MILAN — Milan Men’s Fashion Week starts Friday and while there are only a few physical shows, there is still plenty of action. Here, WWD previews some of the projects and brands that will be digitally unveiled during the five-day event.
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After studying fashion in Spain, Espadas quickly became passionate about the technical construction of garments, their 3D appeal and the sartorial cuts of men’s wear. She worked for brands in Barcelona and Copenhagen before deciding to go back to school.
“I would have never imagined returning to study at that point, but a friend told me about this MA in men’s wear at the Royal College of Art so I decided to apply — and they admitted me,” said Espadas. “That was actually a turning point in my life, because it has been such a rewarding experience since I had the chance to meet so many interesting people and creatively collaborate with them.”
During her second year, the designer presented a collection that was noticed by Japanese fashion agents, who contacted her. “I started seeing the interest of these people, I couldn’t understand what was going on and then they wanted to meet me and they are now my agents for Japan,” said Espadas, who launched her namesake brand in 2019.
This season will mark the designer’s third collection and she will make her debut at Milan Men’s Fashion Week with a virtual showcase on June 18, when she will digitally present her spring 2022 effort through a video and a series of images.
Focused on delivering seasonless and genderless fashion, Espadas is setting up a business model that shies away from the restrictions imposed by the industry. “I’m not interested in delivering something that is seasonal, my approach is more about the freedom of expressing what I feel as a creative,” explained the designer, who combines her knowledge of garment construction with a refined artistic sensibility expressed through precious details and artisanal touches.
“My inspiration is really grounded in the power of dreaming,” Espadas said. “What fascinates me most is communicating different characters through clothes.”
For spring 2022, the designer said she looked at the Renaissance entrances of the churches in her hometown, Úbeda, as a source of inspiration. However, they didn’t serve as architectural, visual references, but the god figures carved into their structures “speak of universal themes that still survive in today’s world. The 21st century’s man still relies on the imaginary,” she said. “In my mind, the garments in the collection show how boundaries can be bridged through dreams, desire and creativity in searching for a common illusion.”
Straps and belts play a key role in the collection. “In the same way a belt ties clothes to the body, it connects the wearer closer to reality,” said Espadas, explaining that the straps, ropes and belts inlaid into jackets, shirts, jeans and pockets enable those who wear the clothes to reinvent each garment. “There is a constant tension between restriction and imagination.”
For this collection, the designer also wanted to take her collaborative work approach to the next level. For example, she commissioned the production of the belts and leather pieces to a small family company in her hometown; knitwear was produced in London in collaboration with designer Ilena Blumberg and hats were developed with Vivienne H. Lake. In addition, for the first time, Espadas has teamed with her father, painter and sculptor Antonio Espadas, who created unique ceramic labels for each garment embellished with Tiscar Espadas’ fingerprint, as a symbol of handmade craftsmanship. — ALESSANDRA TURRA
ANDREA POMPILIO X HARMONT & BLAINE
Via a digital runway show on June 21, Andrea Pompilio will unveil the first of the two capsule collections he agreed to design for Neapolitan casualwear brand Harmont & Blaine.
“At first sight, Harmont & Blaine and I might look like two very distant worlds, but actually we have a lot of things in common,” said Pompilio, adding that through this collaboration he had the chance to rediscover Naples, the hometown of his grandfather and father.
One of the links between Pompilio and the brand, which received an investment from investment fund Clessidra in 2014, is the use of color — a key element of both the Andrea Pompilo line and the Harmont & Blaine collections.
“With this capsule we brought the color experimentation to the next level,” said the designer during a phone call from Capri the day before the filming of the runway show in a still-undisclosed iconic location in Naples. “All the looks are monochromatic and we garment-dyed everything, from clothes to shoes and accessories.”
The collection’s 25 monochromatic looks, rendered in color from neutral such as ivory white, beige gray and blue to vibrant shades of red, green, yellow and orange, are injected with a cool, young vibe, thanks to the slightly oversized silhouettes and the laid-back attitude.
“We wanted to convey a cool, fresh look, targeting young consumers, maybe the sons of Harmont & Blaine’s loyal consumers,” said Pompilio.
The collection features a wardrobe of everyday staples with a twist, including Bermuda shorts, trousers, but also ’50s short shorts, matched with shirts crafted from fluid viscose or a patchwork of striped cotton fabrics, as well as with T-shirts, hoodies, shirt jackets and waterproof trenchcoats embellished with corduroy and taping.
The look is completed by backpacks, bags and revisited boxing shoes with an eye-catching sole wrapping around the upper.
