Given the economic gloom, safe, long-term investments are definitely in fashion. And designers are banking on the overcoat, which made a big comeback on the Milan runways during menswear fashion week, which ended Tuesday.
A rich, red long overcoat with astrakhan fur lapels modeled by Adrien Brody at Prada earlier in the week was emblematic of the winter look.
Shearling, hardy and multipurpose yet fashionable, is the darling of the season. But there also will be an array of elegant evening coats of such luscious materials as astrakhan and velvet _ not only as accents, but as full-fledged outerwear.
Styles ranged from businesslike double-breasted to winter-ready trench coats. There was no end to the detailing, from peacock feathers to military broaches to studs and silk embroidery. Designers also mixed materials, combining leather and tweed, wool and velvet, fur and fabric.
For a more casual look, fashion houses offered hooded duffle coats and pea jackets. There were few sportier styles, although biker jackets, bombers and parkas made cameo appearances.
Overall, the message was conservative. Jackets tended to be short and close to the body, and pants were mostly skinny with some more relaxed looks.
Layering was in, and turtlenecks were substituting for ties even for evening. Knitwear was geometric and floral patterns graced just about any garment.
Total black was the season's favorite tone _ perhaps wishful thinking for the balance sheets. Overall the palate was traditional urban, with just sparks of teal, peacock blue, red and purple.
Much of the flash was reserved for accents, like silver details on footwear or shimmery fabric for shirts and jackets.
If all this was too much austerity, then ostentatious studs glammed up some wardrobes.
Bags were flat, for the work laptop, or roomy, for travel getaways. Velvet slippers were big, contrasting with heavy biker boots. The classic laceup and fringed moccasins were sure bets for the season.
Leave it to Mr. Armani to prove that comfort and elegance can share the same closet.
His menswear winter 2013 collection had all the items a well-turned-out gentlemen needs, and yet was as comfortable as a pair of jeans and a sweat shirt. The secret lies in the materials: knitted wool and stretch fabric. The ample cut of the clothes does the rest.
An iconic double-breasted coat _ the number one item on a man's shopping list for next winter _ comes in knitted wool. A gray business suit is crafted in super soft stretch fabric and has a short deconstructed jacket and pants with extra wide darts. A velvet Tuxedo jacket is worn with a simple silk T-shirt.
On the other side of the coin, Armani takes top-drawer pieces and transfers them into casual wear worthy of fancy dress.
The vest from a three-piece suit gets a zipper and is knitted in Nordic patterns. The same zippered vest returns for eveningwear, this time in monochromatic stretch fabric. A zipper replaces buttons on a silk shirt.
Armani drew inspiration for his winter palette from Alpine scenery: boulder gray, bright sky blue, and Dolomite red, the color of the mountains surrounding Cortina d'Ampezzo, one of Italy's most exclusive ski resorts.
At Versace, the motto for next winter is clearly: Glitter, never enough!
Donatella Versace covered her menswear creations in golden studs, and then sprinkled them with Swarovski crystals.
The collection presented in the covered garden of her Milanese palazzo started off quite button-down: A dark blue pinstriped suit with a baby blue shirt and silver tie. Golden buttons provided the only bling.
But it didn't take long to turn up the heat, with denim outfits covered with large golden rivets, adorned with bright wool collars in green or yellow. The rivets completely covered the denim in one pair of cropped jeans.
Donatella wasn't color-shy. Two frolicking denim outfits in bright floral print conjured images of 1970s playsuits. A bright red tailored suit was paired with a bright pink turtleneck, a fire-engine red jacket with a green turtleneck.
Then, suddenly, the lights went down, and the glam went up. A sheer black shirt with crystal accents, worn with tuxedo trousers. A leather jacket with crystals on the back, and studs on the arms.
For accessories, a heavy gold chain provides security for oversized leather wallets stuffed in back pockets. Motorcycle boots with gold accents completed the "Don't mess with me!" attitude.
The transgressive designing duo Dean and Dan Caten, opened the last day of the menswear preview collections for next winter with a relatively somber DSquared2 collection-showing the twins are in tune with the tough economic times.
To the rock beat of "The Wall" by Pink Floyd, the Canadian duo sent out models in tight, low-waisted cropped jeans, worn with a short jacket. By night, the designers offered several outfits with studs or graffiti.
But that was as bad-boy as it got. The rest of the show was devoted to classic styles, the same kind seen on most of the runways throughout the four days of preview showings.
Knitted vests, tweed coats, mohair sweaters and suede jackets all stayed on the safe side, where fashion has retreated for the moment. Ditto for the formal tuxedo suit that closed the show, worn with classy patent-leather boots.