Gucci’s new look and other highlights of Milan Fashion Week

Models wear outfits including a gray silk bomber jacket and a turquoise double breasted jacket
Models during the Gucci Fall/Winter 23 show in Milan © Kevin Tachman

The conclusion was the focus of the fall/winter 2023 menswear show in Milan. I mean this both figuratively – there was an overarching trend of pulling back the hem of overlong coats so that they ended either around the lower leg or trailing a few inches behind you in the mud – and literally, as evident in the focus on tailoring, dark colour, garment staples , quality fabrics and affirmation of individual brand identity.

Those elements were highlighted in the collection Gucci showed on Friday — the brand’s return to the menswear calendar after a three-year hiatus and the first designs debuted by the in-house team following the departure of creative director Alessandro Michele in November.

There was an inevitable sense of an interregnum, a hush, to this Gucci collection: the collection was devoid of Michele’s wit and playfulness, instead offering a serviceable and sleek cut, with sportswear and plenty of logos.

As it usually does at times like this, the house dug through its archives, referencing both Michele’s work – his bestselling Dionysus bag got a makeover – and the leather and sexiness of his acclaimed 1990s predecessor, Tom Ford. There were throwbacks from the ’80s, too—leg warmers, cavalier boots, and button-and-buckle silk scarf prints that hinted at the brand’s time in the fashion backwaters—as well as sizable, coveted leather clutch bags. All in all, this was a salutary effort made under uncertain circumstances. There is no doubt that there will be buyers for stylish louche jackets and flared jeans. But it remains to be seen which of those dual and seemingly two-tone aesthetics – classic suiting versus fast sportswear – Gucci will nail to its mast as a new identity to re-ignite its reportedly slow turnover.

The model wears a double-breasted ankle-length coat

Gucci’s in-house design team delved into the brand’s archives for Spring/Summer 2023, referencing classic tailoring. . .

The model is walking, with her hands in her pockets, wearing jeans and a pale yellow top

. . . and ’80s throwbacks like flared jeans and loafers

The model wears boots, a hat and wide trousers

At Dsquared2, models wore flashy sportswear from trucker hats to loud bomber jackets. . . © Photo: Daniele Oberrauch/

The model wears a cap, low-cut blue vest and jeans with star patterns on the knee

. . . flowy denim and diamond details © Photo: Daniele Oberrauch/

A few brands seem to shed the old skin and move on to the new, or vice versa. Dean and Dan Caten at Dsquared2 have returned to a very special kind of flashy, trashy, goofy but fun sportswear (shredded socks with thongs, chewed up jeans, trucker hats and diamante) that they excelled at around 15 a few years ago. It was silly but exciting, and it marked a dizzying return to form.

And after several seasons of wooing Gen Z shoppers, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana decided to tailor a suit—and another suit, and a swirling cape, and many floor-length coats that looked vaguely ecclesiastical, in a black they likened to Sicilian volcanic ash. . It was elegant, perhaps too elegant, their collection swaying towards the costume rack of the frail hero of Visconti’s epic. An ivory evening suit with full hips and matching gloves is a hard sell in 2023.

Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons named their collection directly “Let’s Talk About Clothes”. Which means that, as a pneumatic ceiling rose and then dropped 30 feet or so to shift the scale of the brand’s vast runway space at Prada’s Milan Art Foundation, we were encouraged to associate the movement not with wobbly stock markets or biblical doom, but with the changing volumes of the clothes themselves. Forget the apocalypse, look at those hemlines!

A model in a dramatic black cape

Dolce & Gabbana’s hyper-elegant collection included a floor-length black cape. . . © Monique

A model in a white suit walks the runway

. . . and ivory suit with matching gloves © Monic

Model in a black suit

At Prada, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons took turns in precise tailoring. . . © Monique

Model in tight black pants and a short white puffer jacket

. . . with traditional menswear elements such as duffel coats reinvented through couture-influenced silhouettes © Monic

In fact, Miuccia Prada has always sought to use her status as a fashion designer to comment on global situations – one of the few designers to do so. For her, it is an important part of the job. “We always talk about reality, and we, as designers, are very aware of what’s going on, the problems, the difficulties,” she said backstage. “This is a complicated moment in the world — and we are reacting to it. The fairest thing we can do is create something useful for people today.” There was a sense of utility to these clothes, clothes that Simons called “familiar, archetypal clothes.” They elevated the jackets to massive, oversized proportions, stuffing them with quilt batting to create an almost completely spherical, couture-influenced silhouette above a narrowly defined waist. Prada also ditched traditional menswear items such as duffel coats, parkas or donkey jackets for the season’s defined ankle length, while all around they proposed a precise fit with fancy button-down collars in mohair pieces and fragments of Prada prints from the past.

This was a skillful example of a brand combining its heritage with long-term aspirations for the future: Prada is currently undergoing a generational shift, preparing for Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli’s son, Lorenzo, to become CEO of the group in the next few years. The confidence of Prada’s financial prospects was absolutely reflected in the energy of this outfit.

The model with sunglasses wears a baggy gray suit

Alessandro Sartori from Zegna focused on a simple, wide-leg trouser silhouette. . .

The model, with his hands in his pockets, wears a red shirt and trousers in the same style

. . . and weightless knit in buttermilk, gray and bright red

The other two strong performances of Milan were Zegna and Armani. Gen Z is the other end of the alphabet to Armani and doesn’t care whether or not they want beaded evening tuxedos (for him) or muted knits or nubby tweeds. Because he knows that many people will do it. In the season of great coats, Armani’s were the best—a pile of swirling Balmacanas of impeccable fit. Whether you’re 18 or 89 — Giorgio Armani is going big this year — you’d wear them and look great in them.

A young pretender, perhaps, to Armani’s throne is Alessandro Sartori from Zegna. He shares Armani’s refined sensibility for fabrics, as well as his early desire to deconstruct and soften cuts to make them modern. Sartori’s suits at Zegna this time around seemed sharply tailored, but were actually created through layered fabric—double, even triple—rather than the interfacing of canvas. Sartori said this helped the company in its drive to recycle as much material as possible – it’s harder to separate clothes if they’re sewn with canvas. And many of the garments here are made from recycled textiles, to give them a grainy texture and a mélange finish of more muted tones.

Yet it was the garment itself – its design, not the materials – that was worth writing about: the simplicity of the cardigan translated into a cashmere double cut; bulky knit without weight; suits cut with raw edges; colors bubbling through the buttermilk, gray, flashes of bright red. And Sartori’s light, baggy trouser silhouette looked great. It was the final flourish of some of the most quietly exciting garments of a quietly strong Milan season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *