MILAN (AP) — Mary J. Blige feted designing twins Dean and Dan Caten on their DSquared2 label's 20th anniversary and Snoop Dogg brought down German designer Philipp Plein's house as Milan Fashion Week opened four days of menswear previews Saturday with a musical bang.
The first day of the festivities also featured preview collections by Dolce & Gabbana, Jil Sander and Versace, who all stand ready to capitalize on a strong 2014 that saw Italian menswear revenues grow by 1.2 percent to 8.6 billion euros ($10 billion).
In coming days Frida Gianni will roll out her last menswear collection for Gucci, which she leaves after a decade, while Italian design newcomer Stella Jean, who claims singer Rihanna among her followers, will preview her first men's collection.
Here are some highlights from the first full day of the fashion extravaganza:
PARIS HILTON SALUTES SNOOP DOGG
Snoop Dogg came out singing, and urged the crowd to raise their hands in the air: In the smart phone era that was a cue for everyone to raise their phones and start snapping away. And that included Paris Hilton, in the front row at the Philipp Plein show wearing a rich crystal-studded black and silver jacket.
Hilton, who was on hand for the DSquared festivities and was due later to play DJ at Just Cavalli, joined the crowd in moving to Snoop Dogg 's beat as she recorded images of Snoop Dogg performing inside a mock boxing ring. Snoop wore some Philipp Plein originals, a quilted hoodie and sweat pants with a 78 across the front for the designer's birth year.
Philipp Plein knows how to create a spectacle within a spectacle within a spectacle.
His runway show Saturday night featured a faux boxing match inside a metal cage that was surrounded by tribal musicians with painted faces banging metal drums pacing models who walked the perimeter of a concentric metal fence in dark rocker/urban warrior looks.
The crystal studded wardrobe, from shoes to bags to jackets, in luxury materials like crocodile are pure indulgence. Yet the athletic wear-accents like knee pads and football body armor, coupled with baseball bats brandished in a menacing Clockwork Orange-way, gave the whole caged spectacle a dystopian prison feel. Which only raises the question: were those two figures with crystal-studded helmets fitted with ram horns guards, or escapees?
Here's a word you don't often use to describe Versace: Cozy.
Donatella Versace's collection for men had an unapologetically warm and cuddly core, with cashmere knitwear in long, lean ribbed tops, fitted knit leggings or bulky cable-knit cardigans.
And the revolution didn't stop there. Gone were the usual heavy application Versace accents. Instead, the new Versace jacket, distinguished by its constructed shoulders and shorter cut, closed in one variation on one side with a plain horizontal clasp.
The simplicity carried through to the colors: monotones, in smoky urban tones of gray, burgundy and brown. Leather sneakers finished the looks.
Viva la famiglia. Dolce & Gabbana kept the family close at heart during the menswear preview for next winter, featuring real-life families on stage, and even childhood snapshots of the designers' own families on the scrapbook-style invitations.
Eight Italian families posed in the labels' finery to create a tableau vivant background for the runway show — with a 2-year-old boy clad in gray short pants squirming charmingly in his father's arms.
Family portraits adorned many of the looks: from rich sepia photographs of the assembled families to reproductions of Renaissance-era paintings of the Holy Family reproduced on velvet tops adorned with golden brocade stitching. The final look: a textured sweatshirt reading: "Ti Voglio Tanto Bene," Italian for "I love you very much."
In a tribute to real life, designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana featured not just the usual casting of young models but also more distinguished gray-haired gentlemen in formal business suits, eveningwear and big shearling coats.
DSQUARED2 AT 20
Belting out U2's "One," pop diva Mary J. Blige celebrated the designing twins Dean and Dan Caten on Friday evening, ahead of Milan Fashion Week's official opening, to mark the 20th anniversary of their DSquared2 fashion label.
The Caten twins, decked out in matching celebratory tuxedos, showed their tribute collection to 1,300 guests amid towering sculptures by German artist Anselm Kiefer at Pirelli's capacious Hangar Bicocca on the outskirts of Milan.
"We want to look ahead," Dan Caten said. "In these years, we brought the brand exactly to the level that we always dreamed, we learned the tricks of the trade and now we have again found the same enthusiasm as when we started out."
The designers dug deep into their Canadian roots for their anniversary collection — with looks befitting the funkiest of lumberjacks, fur traders and rodeo riders.
Supersized fur caps with big ear flaps and oversized fur coats gave the collection a lush impression. But much of the collection had a distinctly utilitarian feel: Red plaid shirts were worn under down vests with fur accents, and paired with the designers' de rigueur jeans and knee-high boots.
The mannish aesthetic was belied only briefly by flashes of hot pink on a pair of jackets and a shirt.
CHALLENGING THE FASHION RULES
White shoes for winter, oh my!
Roldolfo Paglialunga, Jil Sander's new designer, played with color and form for his first menswear collection ever, not just at his new label, and made clear he meant to adhere to no fashion rule book in particular.
Footwear epitomized the playfulness of the collection, whose lines and colors were as easy to read as the Sunday morning comics. Shoes were monochromatic and chunky, ranging from rubbery white to equally un-wintery orange, to more classic leather shoes in black and tan.
Trousers were either both trim and snug, or amply pleated and roomy for a softer, perhaps even feminine look. There was an oversized vibe to the collection, with belted overcoats and sweatshirts with deliberate and intricate creases suggesting the precision of Japanese folds. Colors defined each look as cobalt blue played against rust, saffron against navy and camel against gray.