Front row gets feet wet as designers dip toes in world of men’s fashion


If Kate Middleton does choose Bruce Oldfield to design her wedding dress, perhaps Prince William might consider something a bit more surprising for himself. If he should hanker to trade in his regimental wedding garb for something a little jazzier, Dame Vivienne Westwood has a few suggestions.

Drop-crotched trousers, preppy cardigans, clownish check trousers with braces, and rockabilly denim all featured on the Westwood catwalk in Milan yesterday.

In her show notes, Westwood asked: “With royal marriage in the air, who would you choose to be your bridegroom? Come on girls, our catwalk is your chance to dream.”

This time last year the designer presented a collection of “homeless chic” that made some onlookers fear that she thought Zoolander was a documentary, not a piece of satire. For this Royal Wedding-informed look, however, she offered a more (for her, at least) conventional collection. She started with formal wear, presenting suits in houndstooth and checks, then gave her interpretation of some of casual menswear’s most popular riffs. These included rocker-style double denim, commuter-style quilted jackets and regimental-style military jackets — which wouldn’t be much use at all to the Prince.

Milan’s Menswear Fashion Week began on Saturday and presents clothes that will go on sale next winter. One of the most impressive collections so far has been Burberry’s. It was coats, coats, coats; trenches, down-filled puffa-style, duffle, sheepskin, fur-lined, military and check, there was barely a coat trope that the designer Christopher Bailey didn’t touch upon.

For the finale, his models re-emerged wearing transparent macs, and Burberry’s stage designers somehow conjured torrents of rain which fell from the roof on to the catwalk without utterly drenching the audience. While the macs protected the models and the collection, a few front-row shoes were dampened. Marigay McKee, fashion and beauty director at Harrods, said: “I’ve never been rained on in a show before. It was very dramatic.”

Bailey said the rain finale “was possibly quite radical. Maybe a bit silly. But it’s OK to be silly sometimes. And it’s difficult to make a show about the weather when you’re inside a tent.”

Jimmy Choo has not hitherto been a brand with any presence at the Milan men’s shoes: the male market for Choo’s signature style of vertiginous high-heels is probably a little too niche. At the weekend, however, the brand founded by David Cameron’s recently appointed UK Trade ambassador, Tamara Mellon, presented a collection of Choos made just for men, including biker boots, zebra-stripe slippers, Chelsea boots in python and trainers.

Joshua Schulman, chief executive of Choo, said he believed that the brand was now big enough to be worn by men as well as women. A lot of people have come in today and said what are we going to see? A lot of rhinestones and platforms for men? But we have gone for a very masculine collection.”

Close inspection revealed that some of the shoes were patterned with the silhouettes of arched-backed, naked women. This pattern, inspired by Mellon’s vision of a Mayfair Playboy, is called “porno paisley”. Charming.

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Louis Graves

I like pretty things and making myself, and others, pretty. Long time dog mummy and lover of beauty. Come and join me in my world.