy outerwear, but is equally at home in formal styles, a la Bottega Veneta, and casual, as at Rykiel Homme.
Futuristic-looking, shiny technical fabrics were used to add lustre and wet looks to the season's muted palette. Designers have been dabbling increasingly with the hi-tech allure of technical materials on outerwear, but the autumn 07 shows saw a more luxurious ethic mixed with silver. Quilting came in diamond and other geometric shapes to add surface interest at Dior Homme, Dolce & Gabbana and John Richmond. Other design details to find favour were colour contrast piping at Kris Van Assche and biker-influenced buckling at Louis Vuitton, while parkas were reworked to add a 1960s retro alternative to the futuristic styles.
Taking its cue from womenswear, men's casual and outerwear silhouettes for autumn 07 played with cocooning and swaddling top halves. Wide truncated capes at Armand Basi and Missoni in Milan provided the most extreme versions of the silhouette, with both also serving up slim-line legs to accentuate the contrast. Oversized knits at Prada, Vivienne Westwood and J Lindeberg - again all in Milan - offered diluted versions on thick, textured long-line knits. Fendi's outerwear was clean and wide, while Yohji Yamamoto's oversized proportions made winter white look cosy. This is not an obvious commercial trend for menswear, but the contrasting halves are a possible alternative to the ubiquitous slim shapes.
Merging casual and formal looks has been going on for some seasons in menswear, and for autumn 07 a favourite trick among designers was to team tailoring with roll-neck knits. With simplicity so in vogue, this 1960s-inspired style diktat was key for Raf Simons and Valentino. In New York, John Bartlett and John Varvatos bought into the turtle-neck look, with the latter giving it a masculine spin under a reworked duffel and trilby. The roll neck consistently delivers a sophisticated and suave ethos, of which Gucci provided the best example.
Military looks are constantly reworked on menswear, and this season a luxe feel ensured that the catwalks were as much about the parade ground as the battlefield. Soft-but-heavy wool came in black, blue and grey shades, with lines often as streamlined as the palette, as seen at Costume National Homme and Roberto Cavalli in Milan. Paul Smith's Paris show led the way with nautical references and brass-buttoned db outerwear, while back in Milan Trussardi belted a naval reefer. High-buttoned uniform-style jackets took on a slim silhouette at Christopher Bailey's Milan show for Burberry Prorsum and Belstaff.