What I learned: Milan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2018

Ten things Esquire's Associate Fashion Editor, Eugene Lim, picked up during Milan Fashion Week.

BY Eugene Lim | Jan 20, 2018 | Fashion

Image from Ermenegildo Zegna / Fall-Winter 18/19 Show in Milan

1. Back to their roots

Instead of an overarching trend that dominated the runways, designers drew inspiration from their heritage, while updating the codes of their house.

2. Nature knows best at Ermenegildo Zegna Couture 

Drawing inspiration from Oasi Zegna, the Alpine nature reserve that surrounds the Zegna castle (yes, they own an honest-to-God castle), creative director Alessandro Sartori proposed a wardrobe for the modern man that showcased the best of both luxurious sportswear and tailoring. 

A big part of the collection featured the double-faced Oasi cashmere — a material that is dyed using only natural ingredients from a process that took five years of innovation to perfect. For example, the chestnut hues in the suit jackets were drawn from bark and tea leaves; the purple shades extracted from the crocus flower; whilst the white in shirting was created from Edelweiss flowers. 

Also, as part of their see-now-buy-now initiative, a range of leather bags and shoes from the runway is now available on and at their Paragon boutique. 

3. Dolce & Gabbana hits the mark with elevated evening wear 

For past two seasons, it was clear that Dolce & Gabbana had their eyes firmly set on the future, tapping influencers as well as children of their VIP customers to walk their runway. It's a formula that made marketing sense, but didn't necessarily resonate with their consumer base. However, for fall/winter 2018, the Italian duo hit the mark with a collection that complimented the personalities they sent down the runway. 

From gold brocade tailcoats to plush jacquard tuxedos, embroidered robes worn with tracksuits to shearling coats paired with graphic T-shirts, there was a certain polish to the ensembles this season that dialled up the luxe factor. With a greater emphasis on elevated evening wear, the fall/winter 2018 drop is more desirable than ever. 

4. Silvia Fendi romanticises the airport

Exploring the idea of travel, designer Silvia Fendi set up her runway like an arrival hall — complete with a fully functional baggage carousel that sent out, amongst other things, monogrammed baby carriages, cardboard boxes held together with Fendi tape, and vintage Fendi briefcases — and then presented a collection that paid tribute to the traditional codes of the house (such as the double F logo emblazoned on fur bucket hats and jackets) whilst also presenting new materials for the modern traveller (including a laminated plaid suit inspired by the plastic jumpsuits worn by cleaners in airplanes).

My favourite accessory? The umbrella hat. When asked about it backstage, Silvia Fendi revealed that she has misplaced countless umbrellas over the years and, by making this hat, she would never lose another umbrella again. Gotta love her sense of humour.

5. Giorgio Armani is always a safe sartorial bet

Streetwear is having a moment, but you gotta grow up at some point. Where do you go if you're after a gorgeous suit minus the stiff shoulders? Giorgio Armani. A master of soft tailoring, the Italian maestro sent out another collection that is equal parts elegance and comfort, but with a military edge. Think: unstructured blazers so soft that they might be mistaken for cardigans paired with slouchy trousers and tucked into boots. Handsome. 

6. Missoni banks on transformable fashion

Channeling '80s New York and the stylish inclinations of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Missoni skipped the usual fashion show this season for an intimate presentation that saw their iconic knits and weaves applied to versatile outwear. Case in point: a shearling pullover and leather trench coat. Both are fully reversible, adding more bang to your buck and giving you more mileage for your Missoni.

7. Milan is Prada's city and we are all living in it

There is no denying that Miuccia Prada rules the Italian fashion capital. Her shows are the most anticipated in town, her collections kickstart trends, and for this Milan men's fashion week, her black and red Prada CloudBust sneaker was the shoe of the season — donning both the feet of street style stars and the fashion cognoscenti.

8. Prada brings back her greatest hits

From the seminal black “Pocone” nylon (that the house developed in the 1980s) reworked into padded workwear jackets, to camp collar shirts and shorts crafted from iconic prints (including the banana print from her women's spring/summer 2011 collection and the flame prints from the women's spring/summer 2012 collection), Mrs Prada presented a retrospective of her greatest hits for fall/winter 2018. Missed out on getting her pieces back then? Here's another chance.

9. Marni invites us to dream again

A prodigy of Miuccia Prada, Francesco Risso’s vision at Marni has grown from strength to strength. For fall/winter 2018, his runway set was an assortment of diverse objects repurposed as seats — books tied up in a bundle, a miniature bumper car, as well as stuffed animals — that all seemed like memories pulled from a childhood long past. The models actually sat with the press and buyers at the beginning of the show before taking their turn on the runway; parading a collection that was a rich tapestry of adult workwear, but seen through the lens of childlike wonderment.

Think: printed slouchy suits, oversized pinstriped shirts with cropped knits, nylon jumpsuits with printed pullovers, and quilted bombers.  

10. Tod’s is more than just a shoe brand

Not satisfied for just being known as a luxury footwear label, Andrea Incontri, the creative director of Tod’s, proffered an elegant and utilitarian wardrobe for fall/winter 201 that saw a cross-pollination of ideas across their footwear and ready-to-wear pieces.

Case in point: Suede used in the Tod's Gommino shoe was applied to jackets, whilst shearling found in classic ready-to-wear winter coats was transplanted into loafers and boots. So whether you wear Tod's on your feet, or on your back, their structured yet soft construction makes them ideal companions for the modern man on-the-go.