Jan 16, 2023
The third day of Milan Fashion Week Men was marked by two major debuts. In the late morning on Sunday, Marco De Vincenzo unveiled his first menswear collection for Etro. Then, at the end of the day, British label Charles Jeffrey Loverboy made its highly acclaimed debut on the Milanese catwalks.
After designing a first, well-received womenswear collection last September, Etro’s new creative director Marco De Vincenzo has made his first foray into menswear, drawing on the Italian luxury label’s textile heritage. Softly, he has refashioned Etro’s menswear, refreshing its style with a delicately romantic touch.
“I wanted to pay tribute to the [Etro] family, starting with fabrics, which are indelibly linked with the company’s history. Few know it, but Etro’s business began with tartan fabrics. Over the course of six months, I immersed myself in [Etro’s] archives, blending this rich heritage with my own vision,” De Vincenzo told FashionNetwork.com. He had the great idea of unveiling the collection inside a huge hangar, brimming with fabric rolls and hundreds of sample swatches coming straight from the label’s warehouses.
The first look featured a cosy throw morphing into a coat with geometric patterns. Elsewhere, a military green upholstery fabric with gold stripes was used to fashion an office suit, while a coat and a bolero jacket were styled from a piece of tapestry. De Vincenzo then showed a series of suits made from beautiful tartan fabrics, featuring elegant double-breasted jackets and sleek flared trousers, as well as maxi kilts layered over jeans. He played again with contrasts, superimposing the large checks of a throw-like coat with the smaller ones of matching trousers in the same hues. Also noteworthy were the wonderful felt and fabric clogs with studded wooden soles which will delight fashionistas.
De Vincenzo’s more personal touch was visible in a few superb sweaters, either embroidered with fruit motifs or featuring a wave-like optical effect with colour gradations. “Etro’s new menswear combines a cosy, domestic private feel with a more eccentric public style. For example, an evening-out look will be enhanced by an embroidered belt. There’s a romantic touch, there are flowers and light,” said De Vincenzo.
Seated in the front row, the whole Etro family applauded, visibly spellbound, from patriarch and founder Gerolamo (Gimmo) to his children Veronica, Ippolito, Jacopo and Kean. In 2021, they sold a 60% stake in their label to L Catterton, the investment fund co-founded by luxury giant LVMH. “Marco has a lot of respect. His menswear is interesting and deeply connected to our history,” said Kean, who until recently was in charge of the label’s men’s collections. Kean underlined that when the firm was founded in 1968, “Etro wasn’t a manufacturer, but a fabric curator, sourcing yarns in India and China and then having its own fabrics and designs produced in Italy, acting as supplier to the labels of the time.”
Charles Jeffrey Loverboy “celebrates workers, the Renaissance and Scotland”
Change of scenery with Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, which plunged its audience into a dark engine room. Strange characters emerged from a thick mist, their faces blackened by soot, caps on their heads, arms protected by huge foundry gloves, some of them holding a lantern like those used by coal miners in days gone by. They were dressed in loose grey suits, a fresh take on traditional menswear codes. The looks are initially rather sombre, but soon give way to a blaze of exuberant colours, patterns and prints.
“For my arrival in Milan, a hard-working industrial city quite similar to my hometown Glasgow, I wanted to celebrate workers, the Renaissance and Scotland,” said Charles Jeffrey at the end of the show, a tear in his eye, visibly moved by his maiden appearance in Milan, where he was treated to a standing ovation. “The idea was to show a story unfolding, as in a film. It’s something of an allegory for what is happening in the world right now,” he added.
The collection showcases a series of colourful characters, each with its own distinct traits. Charles Jeffrey’s native Scotland was referenced in the ubiquitous tartan prints featured on tights, socks, shoes, jackets, tops and kilts. Also in the gilets, knitwear and jacquard sweaters in Shetland wool with the renowned Fair Isle pattern. Scotland’s typical tartan motif was also revisited in a few vinyl items with large checks, and others with stylised checks.
Another influence that added an extra layer of extravagance was that of Anglo-American comics author and illustrator John Byrne, whose wacky psychedelic drawings have been printed on magnificent coats and suits enhanced with gold-toned accessories, from shoes to bags and tops.
After a progressive crescendo of colours, from intense ochre yellow to royal blue and poppy red, a protester streak emerged, signalled by leather looks and items made in newsprint-like fabric with glaring headlines warning of the climate emergency. Charles Jeffrey fully intends to make his voice heard in Milan for a few seasons to come.
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