MILAN - The winter fashion statement coming out of Milan this time has been decidedly conservative.
Milan designers stuck to the classics in their menswear collections for next winter, presented during four days of previews that ended Tuesday, but sought to enhance the traditional with a focus on technology and details.
Radical fashion choices were definitely out.
Staples — suits, double-breasted and pinstriped, as well as coats — were the mainstays in any collection, coming in urban dark colours: anthracite, navy and slate grey.
Yellow as the stand-out colour of the season but baby blue also saw more exposure, showing up even as a monochromatic overcoat.
Details reflected the winter season. Pockets were big and bold, as were some of the buttons or clasps. Men were challenged to try a little lace, on both their outer and underwear and male jewelry included lockets and amulets. In addition to ties, there were kerchiefs knotted neatly at the neck.
And the new fashion dilemma? Socks or no socks. Shoes were oversized and worn with skinny cropped pants.
Designers also experimented with technology to play with cashmere, leather and fur, enriching their looks. Sweaters had a starring role in that vein, notably big and bulky and often worn with shirts left deliberately untucked. Finer knits replaced shirts under jackets, will all this adding up to a boyish look.
The Missoni family went ahead with their preview show, to the admiration of the fashion world, despite the uncertain fate of CEO Vittorio Missoni, eldest son of the founders of the famed knitwear company. His plane went missing with five others on board off Venezuelan vacation islands on Jan. 4.
Next winter marks the "return of the classic suit." That's just what Giorgio Armani does best.
Fame came to the designer in the 1970s with his invention of the lining-less jacket. Shortly afterwards Armani became a fashion icon when he dressed Richard Gere for his role in the 1980 film "American Gigolo." Ever since, an Armani suit has been a must among the jet set.
The designer's latest collection included super-light single and double-breasted suits with tailored trousers. Suit jackets and pants may appear to be the same, but techno treatments mean the textures may be slightly different.
In the sportswear department, Armani offers structured leather coats and jackets using modern technology that recreates an age-old Italian tanning process. For the ski set — or anyone in a city blizzard — he provides a water-resistant hooded parka with a cozy fur lining.
Armani sticks to his urban colour guns using black, warm greys and shades of brown. The surprise effect comes in the recurring flashes of ruby red, for pants, jackets or just a touch of bright detail.
Canadian designing twins Dean and Dan Caten of the DSquared2 label present their wears in a different runway setting each year. For next winter, the show theme was a 1940s jazz club complete with pretty girls and a trumpet-blowing, white-tuxedoed band.
The DSquared2 guy has just come home from the front and is looking for a good time. At first, he still sports his army private hat, crumpled military jacket, trim trousers and sturdy combat boots.
But he soon gets the swing of things, hitting the dance floor in a double-breasted wide-lapeled suit, accessorized by an exaggerated bowler hat and slick footwear. He now wears his pants low-slung, and his shirt tails stick out from under his fancy cashmere crew-neck sweater.
No matter what the current theme, DSquared2 is still all about jeans. This round they come loose and worn out, but also carefully pressed to match the classic camel hair coats and the luxurious Astrakhan furs featured in the show.
Colours for the new winter collection are mainly monochromatic: black, white, gold, red and green. Favorite accessories include waistcoats, suspenders, pocket watch chains and a tuxedo bib.
Fashion designer Angelo Galasso says men are becoming increasingly more fashion-indulgent and vain but says designers must move with caution.
An Italian based in London, Galasso's strategy is to add fashion touches to already accepted styles, conquering male wariness one small step at a time.
"Men have a harder time accepting change," Galasso said at his Milan showroom during a presentation for Milan Fashion Week, which wrapped up Tuesday. "I work on a piece that has already been seen and accepted, and maybe add an unusual lining or different buttons."
Once Galasso sees those changes are accepted, he will tinker some more, a process he calls "tradition in evolution."
Galasso's collections are rooted in traditional styles, such as double-breasted suits and overcoats, and he typically combines British touches such as equestrian motifs with Italian flair and tailoring.
The latest collection mixes plaid, striped and checked patterns with velvet and shearling details and dandy bow ties. A plaid tuxedo jacket with velvet trim was worn over a classic V-neck sweater paired with a white shirt and a bow tie.
A rich royal blue suede jacket with grey shearling lining and cuffs was worn over a mix-matched plaid jacket and shirts. The combined looks were rich without being flashy.