- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

MILAN (AP) - Milan designers offered a softer, sporty silhouette for men next fall and winter.

Menswear has been driving Italian luxury exports as well as global sales of luxury goods as men become more daring and discerning in their wardrobe choices. Purchases are no longer relegated to special occasion tuxes or watches, but also encompass every-day wear for home and office.

That can help explain the trend in Milan toward relaxed and athletic looks, typified by active-wear pants cinched at the waist, often in knit fabrics, paired with big, boxy sweat shirts and sweaters. There was a sense of escape, offering men an alternate reality.

Still, there was no shortage of suits and coats. One of the week’s strongest trends were skinny pants, evoking the 1960s, often worn with neat, cropped jackets.

The main color palate was darkly masculine, with a smattering of dusty pastels and contrast of eggplant, peacock and greens. Designers also flashed up garments in shiny silver and gold. Shoes were heavily soled and bags ample.

Even when loose and casual, the looks were always underpinned by Italian tailoring, craftsmanship and innovative textiles that enriched the garments - putting the focus on Made in Italy. Designers achieved fresh effects by reworking fabrics, weaving flax with cashmere to retain a masculine edge to sweaters and bonding neoprene with Tuscan wool for a turbulent surface effect on outerwear. One house, Etro, even paraded their artisans down the runway alongside the garments they helped realize.



Giorgio Armani has loosened up his silhouette for next winter.

The Milan fashion powerhouse sprang to prominence with his 1970s deconstructed jacket with big shoulders. For next winter’s menswear collection, previewed Tuesday on the last day of Milan Fashion Week, Armani has reworked that jacket, taking structural cues from cardigans.

The result is a look that maintains the emblematic Armani tailoring while at the same time being relaxed with gently sloping, raglan shoulders. Then Armani does something else: he inverts his look, and beneath the easy jacket, which is almost always unbuttoned, he puts a very button-down vest, double-breasted with or without a slotted lapel for a new take on the three-piece suit.

Pants were mostly straight, often with a neat raised crease running down the front. Armani also created baggier trousers for some more athletic and Bohemian looks.

Still, the looser silhouette was almost always kept in check by more constrained elements and mood of the collection overall was sober and elegant. Colors were dark hues, blue, brown and grays, with white shirts providing contrast. Fabrics included velvet and corduroy.



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