If Italian duo Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana took inspiration from the Mafia for their Autumn/Winter 2010-2011 line, Giorgio Armani played with geometry on the first day of the Milan Fashion Week for menswear, which kicked off on Saturday.
British house Burberry, meanwhile, paid tribute to its heritage with trench coats, parkas and aviator-style jackets, while Ermenegildo Zegna presented a mainly dark blue, green and grey line of suits, duvet-like coats and knit-collared polo necks.
The menswear market has not been spared by the economic turmoil and with the financial sector hit hard, suit and tie sales have suffered.
Turnover for Italian menswear is seen falling nearly 10 per cent to €8.3 billion (Dh43.8bn) in 2009, according to industry body Sistema Moda Italia (SMI).
The shows, which set the tone for next winter's fashion, come amid hopes for a recovery in the crisis-hit luxury sector.
Dolce and Gabbana said they were inspired by Baaria, a big-budget, sentimental sweep through 20th century Sicily – also Dolce's birthplace – taking in fascism, war, communism and the Mafia. They presented a mainly black, white and grey line, sending out models wearing knits over trousers that narrowed at the bottom, against a screen backdrop showing scenes of Baaria.
Vests were tucked into black washed-out jeans or long-john type trousers and shorts. White shirts were sleek and tucked into jeans or black trousers. They accessorised the look with black caps and boots.
Screens also showed the scene backstage. The duo have been sharing their show preparations via their online magazine Swide, at www.swide.com.
Giorgio Armani turned to geometry for his Emporio Armani line, which was streamed on the brand's website – live.emporioarmani.com – and the group's Facebook page.
He played with shapes – squares, triangles and circles – as patterns and put zips on gilets and overcoats, presenting a structured silhouette with slim trousers worn under jackets with defined shoulders and accessorised with boots.
His line was mainly in different shades of grey, which he called a "recurrent reference to the urban mood, the landscape of the big city" with odd flashes of fluorescent colours.
The designer also presented a new line of sportshoes – a collaboration between his sportsline EA7 and Reebok.
Burberry, which also streamed its show on live.burberry.com, paid tribute to its heritage with trench coats, parkas, aviator-style jackets, all worn over slim trousers that were tucked into boots.
A military theme emerged with cropped military jackets, shirts, military-style belts and boots. The line was a mix of military green, khaki, indigo, black and mustard.
"I wanted us to have a point of view. I think there is such chaos in the world and I feel it is the moment for brands, companies, designers to have integrity and stand for something," said CEO Christopher Bailey.
Milan is renowned for its men's tailored suits and leather shoes.
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