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Kinky boots at Prada and J Dubs heads for the halfpipe: SS23 in review Menswear


From Donatella’s Versace potheads to brown cow stunning prints at Fendi, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about the SS23 menswear collections shown in Milano

One down, two to go. With a downsized London Fashion Week going by in a flash last weekend, after a brief pit-stop at Pitti, the circus has rolled into Milano. Amid sweltering temperatures, as a sweltering heatwave fans out across Europe, here’s everything you need to know from the Italian runways.

As JW Anderson collaborator and all round icon Charli XCX said not too long ago: “Let’s Ride!” Seems like the Northern Irish wunderkind who, at the moment, can do no wrong, has taken note, given his womenswear LOEWE offering for AW22 put forth two pretty wild sculptural dresses in the shape of sportscars, and this season, the offering under his eponymous label hacked up BMX bike handlebars and smashed skateboards, and plastered them over boxy knits, sweatshirts, and blown-up shirts. Things were uncanny as ever throughout, as tees were given the tin can treatment, with peeled back lids revealing flashes of bare torso, while denim was distressed and rode low on the hips – a kind of extreme version of the jeans and minis the likes of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie favoured circa their Simple Life days. Best of all, as per usual, were the accessories. The ubiquitous, brilliantly bonkers Bumper bag that’s swinging on plenty of arms right now was given a Swarovski crystal makeover for SS23, alongside pumped up wedges that also sparkled as models weaved through the warehouse space the show called home. 

Donatella got the girlies going this season, as she placed a crystallised electric fan on every seat as the mercury hit record temperatures in Milano (truly, so sweaty). The city’s streets weren’t the only thing practically on fire under the blazing sun, though, with the iconique blonde designer’s SS23 menswear collection also pretty damn scorchio, too. For the most part, it was business as usual, as Greek gods spilled across wafting silk shirts and sultry, body-con vests. There was neon snakeskin, as seen on a brilliantly cut car coat with matching straight leg trousers, as well as a selection of must-cop, cut-out bodies that bared their wearers’ backs (turns out, these were stolen from the womenswear collection, so basically anyone and everyone who wants to slip into a Versace one-piece is covered next season. Meanwhile, the collection didn\’t stop at clothes, as Donatella shoved sparkling sippy-cups and huge ceramic pots and vases bearing signature house motifs under her cast’s arms. No cash to splash on Vers-ayce home bits and pieces? No problem. Just don’t let your mum catch you doing the same with hers, okay? 

How do you follow up a show like last season’s Prada presentation, when the likes of Kyle McLachlan, Jeff Goldblum, and Damson Idris walked the runway? You strip it all back to stark simplicity, and don’t even try. The walls of Mrs. P and Raf’s HQ were hung with huge rolls of white paper shot through with flashes of gingham, which guests were warned in no uncertain terms not to lean against (until someone did, and fell straight through), while the collection itself was a lesson in understated subversiveness. There was something brilliantly seedy about its prim, picnic-blanket car coats and muted greige macs, and the way they were paired with tight vests and blousy five-inch seamed leather shorts – some of which came with neat little zip-down flaps to the crotch for easy access. Further discomfort came via the creepily fab boots and their Childcatcher-esque turned-up pointy toes, which a big proportion of the models wore as they made their way through the space. The whole thing had a heavy ‘nice-boy-led-astray’ kinky vibe: if you go down in the woods circa SS23, be sure of a big surprise, basically.

After two and a bit years of COVID hell, the Summer of Love (pt. II) is here according to twins Dean and Dan Caten. Sacking off the office and heading for the beach – seemingly the second destination on DSquared2’s world tour, after the brand landed at Everest base camp circa AW22 – the collection combined a mish-mash of influences to become a what was essentially a maximalist’s wet dream (minimalists, meanwhile, are advised to look away). Models stormed through the showspace in boxy Hawaiian shirts dotted with exotic flora, flared denim jeans, which had been either patchworked or splattered with beach, and punchy sarongs and pareos layered over louche trousers with dropped crotches – essentially, it was an offering that evoked your suitcase after a couple of months travelling the world, picking bits and pieces up from market stalls as you went. Finishing touches came via DSquared2-emblazoned surfboards tucked under arms, for those looking to live out their Point Break fantasies (but make it fashion).

