The alpha male’s tough side

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The alpha male’s tough side
Something in the dank winter air — or the even chillier economy — is bringing out the tough side of the alpha male.

The urban man facing off the great outdoors is the message. But there are now many more options since the days when there was a deep divide between work and casual wear. The strong story emerging from the Milan shows, which close on Wednesday, is the melding of what were once two distinct wardrobe lives.

At Gucci, a fine show on Monday made up for a lack of visible high tech treatments with a charming rendition of heritage Britain — part Sergeant Pepper military officer (double-breasted tailoring, plus gilded buttons), part the dashing racecourse type (in super-sized Prince of Wales checks). A third element was a hint of the sexy ’60s, which runs so deep in the male fashion psyche. “Pairing formal and informal — a contemporary gentleman with a romantic soul,” said the designer Frida Giannini, whose use of subtle details from a leather trim on a streamlined coat to a tapestry of flowers buried in a mohair sweater, deserved to be seen up close.

Calvin Klein always has been a label attuned more to the street than the salon. Quilting was a major influence, used for utility vests that were melded with more formal grey suits. Then there were the four front pockets, given a military touch with mesh, while padded undercoats gave a further feeling of protection.

Significantly, Giorgio Armani hooked on the neoprene thing — and it made for a strong collection for his Emporio Armani line.

“Everything is sporty,” Armani said as he greeted a bunch of Italian sports stars and actors who could be imagined in these clothes. However classic a double-breasted coat or a neat, small jacket might seem, nylon or neoprene insinuated itself under or over the garment.

And although the Emporio collection had plenty of neutrals like beige, spring colours like yellow, blue, tu­rquoise and purple — bro­ught a bed of floral colours, making it seem a smart meld of town and country.

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