Moda Uomo fall 2012 sketchbook

Moda Uomo was my first fashion week this year. It was also my first time in Milan, and I thought that perhaps the menswear week would be a little bit calmer and easier to penetrate than Moda Donna. Milan intimidates me, to be honest. It seems very corporate and not as indie-blogger-friendly as other cities, and my Italian is non-existent. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that these fears were, if not unfounded, unnecessary, as I picked up five invitations in Milan just for the trouble of asking.

My first show was Corneliani – the morning was chilly and we got off at the wrong bus stop so we hustled through frosty streets to get to the venue – a design museum. The runway was one of the longest I’ve ever seen and curved, with watery blue projections along the curved wall. The clothing was very clean and careful, grey clusters of grown-up wool suits and handsome, substantial bags.

I have to admit that during Frankie Morello, I was so distracted by the show I forgot to draw it. I love seeing showmanship (literally) on the runway – it’s too rare. Morello sent out punky clubbers bristling with nails and fur and cool downtown boys in beanies, which gradually relaxed into hippie-dudes with bindis and sarongs. For the finale the model’s sarong hung dangerously low until it was dropped with a flourish. Morello literally had the entire crowd leaning forward in their seats and practically salivating. Now that’s runway.

The John Varvatos show was another highlight. Inside a shabby church with chipped plaster and a faded painted angels on the walls and ceiling, they reproduced a bit of Central Park and sent down a series of exquisite New-York-style imaginary boyfriends. I loved drawing this show. The other fun part of this show was getting to sit with the team from Holt Renfrew and for the first time having the opportunity to introduce myself to a Canadian fashion inspiration, Barb Atkin. I was not expecting to see a familiar face in Milan, so this made me smile.

Iceberg had a modern-times backdrop and a bit of Charlie Chaplin rumpled flair. Bowler hats tipped-back, big cardigans and hands in pleated pants-pockets. As a proposal for menswear it was charming – but somehow it didn’t inspire my best work. Perhaps because I switched to markers from watercolours at this point, I was still getting a handle on a new medium.

The final show, Gazzarrini, was the show that was perhaps the most peculiar. It doesn’t take much in menswear to cross over from interesting to implausible. If I met someone wearing these clothes in real life, I would find this person a somewhat strange character. Pin curl pompadours, funnel necks, very high-waisted trousers, and a pop-o-flouro palette.

As usual, you can see the development of sketching over the course of the week – stiffer at Corneliani and very loose and abstract by Gazzarrini.

I did find my first menswear week to be much more chilled out than any womenswear week I’ve attended – perhaps giving a taste of what fashion weeks were like in the pre-blogger days. I saw only a small handful of street style photographers and met only a couple other bloggers – though of course the shows I attended were not the hottest tickets. It did feel like there was space for everyone that wanted to be there. And of course, the people-watching was wonderful – folks were well-dressed and well-groomed, and there were very few show-ponies.

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