As the mercury reached a sweaty AF 34 degrees in Milan on day one of the SS23 menswear shows, where better to head than an expansive outdoor swimming pool to cool off? That’s exactly what Matthew Williams did – only, sadly for all concerned, the Franco Scarioni pool has long been derelict and devoid of water. Instead, models stomped around the liminal space’s perimeter in a collection that was oh-so-Alyx: think techy track pants, half-on, half-off hoodies slung over shoulders, hefty gilets worn over bare chests, and plenty of hardcore hardware for the boys, and sweeping, second-skin gowns, popping Barbie-pink minidresses, and bath pouffe-esque coats in pops of neon lemon for the girls. Obviously, the designer’s signature clompy, space age shoes (also seen at Givenchy) featured heavily, too, alongside a ravey take on a gladiator sandal, which snaked all the way up models’ legs. Rounding things off was a new Nike collab, and with Martine Rose, who also sat front row at Williams’ show, also scoring her own link-up with the label for the new season, it’s safe to say the team there is going to be pretty busy come summer 2023.

MSGM kicked off day two of MFW with yet another collection that hammered home just how easy breezy SS23 is going to be (and lord knows we deserve our hot girl/boy/non-binary summer). Cropped tops crept onto the catwalk this season, as seen across boxy jackets with sharp shoulders, lightweight spread-collar shirts, and classic tees, many of which were paired with the Italian label’s crisp cotton boxers (underwear as outerwear? Into it). Like DSquared2’s Dan and Dean Caten, designer Massimo Giorgetti also served up a series of surf inspired motifs, though the surfboard themselves were, this time, notably absent. Looks were finished off with wide-brimmed stetsons and casj bucket hats bearing bold floral prints: though, given the gusts of wind whipped up round the back of the Fondazione Prada, plenty of the models failed to keep them on their heads. 

No real surprise that the holiday bug has taken Milano by storm this season, which is no surprise when you consider we were stuck in the house for months on end during COVID, and later relegated to our respective countries as restrictions to-and-fro’d and escape was off the agenda. Seems like Silvia Venturini Fendi has getting the hell out of Dodge (slash Italy) on the brain right now, too, as the Fendi matriarch dropped an easy, breezy collection to see you through summer and beyond. Denim was deconstructed and loose, as seen across jeans, boxy shirts, and a smattering of Baguette and Peekaboo bags with tactile frayed hems, lightweight trench coats in soft, almost semi-diaphanous fabrics billowed out behind the models, and faded brown cow stunning prints suede spilled over louche sweatshirts and cut-off tees, as well as handy, just-enough-room-for-the-essentials pouches. Finishing flourishes took the form of scalpless bucket hats that brought Mr. Wormwood from Matilda to mind, and a particularly brilliant pair of armpit-length waders given a Fendi spin through double-F logos and painterly splotches to the chest. Plans for summer 2023? Gone fishing.

Milan’s new kid on the block descended on the city for the first time this season, as the native Berliners took over a behemoth warehouse on its outskirts. What transpired inside was a pretty literal depiction of life in the spiritual home of techno, as a sort of ‘mini Berghain’ was erected at the end of the catwalk – disgruntled bouncer standing guard and everything. In subversive, punky looks comprising bondage-style trousers and louche trackies, XXL blown-up hoodies, snaking strappy tops, and big stomping bovver boots, the unconventional cast stormed the runway and made their way into the club. No “neins” here tonight, baby. 

Like many other brands at their peak in the late 90s and early 00s are doing right now to capitalise on the renewed interest in turn-of-the-millennium aesthetics, Dolce & Gabbana turned in the direction of its archives this season. Turning the clock back through to 1992 right up to 2003, the Italian label’s latest collection read like a greatest hits from its menswear offerings, with ripped models strutting down the runway in ‘Sicilians are sensational’ slogan tees, low-riding vests bearing jewel-encrusted crucifixes and effigies of Jesus, and flapping, open dressing gowns with D&G logo tighty-whities that left little to le imagination underneath. Basically, it was OTT business as usual for Dolce circa SS23.




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