MILAN — Gentlemen, things are going to get serious next fall and winter.
It could be the crisis gloom, but many Milan designers are thinking business. Double-breasted suits are a favorite in preview shows that continued Sunday for a second day. As are flat leather bags, good for computers, or even newspapers.
Shoes are classics, oxford lace-ups, loafers, fringed moccasins or ankle boots, often with silver accents. A bit of bling?
Suits are tailored, and colors are dark and sober, with luxury expressed mostly through the materials — alpaca, cashmere and tweeds. There is little sportswear in this round of Milan menswear with the overcoat making an elegant comeback.
Scarves are also making a strong showing — a layer of security, not only against the bitter winter nights but also the financial chill.
The Prada winter fashion show was pure entertainment from the real live actors modeling the clothes, to the huge red-carpeted runway set in the ballroom of an invented palazzo, to the eccentric and at times dramatic outfits.
Such Hollywood A-listers as Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Gary Oldman, Tim Roth, Emile Hirsch and Jamie Bell walked the runway with a naturalness that confirmed their talent as perfect players in the Prada pageant.
Most of the actors wore the collection's staple overcoat, long, black and elegant with wire-rimmed sunglasses tucked like a handkerchief in the breast pocket.
Only Adrian Brody donned a double-breasted red overcoat with a black velvet collar and fur-trimmed lapel, and sported matching red-lensed, round sunglasses.
Overall Miuccia Prada's winter 2013 collection spoke of a man who likes to be both eccentric and mysterious, is quite sure of himself and at times a bit of a snob.
He wears brooches that look like medals on his jacket, prefers vests to sweaters and likes the arrogance of a high stiff collar on his white shirts. He's not embarrassed to wear underwear as outerwear and toss off his overcoat to reveal a pair of boxer shorts paired with a tuxedo shirt and gartered knee socks.
Somewhat of a dandy, he prefers his hair long, as is tempted by the eccentricity of a mustache.
Leave it to Miuccia, who every season proves to be the most creative of Italian designers, to put on a show where despite the thrill of Oscar-winning actors playing the part of models, the clothes still kept the leading role.
"Rock star meets gentleman" could be the headline for the latest Bottega Veneta winter collection.
The skinny trousers, close-to-the-body blazers, silver shirts and high heeled ankle boots that made up the preview menswear show smack of the over the top styles of the 1960's. Put into the hands of creative designer Tomas Maier, like most of what he touches, the outfits turn to class.
Daytime suits come in extra light gray or blue fabric, interwoven with geometric design. The jacket is slim-fitting and the trousers pencil-thin. Shimmering shirtwear, velvet detailing, pointed boots and a wisp of a tie complete the 1960s look.
For outerwear, Maier offers up deep-blue double-breasted shearling jackets with contrasting black lining, cut very close to the body, and nifty cropped shearling vests.
Leather, featured on many of the runways of the current Milan menswear preview showings, also plays a major role at Bottega Veneta, with classic leather coats and chic sport jackets with fur epaulettes.
A silver bomber jacket worn over a pair of leather leggings laced at the calf, and colorful high heeled boots was the only false note in the collection.
"These are times for a less aggressive and more human approach to life," Giorgio Armani said after the presentation of his second line, Emporio.
The designer was referring to how people should deal with the current crisis, also he believes, reflected in the way they dress.
The winter 2013 menswear collection was subdued but not somber, revisiting old classics and giving them a contemporary twist.
The favorite item of the collection is the scarf, the perennial security blanket.
Almost as wide as a pashmina, or long and skinny like a football scarf, or kerchief style, the new scarf shields the Armani man from chill winds, whatever their origin.
Black leather, which appears almost everywhere this round of menswear preview showings, at Armani becomes a collarless trench coat cut close to the body and belted at the waist. Other winter outerwear include duffle coats and double-breasted pea coats in ultra soft wools, trimmed in fur. Sheepskin is used for blanket-like robe jackets belted at the waist and mini vests to be worn over jackets for extra protection.
The latest Emporio suit has a classic if rather close to the body jacket and a slim trouser. Ties are optional.