“Also the accessories are garment dyed,” Pompilio highlighted. “The overall feel is like we put the pieces in several washing machines and that the items got colored in monochromatic shades.”
The collection will be available at Harmont & Blaine stores and at the brand’s online shop, as well as at select retailers. — A.T.
“To change the male attitude, remove prejudices and try to get everyone inspired to wear tailoring on a day-to-day basis” is the ultimate goal Spanish designer Jaime Álvarez has for his brand Mans, which is making its debut as part of the Milan Fashion Week official schedule this season.
“To be honest, I’m very nervous and it’s a big responsibility,” he said about the debut, underscoring the event’s relevance for men’s fashion. “This moment was inconceivable a year ago and it’s a big step for us.”
Born in La Luisiana, Seville, in 1994, Álvarez launched the brand in 2017, when he finished his studies at the Istituto Europeo di Design school in Madrid.
During his academic years, Álvarez diverted his initial focus on women’s wear toward men’s wear, as he noticed the gap in men’s fashion between traditional tailoring and more eccentric designs. This sparked his creativity and inspired him to try to fill in the blanks through a hybrid wardrobe reinterpreting classic sartorial references to meet youth subcultures in “a continuous balance between tradition and contemporary.”
If so far the designer has delivered dressy lineups — often revisited with a soft touch through fluid or sheer fabrics, relaxed silhouettes and pastel tones, or filled with suits in cropped proportions, cutouts and bold, vibrant patterns — for spring 2022 a more juvenile feel will take over the collection as Álvarez wanted to channel a summer camp vibe.
“I wanted to reflect [on] two essential worlds after this dark and challenging time that’s been affecting all of us: Now it’s time to enjoy freedom and have fun,” he said.
Comfortable, unfussy separates will include functional vests instead of blazers to be worn over baggy shirts and styled with Bermuda shorts in colorful patterns, ranging from floral and animal prints to bright reinterpretations of camouflage.
The summery feel will be further conveyed through the short movie the brand will unveil on June 18. “We wanted to create a youthful atmosphere in a summer camp by mixing a story with a catwalk,” noted the designer, revealing that the presentation was filmed at the Bois de Vincennes forestland located on the eastern edge of Paris. “It is a magical place where the essence of the collection was perfectly captured in the way we wanted. This is a tribute to the physical fashion shows that we hope will come back soon,” he added.
Before touching base in Milan, Álvarez presented the Mans collections at the 080 Barcelona Fashion event, receiving the honor for best emerging designer multiple times, and as part of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid. Last year, he also scooped up the top prize at Vogue Spain’s Who Is On Next contest, which enabled him to receive 100,000 euros to invest in the further development of his company.
With price points ranging from $80 to $2,000, the brand entered the wholesale channel last year. — SANDRA SALIBIAN
Sustainability has been at the core of Nicola Dalpaos’ work since the beginning.
Born in 1986, the designer took his first steps in fashion by launching a capsule collection of unisex T-shirts in deadstock fabrics from the furniture industry as well as recycled textiles recovered from multiple sources. From this first venture, he expanded to offer a complete range, including accessories.
Founded five years ago, the Dalpaos brand continues to embrace the same eco-conscious approach in developing wearable garments in relaxed, elongated silhouettes, encompassing oversized boxy jackets and shirts, roomy overcoats, hoodies and baggy pants with drawstrings.
“The brand mission is to keep evolving, presenting new visions and concepts always focusing on new sustainable possibilities,” said the designer.
Without giving away too much about the upcoming collection, he said the spring 2022 range will be called “Palindrome” and include references to different decades, with a particular focus on the early 2000s. Denim pants with recycled PVC inserts, faux leather shirts and accessories in tulle will join separates in recycled cotton in the lineup, which will feature handmade items and industrialized pieces.
A literal nod to the collection’s theme will appear in palindrome words and sentences popping up on sweatshirts as well as on the martingale on the back of coats, including the “Too hot to hoot” writing printed on a hoodie.
The range will be revealed digitally on June 19 via “a presentation from another era with very special models,” teased the designer, who worked with 3D fashion developer Sylwia Anna Szymczyk to turn the faces of talents into alien-like characters.
The creative trick is intended to strengthen the message and overall vision of a hypothetical future where, in addition to using what has been discarded in previous decades, everybody lives in harmony and there’s no discrimination, according to Dalpaos.
A semi-finalist at the CNMI Green Carpet Talent competition in 2019 and a finalist at the Vogue Who Is on Next contest last year, the designer is not only focused on his brand, but also seasonally collaborates with other European and American start-ups and medium-sized companies on the design and product development. — S.S.