sport polos DSquared2 andGiorgio Armani
You would if you happened to be at the Ralph Lauren presentation in Milan this week. Showing in this city for the first time in 12 years, in a severe Liberty style palazzo he happens to own, Mr. Lauren offered impeccable evening clothes that were as much about brand architecture as dinner at eight. Not long ago, Mr. Lauren eliminated his popular midprice Black Label line, bisecting his men’s wear business into Polo Ralph Lauren and a Purple Label offering, pitched toward the growing market for luxury goods.
That’s where the suit linings come in. The tailoring fanatics that populate the blogosphere would geek out over the details of a Purple Label jacket, so subtly have the building blocks of a suit been restricted, reduced or eliminated with no visible compromise to the final effect.
Just last year, China’s purchasing power surpassed that of the United States, which had held the top spot since 1872. (Current temperature in Beijing: high 80s.) For nearly the past decade in Malaysia, the creation of a fantastically wealthy echelon of consumers termed PMEBs professionals, managers, executives and businessmen has driven retail sales. And, according to a study by the Oxford Business Group, Indonesia’s growth is rising fast. Mr. Lauren’s decision to show elegant, imperceptibly tropical suiting in a city more convenient for Asian buyers to reach than New York makes total sense when looked at through that lens.
“A tuxedo jacket over destroyed denim is totally modern,” Renzo Rosso, the fashion industrialist behind Staff International, which licenses the designers Dean and Dan Caten’s DSquared2, said backstage before that label’s show early on Monday. And the steady expansion of DSquared2 from a mainly denim line into a luxury goods brand is predicated on that particular high low formula and one other factor. “Asia is a really strong market for us,
” Mr. Rosso said. “All Asia is so great, but especially China.”
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Somewhere out of sight, a deejay was cueing up “Hawaii Five 0,” not that it was needed. The “Surfin’ Safari” theme of the show had been carried through in the designers’ usual clever styling tricks, but was unusually well supported in this case by a smart collection favoring groupings of lightweight anoraks, parkas, fluorescent Neoprene shorts, surf bum baggy jeans and covetable denim jackets bleached white from below the chest pocket.
An hour later across town, Giorgio Armanigave a theater full of guests including Robert De Niro and his wife, Grace Hightower; the basketball player Russell Westbrook; and an array of Italian demi celebrities a master class in the meaning of longevity.
In recent seasons, Mr. Armani has drawn closer to his roots in design, to the kind of clothes he introduced to the world beyond Italy at about the time of Mr. De Niro’s “Raging Bull” (1980).
Here he reprised familiar ideas with quiet confidence, showing neat, high buttoned double breasted cardigan jackets; voluminous trousers whose high waists dropped down to bellows like reverse pleats; featherweight jackets; sweaters with subtle linear patterns; and pieced leather bombers that proved the basic wisdom of the goes around comes around adage. There was some unexpected,
even topical sexiness in a palette that seemed drawn from a packet of Necco wafers. Who says real men don’t wear powder pink?