Like the styles, the colors reflect "a discipline of thought and conduct," as the designer put it in his show notes.
Black, ebony brown, anthracite and smoky gray, have always been Armani favorites, but given the present climate their discretion is particularly fitting.
Vivienne Westwood is not afraid to mix it up with the elements.
For her 2013 menswear winter collection, models walked the runway as if they had just returned from a harrowing trip to one of the Earth's poles. They were covered in icicles, shaggy beards and mustaches (some obviously faux), and in some cases overgrown hair.
Westwood said in a note that she took inspiration from arctic explorers in a bid to raise awareness about global warming.
The clothes conjure adventure — as one would expect from Westwood, well known for her eclectic looks — even if in reality few would stand the test of arctic temperatures. But then, it's awareness she was after, not verisimilitude.
One model had a pirate quality, dressed in belted roomy black trousers and a black sweater with strategic holes in the sides suggesting hardship, but oozing style.
Amid the social message, Westwood managed to make her style points as well. She dressed her hardy men in sherling coats over thick knit high-neck sweaters with and comfortable trousers. Scarves were not necessarily for the neck, but tied around the waist provided an extra layer against the cold.
Once safe in civilization, the returning explorers could change into something more indoorsy, say a tartan plaid suit paired with identical shirt and tie. Westwood generously mixed patterns, marrying a plaid brown jacket with an orange plaid shirt topping striped pants. And their were tailored jackets in contrasting panels, and even pants each leg a different plaid.
And to celebrate the journey, what better than a tuxedo. Like others showing in Milan this week, Westwood favored double breasted jackets, but she stuck with the classic bow tie for tuxedos where others went with the more casual turtleneck.
With overcoat collars turned up, and wide scarves wrapped around the neck, the Ferragmo man is fortified against the cold winds of next winter.
More than likely, he is protecting himself against the bitter wind tunnels of a metropolis, and not the wind-swept wild.
The winter 2013 collection by designer Massimiliano Giornetti is decidedly urban.
With slicked-back hair, the Ferragamo man is natty in double-breasted pinstripe suits. He pairs them with finely knit sweaters and shirts, with a tie or sometimes a bowtie.
The overall color scheme is serious, gray, blue and black, with flashes of teal green, deep purple or lightest peach, sometimes just peeking through a gap between the overcoat and scarf.
The Ferragamo man can just as easily go monochromatic, with a burgundy knit turtleneck paired with burgundy pants, broken up by a small flat leather bag worn on a belt.
Touches of velvet on overcoats collars and eveningwear lapels create a sense of elegance. Tuxedo jackets, often of shimmery fabric, are worn with simple black turtlenecks, creating a casual tone and putting the emphasis, again, on warmth.
Footwear is mostly thick-soled ankle boots with silver accents, a tribute to Ferragamo's origins as a shoemaker. Bags designed for work are flat, complemented by iPad holders in soft calf.
Fall and winter are prime Missoni seasons, crying out for knitwear, knitwear, knitwear.
Missoni's menswear looks for next winter provide lots of excuses to layer.
Start with a fine-knit pullover, add one cardigan, oh, and why not another, then a felt wool parka for extra warmth. Or a cardigan over a hooded windbreaker. Then consider perhaps a high-collared cardigan under a shawl collared cardigan. There is seemingly no end to the possibilities.
Angela Missoni didn't shy away from patterns in her trousers, offering tartan micro plaid wool pants for a busier look. For a quieter one, there were slim-fitting corduroy pants, mostly in dark colors like chestnut, plum or burgundy, reflecting the overall sober palate.
The collection featured outerwear of every stripe: duffle coats, bomber jackets, biker jackets, hunting parkas, and even puffy down jackets.
Missoni threw in some fun touches, finishing off outfits with large billed caps providing a whimsical silhouette, and necklaces of small crochet circles that integrate with the crew neckline.
Footwear featured leather ankle-high boots or fringed moccasins with sturdy soles, or woolen knit sneakers in the trademark Missoni zigzag.