Fashion: Suits you, signore

There are no trends in menswear. As the Milan shows proved, it's only the details that change.

Milan harbours the most popular menswear labels in the world. Ask any man to name their ultimate label and chances are Prada, Miu Miu, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Versace and Calvin Klein will be on the list. If not, perhaps Jil Sander, Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, Issey Miyake or John Richmond make the grade. All show in Milan where, in the last five days, the most important event in the men's fashion calendar, the autumn/winter 1999/2000 collections - unofficially dubbed Millennium Men - has been taking place.

Let's get one thing clear. Men's fashion is not about big trends. There are no rising or falling hemlines here, no hair or make-up looks, no question of flat or high shoes, just (for the most part) fabulous clothes. What trends there are don't happen overnight, rather they evolve gradually season-on-season. As everyone who's anyone told me throughout the week: it's all in the details, the fabrics, the feel. A suit is a suit, after all. David Bradshaw of Arena - he's also fashion consultant to Prada - explained: "These shows help men make the decision of which black suit to buy. All the fashion forward detailing is in the sportswear, and this helps to sell the suits because, for obvious reasons, the suit can't change much." Except, of course, in the details.

One of the most prominent fashion "details" of the last few seasons has been the Velcro fastening. It continues to pop up on everything from tailored suits, shirts and coats to trainers, as well as on sportswear, where it belongs. For autumn/winter, however, the practical, no-fluff-collecting zip looks set to make a welcome return. Jil Sander's padded body-warmer zipped up to a funnel neck (funnel necks on everything is another important detail), as did her shirts. At Issey Miyake the arctic outerwear - big, greeny-grey parkas, huge white Puffas, and combats - featured industrial zips. At the hot new American label Richard Edwards, a padded army green body-warmer had zip-on-zip-off arms, while an army green coat had a zip- out lining. At Costume National, zips were used to conceal hoods within the collars of tailored suits.

A shift in colour palette was also in evidence: from mainly white and grey for the coming summer, to mainly black and grey (yep, it's still there), with dashes of bright colour thrown in for good measure. Tomato red was given a good airing at Gucci and Costume National in shiny hide jackets, at Jil Sander in knitwear, and at Prada. Orange was the strong colour of choice at John Richmond. Dirty army green and shades of beige and cream and navy were also popular across the board. Versus went for baby pink and brown together, and Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier went all out for colour.

This season has proved to be special because of the millennium issue and each designer addressed the "what to wear for the party to end all parties" in their own way. Almost every show included a tuxedo, or modern tuxedo derivative. Gucci's tuxedo pants were glamorous in white or black with red piping along the outside leg, and worn with shiny pony-skin biker-inspired jackets. Issey Miyake's was traditional. Giorgio Armani's was James Bond slick. Cerruti's was for a modern-day Sacha Distel, buttoned low for a laid-back look. Gaultier's appeared to be hand-knitted. Dirk Bikkemberg's was in leather. Dolce & Gabbana's was slim and mafia sexy and Versace's was aggressive, raunchy and very rock'n' roll.

The common denominator in all of these suits was their shape; unanimously single breasted jackets with flat-front pants, many of which were straight and loose through the leg. And that takes care of the black suits, which has incidentally made the store buyers very happy. Damian Shaw, the contemporary menswear buyer from Liberty, had a few important check-points for his buying strategy - the first, if it's black it sells; the second, leg shape. Too baggy is bad. So is too straight. And they must look good on the bum. Gucci, Bikkembergs, Prada and Costume National scored there.

Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier provided the fun millennial party gear. Westwood showed silver and gold sequin pants tucked into knee-high boots and ring-master jackets with military detailing, yet amongst the high camp there was softly coloured spearmint and chocolate knitwear, moleskin pants and tweed suits. She scored with her tartan kilt-shirt-tie-and-knee-high-sock ensembles, which managed to look manly even in raspberry and lilac. Gaultier, too, included his signature kilts, but his showpiece, a sequin-embroidered biker jacket with 1999/2000 worked into the arms, was a definite camp winner.

There were plenty of fashion trends that have been creeping up on sartorially motivated men for some time now. Chunky, shrunken-to-the-body multi-ply hand knits - many in soft cashmere - looked fantastic in the McQueen line, at Costume National, and especially at Dolce & Gabbana. Biker motifs were also strong. Embroidery, shine and sequins were in evidence across the board, done best at Dolce & Gabbana on army T-shirts, on tanks at Gaultier, and on the worn-in jeans at Gucci which were held up with a rope belt and worn with velvet tuxedo jackets.

Macho furs made a somewhat disturbing impact on the proceedings. Versace went for wolf as coat linings, on collars and trouser edging. Gucci and Gaultier did fur biker jackets. Dolce & Gabbana did full-length mink pants, while Prada showed a fur sports jacket with a face-protecting hood. Trussardi, the worst offender, used beaver, wolf, crocodile and snake.

If only it were fake. These items may never make it into British shops, a fact the Italians are aware of, but not bothered by. Indeed the English attitude to fur is laughed at by foreigners, who think we're prissy. Perhaps someone should send them on an educational trip to a fur farm.

If, come autumn, the average male is rushing out to buy his black suit, more fashion-conscious men might be distracted by sportswear. In fact, this has been the biggest single revolution in men's fashion this decade. As Nick Sullivan, the associate editor of Arena, pointed out after the perfectly executed hit-of-the-season Prada show, "Five years ago everyone here [male editors and buyers] would have been wearing suits, now look at them." Indeed, a look at the fashion pack is a good indicator of things as they stand.

There's a black suit worn with Prada red-line sneakers and a big parka with a fur hood over there; a funnel-neck, snow-white jumper, tailored trousers and sneakers over here; a body-warmer with combat pants and boots to my right. Sullivan is sure the sportswear thing is at its height now. "When even the most conservative of designers are doing elements of luxury sportswear it is a sure sign a change will be in the air. But the Italians are best at it. After seeing the Prada show you think, yes, it's got mileage," he says.

Louisa de Paula, the contemporary menswear buyer for Selfridges, was in agreement."Menswear now is about uniform dressing. I call it `Subconscious Millennial Dressing'," she says. "Men have totally changed the way they dress in the last 10 years. Now there are no rules. Function and utility looks have become the norm."

Indeed the Prada show summed up the mood of the collections perfectly. So here are a few tips. Boots are ankle or midcalf in tough, toffee- coloured leather. Tailoring is slim and hard, in grey, desert khaki, army green and black. Car coats and duffels are hooded, with padded elbows. Long padded coats are belted in, and pants are cropped. The Prada Sport line included waterproofs, sneakers, bags and hats - all of which had "must- have" stamped all over them. But you'll have to wait until September to buy them - sorry.

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders