M is For Masculinity: Milan's Menswear Fashion Week 2014

Milan just wrapped up its fashion week for men a few days ago. From the 10th to the 14th, various designers were able to showcase their distinctive styles as well as present the new trends for the year 2014. There are four major international fashion weeks (called the Big 4) that are held semi annually. These fashion weeks are the following: first is the New York Fashion Week, followed by the London Fashion Week, then Milan Fashion Week and ending with Paris Fashion Week. Since these shows are held semi annually, the first set of runway shows are held in February/March for the autumn/winter season and the spring/summer season shows are held in September/October. While fashion shows represent luxury and exuberance, modeling in these shows may not be as lucrative as it appears. Male models, on average, earn significantly less than their female counterparts since menswear has yet to capture the influence that female fashion yields. On average, models earn between $300-$1000 per show or are paid in trade (through clothes and accessories). Typically, these type of runway shows offer more than just pure cash; they are an opportunity to gain exposure and rub elbows with some of the biggest powerhouses in fashion.

Milan’s Menswear Fashion week is not apart of the Big 4, yet it is considered the first major runway show in 2014, which sets the tone for the year in both menswear and women’s fashion. Some notable celebrities were spotted taking in the shows. Among them are Hayden Panettiere, Ciara, Future and newly released from prison Ja Rule. Furthermore, some stars took part in the festivities; legendary rock group KISS modeled for John Varvatos and rapper Angel Haze performed for Philipp Plein.

Like any other art medium, the fashion world never sleeps. While many are quick to dismiss the fashion industry as extravagant, silly and a waste of time and energy, there is more to fashion than just how a piece of cloth is worn. Every article of clothing, from the knit socks on your feet to the playful hat on your head, is carefully and meticulously designed. Haute couture allows fashion designers to create their works of art in their medium, which happens to be various different fabrics and accessories. In addition, their pieces allow designers to tell a story. For Milan’s Menswear Fashion Week, many stories portray a hero that is powerful, influential, and slightly dangerous. The clothes describe a determined man, a man that is capable of conquering any new challenges in the new year. It is only fitting then, that Milan’s Menswear Fashion Week opens under the influence of masculinity.

Here are the top three designer trends that caught our eye at Milan’s Menswear Fashion Week 2014.

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3 3- Medieval Mayhem (Dolce & Gabbana)

The luxury fashion house, from Italy, presented their vision of winter menswear. Dolce & Gabbana is headed by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. Through the use of warm fabrics, wool and yarns, as well as deep rich colors such as dark blues and purples, the designer duo was able to bring their vision of post-Norman conquest medieval courts to life on the runway. Many of the models wore sheepskin coats and slim trousers. Along with the clothing, they were outfitted with royal accessories from gloves, to tops to even crowns. It’s clear that the crowns and other accessories are used to emphasize the masculine imagery in their pieces. The dark colors with the royal backdrop present a very masculine, dominant picture. Dolce & Gabbana are selling some of the t-shirts from the runway show. Covered with religious iconography, they range from $200-$1 000, many of which are sold out. Featured on the first day of Milan’s Menswear Fashion Week, Dolce & Gabbana definitely opened with a bang.

2 2- Cowboy Bikers or Biker Cowboys? (Versace/ Philipp Plein)

“Our cowboy is macho, he’s a biker…he doesn’t have a horse” the AP is told backstage by Donatella Versace, the head of the Italian label. Denim was a center piece of her menswear collection. They were expertly fitted and sharply tailored with cactus plants and rhinestone made horseshoe accessories. A leather jacket, similar to the one showcased on the runway, would cost nearly $6 000 from Versace. For the full effect of her vision of the ‘western cowboy’, her show included bandana print underwear with leather chaps.

Equally inspired by the imagery of western machismo is Philipp Plein, whose show included many lassos, cowboys as well as saloons. The main article of clothing included motorcycle jackets (approximately $6 500) and crocodile bomber jackets (roughly $85 000) . Along with a mechanical bull and live action gun play between the models, Plein illustrated his vision of a “Noir Cowboy”. The most surprising aspect of his show was having Angel Haze, a female rapper, perform. While the connections between rap and westerns are not conspicuous, both genres experiment with masculine themes of power, control and strength. With their cowboy themed shows, it is clear that both Versace and Plein are visualizing a powerful, dominate persona for menswear in 2014.

1 1- Rocking Rock Stars (John Varvatos)

Making a surprise appearance on the runway, for John Varvatos, is the legendary rock band KISS; the members are huge fans of Varvatos’ work. The show featured tight leather pants, and leather boots. Along with these items, models wore makeup similar to the makeup KISS wears, along with bold statement jackets (worth over $3 000). Using dark colors, many of Varvatos’ works are timeless and seem effortless to create. They present a laidback attitude which seems to suggest that Varvatos is not constrained by “the rules” of haute couture. At the same time, the details that go into his various pieces illustrate how precise and intricate each article of clothing is. The presentation is clear: Varvatos is displaying an image of a carefree man who knows how much power he is exerting by simply walking down the runway.

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