MILAN, Jan 20, 2009 / FW/ — The second day of the Milan menswear season is proving to be very strong; hence it is ironic that in this city where the biggest fashion stars unveil their collections, we are in dire need of a star that can eclipse them all. And the irony of ironies, it is actually the best place to look for that megastar!
Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune wrote, Prada’s Fall 2009 menswear collection “may well define the international menswear season with its tailoring, calf-length, unlined coat in contrast to the short, boxy shape on other runways.” This statement alone demonstrates the far reaching influence of Miuccia Prada as a designer.
So, why can’t Miuccia Prada be the ‘star’ that we are looking for? Because she also designs womenswear and though it is hard to imagine for non-fashionistas, Miuccia Prada’s influence as a womenswear designer is more far reaching than menswear.
Hedi Slimane, the last reigning king of menswear had been out of the picture for sometime. Strangely enough, there are rumors that he will be shooting and styling (or had he done it already) the latest ad campaign for Prada. No one had replaced Hedi’s rock star status on menswear and his legacy – the pencil thin silhouettes for men’s clothing reverberates until now.
Giorgio Armani once wore that crown, the time that he dressed up Richard Gere in the now classic movie ‘American Gigolo’. But, that was a different time, a different era. It was 1980 and the internet was barely in its infancy; it would be a decade before the Net Generation would be born.
As I’ve already said before, Giorgio Armani will go down in history as one of the most prolific and most influential designers of the 20th century. His suits will continue to be the standard for a very long time, his innovations will be studied and copied, but Giorgio Armani will not be a hero to the buster-sword-wielding crowd or the head-banging Guitar Hero of the Net Generation.
Don’t get me wrong; the Italian design maestro’s sportive collection for Emporio Armani is a crowd pleaser, especially the skiing gear at the end. It is something that the twenty-something generation, who has an affinity for extreme sports will love. But, Giorgio Armani had has time on the throne and he had passed on the scepter a long time ago.
And that brings us to Roberto Cavalli, who has always been associated with the rock star look and can easily morph into Guitar Hero whose personas are actually based on real rock bands. Will the Florentine designer take the time to woo the digital crowd whose fathers are in the same age group as he is?
Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi at Gianfranco Ferré presented a collection that is reminiscent of Hedi Slimane’s Dior Homme. Are they going to be the new menswear stars? Truth is, they have more than their hands full right now. The legacy of Gianfranco Ferré is a heavy burden bear even for these talented designers. With the late Ferré having a bigger than life status while he was still alive, now that he is gone, it is not surprising that he has been elevated to fashion sainthood.
At Salvatore Ferragamo, the label’s current creative director Massimiliano Giornetti is so entrenched with the house’s history on accessories, becoming the Shoemaker of the Net Generation might be what the heirs of Salvatore Ferragamo want instead of becoming its new hero.
The same goes for Belstaff. Tradition and history are so important to Belstaff that since the label started unveiling its collection in Milan, it has never strayed far from its
And that brings us to Neil Barrett whose eponymous label has caught the attention of the 18 – 49 year-old demographics. Sharp tailoring with androgynous tendencies, the British born designer can easily be the favorite wardrober of the Net Generation. Cloud Strife can easily fit in Neil Barrett’s clothes while the Guitar Heroes just need to walk into his shop. Question is, will Neil Barrett want the job?
And for those who needs to understand Cloud Strife and Guitar Hero, please watch the short clips below.
Why does menswear need a mega star? Because the upcoming generation needs someone they can relate to. Past generations had Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. All these brands are still active, but Yves Saint Laurent and Gianni Versace are both gone while Calvin Klein had retired.
Both Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren are still designing and both are household names like everyone in the list. But, they are giving more and more of their designing duties to their assistants and heirs.
And while all these names are well known, strangely enough, the Net Generation, the most informed group to ever come of age cannot relate to anyone of them. That’s why menswear needs a superstar, someone that these young men can identify with and the rest will just fall in place.