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Milan designers fall back on the classics

Sunday - 1/13/2013, 5:32pm  ET

A model wears a creation for Missoni men's Fall-Winter 2013-14 collection, part of the Milan Fashion Week, unveiled in Milan, Italy, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

COLLEEN BARRY
Associated Press

MILAN (AP) -- It's not a fussy season.

Next year's winter look is classic without being retro, full of staples that distinguish themselves from years past through detail and technology. Colors are dark but not somber, and the looks are often monochromatic or mix-matched patterns, with lots of pinstripes, checks and plaids.

Accessories, fashion mainstays for many designers, take a back seat to the clothes this round. Oversized, heavy-soled footwear are the most innovative accent, and designers kept the pants short to show them off.

The collections are casual, but not necessarily sporty, featuring crewneck sweaters and shirts. Designers also provided daytime business wear with single- or double-breasted suits.

Midway through Milan's four-day menswear fashion previews, tradition trumps trends.

MISSONI

The mood was solemn and the music mournful at the Missoni fashion show, which went on despite the uncertain fate of the family-run fashion house's CEO.

Vittorio Missoni, along with his companion, two other Italian friends and a crew of two, have been missing since their plane disappeared off Venezuelan resort islands more than a week ago.

His sister Angela, the brand's designer, and the rest of the family decided to go ahead with Sunday's show even as crews continued to search for the plane. In a show of support, Italian Fashion Chamber President Mario Boselli led the crowd in a standing ovation at the end of the preview for the winter 2014 menswear collection on Sunday.

Angela Missoni, Vittorio's sister, did not greet the crowd, as she normally does, choosing to stay backstage. No other members of the family were present. The Missoni fashion house was founded 60 years ago by their parents, Ottavio and Rosita, who turned it over to their three children in the late 1990s.

"The affection and the solidarity that we have received in these days of waiting are of great comfort for my entire family, and they give us the strength to continue to hope," Angela said in a statement.

The collection's inspiration was the American West: the dramatic coastlines, deserts and Grand Canyon informing both the colors and the patterns. The looks were relaxed, from the knit suits to denim shirts and jeans to casual corduroy pants.

Many of the knits were bulky, with colorful designs across the back, mostly in dual shades -- rust and brown, or mustard and amber or purple and red. The color procession reflected the cycle of a day, from daytime desert sand to deep sunset red and purple to nighttime anthracite and subdued silver.

PRADA

Don't think the Prada man is absent-minded just because one point of his shirt collar is tucked into the sweater, while the other is out. It's all quite deliberate.

Prada's menswear for next winter features basic shirts, crew neck sweaters and trousers in a very classic color palate: blue, light blue, yellow and red. The shirts, often checked, some with ruffles and ribbons down the front, are worn purposely askew.

The collection aims to answer the question "what is daily fashion," Miuccia Prada said backstage. "Fashion is what you want to wear. The shirt you want to wear, the sweater you want to wear, what a human wants to wear."

The look recalls the past, when telephones were hardwired and typewriters were the vanguard of communications technology, but is made for men who rely on cell phones and laptops.

Outerwear completes the look, from wool or leather overcoats, worn mostly open, to baseball jackets with knit waistlines. The collection was mostly unadorned. The only accessory: thick-soled, oversized shoes in shiny black or brown leather. Cropped pants and no socks accentuate the footwear.

BOTTEGA VENETA

Superlatives don't work with Tomas Maier, a designer of discretion, just like his collections for Bottega Veneta.

And yet one is tempted is to gush over his latest menswear collection. The streamlined look of the collection fits in with the general message coming off the current Milan runway to keep things classic. Subtle details are what make all the difference.

In his show notes, the designer said he wants "no fuss, no gimmicks, but a richness that reflects the world we all work in."

The basic silhouette is a tailored suit cut close to the body in either single-, double-breasted, or three-piece styles. However, the jacket might have a skinny lapel, or no lapel, and the buttoning could be asymmetric while the buttons themselves might be covered in fabric. Sporty outerwear becomes sophisticated when fashioned in suiting fabrics, and worn with vests and dress shirts. A simple gray flannel suit is spiffed up by a patterned shirt and tie.

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