Milan Fashion Week: Valentino challenges masculine notions


The cries of adoring fans filled the air as stars like actor Jacob Elordi and Italian singer Elodie arrived for the Valentino show, which opened Milan Fashion Week menswear previews on Friday.

The Milan menswear calendar was missing some mainstays, but the return of Valentino’s menswear for this season kicked off the week with high energy. American performer d4vd provided a live soundtrack from the center stage, pumping music into the colonnaded courtyard of Milan’s state university.

Students, taking a break from their regular class schedule, watched from beneath the colonnade, while the fashion crowd tented showing notes on their heads to protect from the beating sun — many regretting dressing in black.

The show was a homecoming of sorts for the French-owned Italian brand: Fashion house founder Valentino Garavani staged his first menswear runway show in Italy’s fashion capital in 1985, and regularly showed menswear in Milan until his retirement in 2008.

Some highlights from Friday’s show of mostly menswear previews for next spring and summer:


Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli’s collection for next summer is rooted in tailoring with some feminine flair, seen in softening colors and flowing shapes. But it was the floral detailing that lifted the collection.

The suit is the bedrock look, starting with monochromes in white: jacket, shirt, tie and a thigh-revealing Bermuda short. Black footwear, socks and accessories ensured the urban edge.

The shorts were sometimes transformed into a skirt. And tailored bottoms — short, pant or skirt — could be paired with a shirt, boxy top or a silken V-neck with contrasting ties that billowed in the welcome breeze.

Floral notes elevate the looks, like forever boutonnieres giving life to garments in sequins, appliques, embroidery and graphic prints — never the same. From white and then black, the color palette exploded into fuchsia and pink, red and royal blue, with notes of gray, always in clean, studied monochromes.

The fashion house announced a donation to the university for scholarships for the next academic year. It also said it is working with a company to recycle, reuse or resell runway materials, and it is planting trees in Milan’s Public Gardens, close to Valentino’s Milan offices.


Dean and Dan Caten, the Canadian twins behind the DSquared2 label, unabashedly mixed 1980s teen innocence with a pornographic twist for their own take on risky business.

The designers took preppy scholastic cues, like argyle knits, sports jerseys and basketball shorts, and glammed them up with crystals, sequins and lace, for him or for her.

Summer was signified in the skin-baring ultra-mini skirts and shorts were mini, while T-shirts were cropped and sometimes shredded.

The casting summed up the collection’s risque ambitions: Italian porn star and director Rocco Siffredi flashed the photo risers, opening his jeans to show briefs with an X-rated image. Actress and model Julia Fox wore a white slip dress with a pretty ruffle hem and a large shell necklace. A lobster pin cinched a tight black dress that showed off Spanish supermodel Esther Canada’s legs and torso.

“When you find hotness on your menu, you are at DSquared,” Dean Caten said merrily after the show.


People are back out and enjoying themselves in the post-pandemic world “even more than before,” said German designer Philipp Plein.

From the perch of his three-brand group with 100 stores worldwide, Plein says the post-pandemic boom showed a slight dip in May and his conclusion: “People are spending on travel and to enjoy life, rather than on clothing.”

Plein is part of a trend that includes a full calendar of events. He hosted an Oscar party at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival and a slew of invitation-only fashion events, confirming that the luxury client, by and large, wants to be courted with in-the-flesh experiences.

Billionaire, Plein’s luxury menswear brand, unveiled its latest collection during Milan Fashion Week, with novelties including a 24-hour jersey suit, allowing the well-traveled man to emerge from an overnight flight looking fresh and meeting-ready in a soft double-face silhouettes. Plein also included two denim looks, confirming a trend toward familiar comfort.

“They are not treated, washed or destroyed,” Plein said, adding that his super-luxury consumer isn’t super adventurous, looking for classic looks with a new twist.