MILAN (AP) -- Designers are offering alternative realities for men next winter.
Yes, tailored suits and overcoats, the staples of any wardrobe, have their place on the runways on the second day of Milan Fashion Week on Sunday.
But designers also are recognizing men's need to escape their urban workaday worlds and get in touch with nature. They don't go so far as to offer outdoor clothing, per se. But there is more than a smattering of short hooded parkas worn over suits and with backpacks that suggest some other destination after the office. And many collections feature athletic trousers, often knit, with elastic or drawstring waistlines and gathered cuffs.
Milan Fashion Week runs through Tuesday.
Bottega Veneta creative director Tomas Maier's details startle with their subtlety.
The quiet bronze plaid jacket appears to have had its hemline dipped in electric blue dye that gently fades at the edge. An argyle pattern is knitted on a bias. The asymmetrical neckline of a soft pullover hugs a shoulder, giving the effect of one-sided shrug.
Some of the details in the menswear collection for next fall and winter have feminine antecedents, like a broad scooped neckline on a sweater, but the overall feel of the collection was decidedly masculine, defined by an athletic silhouette.
"The collection is about versatility and ease," Maier said in notes.
Many of the trousers taper to ribbed cuff, mimicking active wear, and worn often with a bomber jacket and heavy shoes. Two tone knit caps tucked under the ears finish the look with a bit of whimsy. Dark neutral colors dominate.
Bottega Veneta started as a leather goods company, and Maier exploits the tradition with a cross-body satchel that is clutched under the arm, as are large shoppers often in the fashion house's trademark weave.
Italian fashion house Salvatore Ferragamo's menswear collection for fall took traditional male staples like jean jackets and trench coats and re-worked them in earthy colors blended with just a hint of ethnic or nomadic pattern.
Long wool trench coats in tan were splashed with bands of sesame and chocolate. Jackets and even suits were sprinkled with stripes or patterns lifted from Native American blankets, keeping things interesting. Peacoats and military jackets came in an unexpected pale mint green.
The collection by designer Massimiliano Giornetti made stunning use of leather, as befits a house which began as a shoemaker to the Hollywood stars in the 1920s.
Boots with thick soles and a strap around the ankle came in different color variations, including a deep blue, and looked great with both suits and less formal looks. Short little jean jackets came in leather or pony skin. But for a house that makes its bread and butter from accessories, there were few bags on the runway except for hefty-looking large totes perfect for a weekend getaway.
John Richmond has had skirts in his personal wardrobe since his youth, or as the designer put it, "before everyone started doing it."
In fact, it is a skirt from Richmond's own closet that was worn by a bare-chested male model on the 1984 cover of British magazine The Face, which has earned a place in fashion history.
Notice he doesn't call them kilts. This is no Scottish fetish.
"It is more punk-associated," Richmond said backstage after the premier of his winter 2015 collection, which included knee-length skirts with front pleats layered with a man's suit in matching fabric, a novel variation of the three-piece suit.
Richmond concedes the skirt is not for everyone, but for the few who are willing to give it a go, he doesn't see a risk to their masculinity.
"I don't think that guys look feminine wearing a skirt. They look really cool," he said.
The overall mood of the collection was decidedly masculine, with leather white-on-black bomber jackets, quilted jackets with leather pants, pullover sweatshirts with optical flair and sartorial suits in checks and stripes.
At the end of the show, Richmond's 3-year-old son Lou joined him for a hug.
London-based Italian designer Angelo Galasso is bullish on Milan.
Galasso sees so much potential in Milan's retail market that he is moving his store this winter, tripling its size just 2 ½ years after opening in Milan and five years after launching the eponymous brand. While most shoppers at Galasso's Milan store are foreign tourists, the designer says his Italian clientele is growing and often spends in equal measure to his foreign followers.
"Italians are tired, and it is not just because the economy is not doing well, but also of their wardrobes," Galasso said. He senses Italian men are ready to burst beyond the classic blazer and find less repetitive looks.
Galasso's collection for next winter includes tailored jackets with wide lapels made from printed tie fabric or velvet, and worn with ripped jeans -- giving both a dandy and a 1970s vibe.
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