MILAN – Midway through the four-day menswear preview showings, it was clear that Italian designers are looking ahead to a bright summer in 2013.
Bold shades of blue, red, yellow and green, plus pink, orange, turquoise and lime, light up the current runway, bursting into color like fireworks on the 4th of July. Monochromatic, two-tone, fluorescent or metallic, they give extra pep to a classic suit, a blazer or a pair of cotton slacks.
The only designers so far to have shied from the new color movement are Dolce&Gabbana who preferred Sicilian black and Tomas Maier for Bottega Veneta who stuck to conservative brown and blue.
But Maier embraced the craze for floral and geometric prints, which have shown up everywhere. However, he dimmed the effect, covering his large floral prints with a film of delicate organza, a usually feminine fabric.
The overall summer silhouette is on the casual side, with slim but not tight-fitting pants, a comfortable fit for jackets and lightweight outerwear including raincoats, bomber jackets and wind breakers.
While the colors are bold, the fabrics are light from cotton to silk to the see-through organza.
Bags are big and roomy, and usually come with a shoulder strap for easier carrying.
Footwear is sporty, with the rebirth of the sneaker and simple training shoe, often in bright fluorescent shades. There are also sturdy leather sandals and classic lace-ups, updated with colorful soles.
Miuccia Prada always puts together a great show.
The designer's latest collection presented Sunday evening, the second day of preview showings for summer 2013 menswear, was happy, snappy and just minimalist enough to insure the label's reputation as the most avant-garde maison of Italian fashion.
Young lads and mature men walked down the sloped, pristine white runway wearing nothing more than revisited track suits.
Prada created an entire collection and a brand new look, starting with the white-band theme of sportswear items.
First, she put the white bands on the inside instead of outside of a trouser leg, then she accentuated the same white band for the neckline of the accompanying T-shirt top. Like musical variations on a theme, the imaginative designer worked the bands into different components of her summer wardrobe from shirts to jackets to overcoats. As the show went on, the bands changed color and became ever larger, culminating in a two-tone effect for a simple polo shirt or the lapel of a jacket.
Meanwhile, the white band also showed up under the arm of a lightweight raincoat or became the cross strap of a flat leather sandal.
Not satisfied to limit the new inventions to the male population, Prada put together a his-and-her version of most of the outfits.
For the girls, however, the T-shirts came in luxurious dyed fur. All the female models wore a tennis band around their head to accentuate the sporty feel of the collection.
The new Prada bag is unisex. Big and boxy, it can be carried by hand and double as an overnighter.
The latest Bottega Veneta collection is inspired by the pullover — or as creative director Tomas Maier puts it — "a top that you pull over your head."
In his fashion notes for the summer 2013 menswear collection, the designer points out that the pullover is a universal piece that can be found in both traditional and contemporary cultures.
What Maier fails to add is that a Bottega Veneta pullover is not just any pullover. The designer puts into this seemingly simple attire the manufacturing expertise, the fabric and the attention to detail which make the difference.
Many of his summer pullovers are actually tunics. They come in light wool or cotton silk and casually caress the body, giving the impression of effortless elegance. Sometimes these tunics are worn with comfortable cropped trousers; at other times their hemline hangs down from under the jacket of a cotton suit.
Many of this season's Bottega Veneta shirt/pullovers have a lace-up front reminiscent of frontier buckskin garb, especially when they come in super-soft suede and are paired with fringed ankle boots. A V-neck cashmere pullover has side-seam zips for extra freedom.
The summer silhouette is sporty without losing its class. Jackets and trousers have a classic fit. Colors — unlike the garish shades seen on a number of the current menswear runways — are calm tones of brown, from beige to tobacco, or a quiet series of blues.
Maier also leaves loud prints to his colleagues, preferring a delicate floral print which fades into the fabric of his jackets and pullovers or makes up the fabric of a suit or pair of pants, veiled with a subtle layer of organza.
The renowned Bottega Veneta bags on this round are extra large and come in functional brown leather, with an elongated strap so that they can be worn across the body. It all looks so simple, and yet somehow no other designer can carry off the intricate workmanship behind the collection with such nonchalance.
Donatella Versace has always put up a good fashion fight.
For next summer she outfits a man facing today's tough world with clothes fit for an ancient Roman arena.
"The new gladiators are the young. I would like to see them fighting for a goal," she told reporters ahead of her Saturday night show, which closed the first day of menswear preview showings in Milan for summer 2013.
The designer opened the show with a bare-chested model sporting a gilded warrior belt, wrestling trunks and high-laced centurion sandals fashioned in contemporary sneaker fabric.
Throughout the show, Versace came back to the gladiator theme, decorating T-shirts and tunics with gilded embroidery, pairing the centurion sandal with evening wear and offering the Roman-inspired boxer robe as a lightweight overcoat.
When she wasn't in the combat arena, Versace drew inspiration from the Memphis Group — the 1980s furniture movement which opted for a colorful style in contrast to conventional home furnishings.
She used famous graphic prints to liven up classic suits as well as summer shirts and tote bags.