Milan men’s fashion week: Sun, sea and short shorts

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Milan
CNN
 — 

There are few things more synonymous with Italy in spring and summer than its beaches. From the Adriatic to the Amalfi Coast, its colorful “lidos” (private beach clubs) are one of the country’s most iconic exports.

The Italian contingent of the Milan Fashion Week schedule seemed set on paying homage to its sunny shores during a weekend of Spring-Summer 2025 shows where a reoccurring theme of backstage mood boards was Italy’s beloved “al mare” (the sea).

At MSGM, where designer Massimo Giorgetti celebrated his brand’s 15th anniversary, outfits riffed on beach-resort signatures with sun-dyed stripes, shiny swim shorts, and cutout motifs of crabs, mermaids and dolphins reminiscent of childhood toys lost in the sand.

Pines, agaves, the scents of salt and resin were inspiration for designer Massimo Giorgetti at MSGM as the label celebrated their 15th anniversary.

Giorgetti, originally from the beach city of Rimini — famed of its 15km stretch of umbrella-lined sands — instead used an image of his adopted seaside home, 300 miles away on the Ligurian coast as the main motif in the collection, a place where, he said, he draws inspiration from the evocative “pines, agaves, and the scent of salt and resin.”

Remembering the Grand Tour

Louche cut silhouettes in luxurious materials were on display at Dolce and Gabbana.

At Dolce & Gabbana, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana naturally leaned into beaches frequented by the jet-set — the kind of people who arrive ashore by their yacht’s tender — for its collection entitled “Italian Beauty”. It was heavy on the raffia (seen on boxy jackets, shoes and satchels) and all-over coral embroidery that nodded to the twinkling keepsakes found in the ‘goallerieas’  (jewelry stores) of Capri and Portofino that the Italians love to window-shop at sunset.

“Since the 19th century, the Grand Tour was a journey that had Italy as its destination, thus becoming one of the most iconic places to visit for summer holidays,” relayed the designers in show notes, adding that Italy’s hotspots “became places of pure aesthetics,” a snapshot that they paid homage to with louche-cut silhouettes in luxe materials.

Between the city and the beach

At Gucci, where Sabato de Sarno revealed his sophomore menswear collection for the house, city-approved leather jackets and polo shirts mingled with icons of ocean culture. “This collection speaks of encounters — ‘icontri’ — between the city and the beach and among people who love life,” said Napoli-born De Sarno. His sharp cuts were countered with a breezy sensibility reflected in repetitive dolphin and surfer prints that popped up on retro Cuban-collar shirts (the latter inspired by author William Finnegan’s autobiography “Barbarian Days, A Surfing Life”). Elsewhere, toweling-style polo shirts in Neapolitan gelato shades were teamed with board shorts and rubber sea shoes — possibly de Sarno’s first hype-item hit — which grounded the majority of looks.

Despite what could have resulted in a presentation of derivative stereotypes, the Italians swerved gimmicks to deliver real clothes that have more to say than the popular but homogenized recent proliferation of “quiet luxury” collections.

Actor Paul Mescal - a known fan of the short short - was sat front row at the Gucci Men's Spring-Summer 2025 show.
“This collection speaks of encounters — ‘icontri’ — between the city and the beach and among people who love life,” said de Sarno.
Rubber sea shoes were a repeated feature of Sabato de Sarno's sophomore collection at Gucci.

Against a divisive political and humanitarian backdrop, their homages to Italy’s universally aspired-to dolce vita summers and throwbacks to what are now perceived as simpler times drew a collective optimism.

Clothing that’s both playful and useful

Along similar lines, Prada looked to themes of youthful optimism, freedom and energy. For its collection, entitled “Closer,” the house looked to capture “the power of reality, in a world of the imaginary,” said the show notes, with closely cropped, deliberately creased shirting, off-kilter prismatic prints, and dropped-waist belts painted onto trousers in the style of tromp l’oeil. Sweetly naïve but at the same time reminding us that nothing is quite what meets the eye, it’s easy to imagine this as a wardrobe that might find its way to the promenades of Rimini having been thrown in a hopeful ingenue’s suitcase at the last minute for an invitation promising a good time.

Miuccia Prada refuted it was a collection about escapism, “actually, I propose something positive, I don’t think we should escape from reality,” she said backstage. Rather she and co-creative director Raf Simons wanted to create something “playful and useful” chimed Simons.

Dropped-waist belts were painted onto trousers in the style of tromp l’oeil at Prada.

“We wanted to create clothes that have lived a life, that are alive in themselves,” they relayed in the show notes. “There is a sense of spontaneity and optimism to these clothes — they reflect instinctive but deliberate choices, freedom.”

The celebration of simple sensations and comfort in the familiar also popped up at JW Anderson, where designer Jonathan Anderson, who hails from Northern Ireland, sent summer knits depicting a child’s drawing of quintessentially British “two-up-two-down” houses. At Moschino, where creative director Adrian Appiolaza debuted his first menswear collection, skirts came in postcard prints and blazers splashed with classic Italian tablescape scenes. “Escaping the city, true individuals wear clothes that speak of the Italian countryside, of the wilds of the jungle, and finally of a serenity — outer exploration, to find inner peace,” said the brand.

Fila+, headed up by Lev Tanju, staged a presentation that welcomed editors to a replica 1990s Italian home, with kids watching football in the living room, a nonna knitting a blanket in the Italian tricolor, and three men playing the card game Scopa around a kitchen table, all wearing tracksuits Tanju has reinvented from the 113-year-old Italian brand’s illustrious archive.

The collection from Northern Irish designer JW Anderson featured a paen to the modest British 'two up two down' home, which features just two rooms on each floor.
Fendi's collection featured a crest first used by Karl Lagerfeld when he was at the house.
Fendi's theme of reflective team spirit prevailed in sporty collegiate silhouettes.
At Moschino, creative director Adrian Appiolaza debuted his first menswear collection featuring classic Italian scenes.

And at Fendi, Silvia Fendi based the collection on a picture of the Italian football manager wearing a Fendi suit that she found in the archive. A theme of reflective team spirit prevailed in sporty collegiate silhouettes featuring the Fendi crest comprising a squirrel, the Fendi stripe, and a Roman God. First used by previous creative director Karl Lagerfeld, it represents “who looks in two ways; one looks at the past and one looks at the future. And this is what Fendi is about, preserving techniques or but also experimenting,” said Fendi backstage.

Rooted in hopefulness and experimentation, the Milan season was a collective celebration of dolce-vita.

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