Fashion operates on a completely different timetable from that of mere mortals. Actually, that’s the least of how it operates differently, if truth be told, but we already know that from The Devil Wears Prada, don’t we?
So while this issue is devoted to real clothes in real time—i.e., what men and women need and can wear and buy now—in early January, the big guns of men’s fashion started rolling out the looks for fall 2014 in London, Florence, Milan and Paris.
First stop, London and the new Rosewood hotel—designer Tony Chi is a genius—then to a presentation by Tom Ford himself, as always trim and on point, who had worked his usual sartorial magic with luxely tailored everything, along with his first ever…sneakers? “I know, I know,” he fessed up. “I always said I would never do sneakers because everyone else was, but I figured out how to do them my way.” For the season’s Big Serious Overcoat, Christopher Bailey at Burberry Prorsum chose an arty palette for voluptuous silk scarves and oversized totes that referenced North African kilims and the geometric zigzags of the Russian Constructivists.
In Florence, it was the Hotel Savoy, right on the Piazza della Repubblica, and then Pitti Uomo, the biannual menswear fair where familiar names—Brunello Cucinelli, Stefano Ricci, Isaia—share space with those perhaps less well known, including PT01, a tremendous line of under-the-radar men’s trousers (carried by Saks Fifth Avenue in the States), and the fragrances of Florentine master perfumer Lorenzo Villoresi, whose scents are available at Lafco on Lafayette Street in Manhattan.
An hour and 40 minutes by superspeedy Frecciarossa train and we were at the Park Hyatt Milan, which, we happily report, is still one of the best-run hotels on the planet thanks to general manager Gorka Bergareche. All the big players were in motion—Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Tod’s—on and off the runway. Stefano Pilati’s second collection for Ermenegildo Zegna showed outerwear in an out-there production—more Imax than runway, replete with all the digital bells and whistles. Moncler Gamme Bleu’s runway is always witty. Tomas Maier’s was a much more hushed affair, as befitted the discreet, singularly focused collection of Bottega Veneta menswear. Maier’s signature totes were not nearly so ubiquitous this season, as if to say: Look at the suit, not the bag! Not so with Etro, whose productions always have a bit of the P.T. Barnum three-ring circus about them. This season Kean Etro and the models paraded the runway accompanied by the brand’s in-house tailors and seamstresses to make sure the message got across loud and clear: MADE IN ITALY BY…ITALIANS.
Silvia Fendi had the wow factor in spades. Her men’s show was a revelation, emphasizing luxurious fabrics and über-refined tailoring, turning fur and leather, as WWD put it, into “some of the most intricate outerwear seen in Milan.” Umberto Angeloni, former CEO of Brioni, is busily building his own new luxury superstar brands, Caruso and Uman, proving this season that he’s definitely ready for prime time…and a soon-to-be-announced location for his first stateside store.
Next stop, Paris, and dinner at bistro Lazare, the toughest reservation that week. To my mind, the city still has the best—wittiest, stylish and most entertaining—hotels in the world, among them Le Royal Monceau and Le Meurice. Any coincidence that these two are also managed by two of the great general managers, Omer Acar at the former and Franka Holtmann at the latter? Interestingly enough, the very best of the shows—Hermès, Berluti (in its very first runway show), Louis Vuitton and Valentino (which seems like the hautest brand on the planet these days) were all about sophisticated grown-up clothing for sophisticated grown-ups who buy thinking top drawer, not bottom line. Modern, immaculately tailored and dressy but never stiff and formal, these are clothes for those who want to make a statement, send a message or just feel like a million bucks.