MILAN, Italy - The fall-winter 2010-2011 preview presentations, the first shows of the year, got underway over the weekend with a new fashion passion: live online showcasing.
Gone are the days when house bouncers, trained to spot potential copycats, blocked any unauthorized person who dared snap a picture during a show.
Today's fast-moving media world, using such accounts as Youtube and Facebook, as well as their own sites, designers are encouraging real-time runway interest.
On Saturday both Emporio Armani and Burberry Prorsum ran their shows live on the internet, while Dolce&Gabbana posted a preview of the collection several days ago on their site. Burberry also opened the show to blogging and comments via Twitter.
Dolce and Gabbana also ran a live backstage video on screens on either side of the runway, while the show was going on, as well as projecting scenes from the movie "Baaria" by Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore on a mega-screen, to underline the Sicilian theme of the collection, all available on their website.
Miuccia Prada plans to enhance the presentation of her latest menswear with a film by video artist Yang Fudong, which will also be available online on the Prada Web site.
Judging from the weekend shows, the look for next winter promises to be snug and wooly with the accent on sportswear. Outfits tend to be cut close to the body, with short and slim trousers and tight-fitting jackets. Along with flannel, many fabrics are soft and velvety. Colors are strictly reminiscent of fall from the dark greys to the rich browns and greens, perked up by an occasional red or shining yellow.
Bulky sweaters are a favourite look, but so are tight-fitting pullovers, and even winter T-shirts. Footwear is definitely sturdy; hairstyles, wavy.
What immediately catches the eye is the scarcity of evening wear, usually a strong point of Italian menswear.
The packed, but short four-day ready-to-wear fashion week features more than 40 shows including such top names in international fashion as Armani, Versace, Dolce&Gabbana, Gucci, Prada, Ferre, and Bottega Veneta.
Following are some of the weekend shows:
Emporio Armani - Saturday afternoon
Recovering from a liver ailment and looking much better than he did during the last round of menswear last June, Giorgio Armani presented an energetic second-line collection which was based on urban grey, livened up by brash flashes of fluorescent yellow, green and pink.
The basic silhouette sticks close to the body with a narrow trouser and a sharp-lapeled jacket. The collection is full of high-tech details such as bold zips and clicks replacing buttons to fasten jackets, overcoats and vests.
To celebrate their 20 years in menswear, the designing duo Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce went back to do what to them comes naturally - create a contemporary look with a yesteryear Sicilian twist.
"The time for fluff and bubbles is over," Stefano Gabbana said in a chat with reporters before the show, noting that what is needed in today's fashion world, still reeling from the economic downturn, is "true and authentic" clothing.
And what could be more authentic than the workers' sleeveless cotton undershirts, worn by 90 muscle-bound models for the show's grand finale. Matched with caps, craftily dusted heavy footwear and velvet sweat pants, the look was very real. It was the same look that had marked the designers' debut in menswear two decades ago.
Bottega Veneta - Sunday morning
True to the current accent on sportswear, Bottega Veneta's Creative Director Tomas Maier, presented a show which was outdoorsy without losing the urban elegance of the hand-crafted leather goods label.
Trousers in flannel, corduroy or leather are slim and tapered, worn with a cropped boxy jacket.
Colours are reminiscent of a multicoloured pile of raked leaves, with a luxurious velvet fall melange for the elegant dinner jackets. Except for the occasional pair of loafers, footwear is sturdy, of the macho motorcycle type.
In typical Bottega Veneta fashion, detail makes the difference. A scarf, a bolo tie, white socks or an antique silver ring, tell the tale of a man who knows what he wants, and is comfortable in creating his own style.
The latest musts in the leather closet are an old-fashioned hard leather suitcase, and a double-pocketed back pack.