The Italians do summer better than anyone else in the world, and the theater of the season was on show in Milan.
It is a too-little-appreciated fact that the Italians do summer better than anyone else in the world. Sure, Americans have cookouts and fireworks, Northern Europeans make their nude tent camps in the dunes, and the French devote themselves with the usual mirthless rigor to organizing perfectly detailed vacances d’été.
But the Italians, particularly (though not exclusively) those of a certain social and economic stratum, have the advantage. For a start, they inhabit a gorgeous peninsular landmass and string of dependent islands enfolded by a sapphire sea. Also, their history of seafaring trade and conquest has made them at home by the shore.
There is another thing, though: a deeply rooted sense that good living is the point of existence, and few better examples of this cliché that happens also to be a fact can be found than in a recently published book from Rizzoli, “Hotel Il Pellicano.”
A photographic history by three generations of photographers (Slim Aarons, John Swope, Juergen Teller) of a chic 1960s resort tucked into the cliffs along the Tuscan coast in Porto Ercole, “Hotel Il Pellicano” mainly depicts a particular set of bronzed and contented Italians, often titled or well-born but certainly far from poor. What makes the book so irresistible is not the aristo name-check: Corsini, Pucci, Borghese, Pignatelli.
It’s that the people in the pictures (taken over five decades) seem to possess that confident, offhand chic that only Italians bring to the season, along with an inherent sense of the theater of summer that, one is happy to report, was a notable feature of the men’s wear shows here this week.
One highlight of the theme was Massimiliano Giornetti’s show for Ferragamo, where the designer, a spotty performer who in the past has lapsed into lugubrious styling and demonstrated a curious color sense, hit stride. Here he was relaxed and assured, his official point of reference the Riviera in the South of France, yet his point of view irrepressibly Italian. In a limited palette of navy, khaki and jade, Mr. Giornetti showed neat blazers in light cottons — in some cases high-buttoned and double-breasted, in others with flour-sacking stripes at the hem — voluminous trousers (a growing trend), open-weave cotton fishermen’s sweaters and sling-back espadrilles.
Any of the models could easily have walked right off the runway and onto the terrace of Il Pellicano, where a tanned beauty of some sort would be waiting with Negroni in hand.
Similarly, at the Armani and Emporio Armani shows, the designer appeared more at ease than in the recent past — lighter and better able to settle into what he does best. That is, easy cardigan jackets with molded shoulders, geometric prints so subtle they’re close to invisible, full trousers that stop at the ankle and that, when not afflicted with diaper fronts, are neatly proportioned. He also showed his take on the ubiquitous boat shoe.
It is no secret that Giorgio Armani is a sun worshiper, whether on his yacht or at his villa on the volcanic island of Pantelleria. Likewise it’s public knowledge that, having recovered from a serious illness, he wants to work less hard and enjoy life more. And that decision showed in the designs.
Nobody will ever accuse Dean and Dan Caten, the Dsquared designers, of failing to get the most out of life. The tiny twins have the feverish energy of certain insects; certainly they appear to use more wing beats per second than the rest of us. They play hard and work harder, and an overlooked accomplishment is how easy they make it seem. Often there are so many elements in a Dsquared show that you have wade through the thematic welter to see what’s actually going on. This season they served up super-camp glam rock, beefcake in the Cyclades (never let it be said that the Catens are subtle: MYKONOS was printed across one hairless Adonis’s barely clad behind), Scandinavian fishermen and Rome street toughs.
“We always find a lot of lot of stuff to shoot,” Jim Moore, the creative director of GQ, observed later of the Dsquared show.