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Milan designers invoke joy, nostalgia in menswear

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A model wears a creation as part of the Versace men's Spring Summer 2023 collection presented in Milan, Italy, Saturday, June 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

MILAN (AP) — Denim, fringe and chunky rubber sliders. These are the elements of next year’s summer wardrobe emerging from the second day Saturday of Milan Fashion Week menswear previews.

Temperatures in Milan were unusually high and the fashion crowd scooted from show to show with the thermometer topping 34 C (93 F) and forecast to keep getting hotter in the coming days. That makes linen an easy sell, but less so for the leather and even fur making appearances on Milan's Spring-Summer 2023 runways.

Milan fashion houses Fendi, Emporio Armani and Dolce&Gabbana sought to invoke joy with collections that beckoned a return to leisure and some notes of nostalgia. Highlights from Saturday’s shows:

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VERSACE’S BAROQUE POP

Versace is reaching out to the next generation, reinventing the brand’s iconic Medusa in animated versions that seem to come to life as repeating patterns on silks. Call it pop Baroque.

Donatella Versace returned to menswear with a fun and inventive collection, full of color and verve, shown in the courtyard of the fashion house’s central Milan headquarters. Mirrored pillars swirled to life, casting images of classical statuary.

In tune with the younger generation’s concern with the planet, Versace substituted exotic skins with python prints featuring neon accents, appearing as trenches or trousers, grounded by oversized pinstriped accent pieces. Leather-looks styled out of eco-sustainable latex were well ventilated with a repeating diamond pattern.

Bright salmon, lemon yellow and orange gave pop to the exaggerated silhouettes that included silken shirts featuring the gleeful next generation Versace classic bust icons.

The new Versace man mixes design media, keeping close prized possessions from the Versace Home collection: carrying a precious urns, dangling a teacup from his belt, wearing a spoon bent into a bracelet.

Driving home the target audience, the runway featured the sons of classic Versace models like Mark Vanderloo, Helena Christensen and Carla Bruni.

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COUNTY OF MILAN TAKES A VICTORY LAP

Marcelo Burlon celebrated the 10th anniversary of his County of Milan label with an inclusive outdoor runway show on an athletic stadium track.

The location linked to the brand’s street-wear roots, opening with a graphic peace sign on an oversized sweatshirt and quickly switching mood to a pastel patchwork jacket and cinch-waist trouser combo for him or for her.

Burlon says he likes to call his collection “urban staples for grown-ups.”

Burlon’s models covered a broader than usual rage of ages, from a young girl in a dark suit with the brand’s feather motif detailing, to a gray-haired male model in a bright matching and clashing patchwork tunic and trousers topped with a suit jacket.

“I have always thought of myself as a cultural wander, with a growing network of creative cool people, and that includes people of all ages, and from all backgrounds,’’ Burlon said. “I guess you could say my target is a contemporary melting pot.”

Italian Olympic gold medal sprinter Olympian Marcell Jacobs walked the show wearing a blue workman’s coverall. At the end of the show, the victory lap went to Burlon.

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FRINGE AT FENDI

Silvia Venturini Fendi created earthy, grounded looks for a planet-conscious generation in shades that ranged from soothing chambray to hearty ochres, merging into a new motif created from images of swirling weather patterns of planet Earth.

The collection carried some nostalgia for more innocent times, from fraying hems on jeans to soft seams on denim bags, embroidery accents that recall beaded daisy chains and long, lush tassels on moccasins. Bucket hats are cut out for a visor feel, while knit cloches sport brims. Chunky rubber slip-ons were emblazoned with the inverted double-F logo.

For an easy day look, denim trousers were worn with knitwear in matching tones, accompanied by faded denim Fendi shoppers with a long, fringe crossbody strap. For the beach, there were short shorts in linen with soft zipped jackets and sturdy-soled slip-on loafers. On the more dressy end, roomy Bermuda’s shorts in cream paired with a camel jacket and ochre zipper back, with the cutout bucket hat.

The swirling patterns of Earth showed up on jacquard coats and intarsia knitwear and fur, and on a pair of ample coveralls. Bags included duffel-bucket combo shaped by the word FENDI cut out in leather; a denim Peekaboo incorporated as an external water bottle holder and bright shoppers were made out of recycled plastic.

“It’s about a balance of decoration and simplicity,” Venturini Fendi said in show notes. “An ageless sense of freedom to play, as we rediscover the luxury of free time.”

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DOLCE&GABBANA REVISIT SEASONS PAST

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana reached back into their archives for a new collection dubbed “Re-edition” that takes inspiration from the past, but is updated for the moment.

As if cleaning the slate, designers opened the show with a barefoot model in a white tank and briefs.

Dolce&Gabbana mixed distressed elements with tailored pieces for a high-low fashion appeal. The fashion house’s traditional lace tops were updated with a grungily distressed back, giving the otherwise dressier piece some streetwear credibility. Fraying jeans were worn with a black jacket and white shirt unbuttoned to the waist — as with the entire Re-edition collection, each piece carried a label establishing the original year of issue and the 2023 season update, for a dose of now and then.

Patchwork denim became statement pieces, with knee-high boots that appeared fashioned from jean jackets paired with patchwork shorts, leaving just a peek of leg in between. A soft white terry track suit gave way to Dolce&Gabbana’s familiar bling: a crystal covered rose-pattern jacket, worn with torn white jeans and velvet rhinestone covered slippers. Footwear included furry slippers, canvas or macrame sneakers with rope laces.

“I love the freedom of expression that they have,” said stylist Apuje Kalu, who took in the show from the front row alongside NFL quarterback Tyrod Taylor and NBA players Rudy Gay, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Corey Kispert. “That use of color, texture and print, they are not afraid of doing that for men. You don’t always see that.”

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EMPORIO ARMANI’S SEASCAPES

The Emporio Armani collection carried the carefree waft of summer, from light chambray tones to faded coral prints. The sense of the looks was that it's time to return to the simple pleasures.

Soft shirts, gilets and jackets, with dramatic flaps, high necks or zipper accents, were paired with streamlined cargo shorts or pleated trousers, often with informal slits up the leg.

Beachier looks, including drawstring pants and sheer knitwear, were finished with chunky rubber slip-ons, while more urban sophisticated tailored looks — including a series of black-and-white combo suits — were grounded with thick-soled black shoes.

Models of all colors wore hair in cornrows, which the show notes said were “ironically exaggerated,” and perhaps meant to encapsulate the collection’s theme of a woven summer basket described by the fashion house as “full of surprises that brings the spirit of vacation to the city.”

As if to underline the need for joy, a reggae dancer jaunted down center stage to close the show.

Colleen Barry, The Associated Press