Sunday, January 17, 2010
The first day of shows always brings with it a period of adjustment. In my case, to the most basic of elements: temperature and local time. It was 28 degrees when I left Auckland, two degrees when I started out this morning. Armed with five layers and four hours sleep, I allowed myself to be directed by Australian backstage photographer Sonny Vandevelde to our first show of the week. A quick 28 minute tram ride later (he timed it), we arrived at Ermenegildo Zegna head office, an austere but quite beautiful concrete and glass building on the outskirts of Milan. It took about three minutes for the excitement to kick in.
The first things you spot are the town cars. Chauffeur driven Benzes, Bentleys and Audis. Then the European editors dressed in three quarter length herringbone coats and extravagantly tied scarves, or new season Lanvin cropped blazers. Then the Japanese buyers in their light grey English-with-a-twist Donegal Tweed suits. Then the street style photographers snapping away at all of the above. It's a visual feast.
Bottle green overblazer at Ermenegildo Zegna
Backstage at Zegna, spirits were high. 2010 marks the Italian luxury brand's 100th year in business, and this was the show to kick off proceedings. I snapped a few photos of the boys (Simon Nessman, Lasse Pedersen and Jakob Hybolt and Clement Chabernaud), and shot a little video before heading out to watch the show. It started with perfectly conservative textured suits in charcoals, greys and rich navy. Then came the heavier flannels, 1950s style grey suits paired with overcoats and Fedora hats, and shirts with knitted rollover collars.
The finale at Ermenegildo Zegna
But the best bits were the boiled wool overblazers. Regular blazer length but roomy enough to wear over your suit. Perfect for our low key New Zealand winters. The best colour - bottle green. Scott Scuman (The Sartorialist) called it yesterday when he said that all the cool guys are wearing green as an impact colour here in Italy. And it's my new obsession. The finale featured black and white footage from way back in the Zegna archives - a film showing the manufacturing process of a suit, from sheep to store. It wouldn't surprise me if nothing's changed in 100 years.
Gucci exclusive Nick Rea and his split lip
Outside the show I ran into male model Nick Rea looking a little worse for wear after a club punch up with a PR agent last night. I first met Nick on my ill-fated train ride from Milan to Paris in June when I was robbed of my most prized possessions. I would say the guy breeds bad luck, but he's here in Milan on a Gucci exclusive (meaning he's contracted to do their show and nobody else's) so I can think of worse predicaments to be in.
George Barnett and Jethro Cave backstage at Costume National
Next stop was Costume National, a five minute walk around the corner. As soon as I arrived I saw a commotion on the catwalk and walked over to find Chris Brown posing for photos and taking interviews. I asked for a picture and found him to be both particularly friendly and ridiculously good looking in the flesh. It's not my first run in with an R'n'B star at the shows (last season I saw Usher at Comme Des Garcons), and let's hope it won't be my last.
Jethro Cave with apples
Backstage Jethro Cave (son of Nick Cave) was up to his usual shenanigans, standing behind the food counter juggling apples while the servers watched on, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Jethro is one of the few male models I've met with a truly huge personality. He's always larger than life, no matter what, when, where or why. The only other one like him is English model Ash Stymest, but he's rumoured to be living in LA with film director Gus Van Sant and hasn't been seen thus far at the shows.
Gerhard Friedl in Costume National
Ennio Capasa showed a tight collection of contrasted materials - well worn suits with leather undershirts, woolen coats with fur sleeves and jackets with raw wool edges as if the loom had broken down just before construction was completed. Jethro almost made it through the entire show without incident, until his finale - he skipped at the end of the catwalk. Lord loves a trier.
Sheepskin-lined overcoat at Burberry
Final show of the day was Burberry. My first ever Burberry show. Invitations came in the form of gold plated credit cards. I got lost on the way over with Jak and Jil's Tommy Ton (he swore he knew the street), but arrived with a few minutes to spare. The room was packed with the normal editors plus a boatload of Englishmen who swigged champagne and chatted while The Cure rang through the speakers. I spotted Burberry's latest campaign star (and brother of Hermione) Alex Watson on the catwalk. He sat front row and centre alongside two of the other campaign stars, all dressed in the collection we were about to see.
Tom in a belted trench at Burberry
It lived up to the hype. Coats were the matter at hand, and Christopher Bailey had done just about every type you could imagine - in just about every drab green in the book. Military great coats; gabardine, neoprene and woolen trench coats; sheepskin lined bombers; full sheepskin overcoats; if you can name it, it was probably there. There were even a couple of non-coat looks, my favourite came in the form of an indigo policeman's sweater complete with epaulettes and worn with a scowl by Jakob Hybolt.
Bobby knit at Burberry
When it was all over I rushed backstage and was greeted by the English PR agent who invited me to take a closer look at the clothes. No sheep has ever felt so soft as the one lining the coat I felt up on the rack (it probably came from New Zealand). That's what I call luxury.
Christopher Bailey backstage post-Burberry
Ermenegildo Zegna catwalk photos: The Fashionisto. Costume National and Burberry catwalk photos: GQ.
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