MILAN — Milan fashion designers have travel on their minds for next summer.
Designs shown on the second day of menswear previews during Milan Fashion Week had an exotic flare -- even if Miuccia Prada in particular says she was rejecting the label.
African references were predominant. There were geometric patterns, ethnic shades, baggy pants, Kaftans, shell-detailing and sandals.
The tropics also got their due, with floral and animal prints, the colors of sunsets and stormy seas and Hawaiian girl motifs.
Bermudas remain a mainstay for season -- and often make up a suit paired with a narrow jacket, and are always worn with ankle socks.
Often the exotic shared the runway with more classic looks, fitted trousers, summer slacks and button-down shirts. Jackets more often than not are worn with the sleeves pushed or rolled up.
Shoes run the gamut from thick rubber-soles to fine leather booties and loafers.
Miuccia Prada questions the very meaning of summer and the exotic in her latest menswear designs.
Prada has delivered satin floral prints that are clearly associated with the Pacific, and pairs them not with the classic linen gin-and-tonic suit, but with a traditional double-breasted pin stripe.
Her reference point in the collection is clearly the 1940s. The designer has returned to the old-fashioned carry-on luggage — no trollies, please — with bold designs, including tropical florals and Hawaiian girls. The period references on the luggage were also backdrops to the runway: graphic prints of palm trees, postcard sunsets and images of water.
The looks were classics — with Prada updates. She seemed to have sports on her mind: There were satiny boxer shorts, light-weight shirts based on a baseball jacket and a retro bowling ball bag. The designer also layered short-sleeved knitwear over shirts, often with clashing patterns.
The color palette recalled stormy sea colors — gray to teal to black — and sunsets — yellow to terracotta to earthy brown and black.
For next summer Tomas Maier, the acclaimed creative director of luxury goods brand Bottega Veneta, is inviting customers to walk in his shoes.
Maier used the traditional Bottega leather weave for loafers, lace-ups and even sidewalk slippers. Usually, it's reserved for women's handbags.
According to his fashion notes, "contrast" was the theme of Maier's 2014 preview collection.
The show opened with a series of suits with a soft shouldered, wide sleeved jacket and narrow pants. Contrast came in the white lines stitched into the classic look referencing the chalk marks used for fittings in bespoke tailoring, creating imaginary lapels and pockets.
Angela Missoni looked to West Africa for inspiration for her menswear collection for next summer: its colors, its weaves and its accents.
The mood of the collection was encapsulated in an intricate sand-colored crewneck sweater with pieces of red and milky shell embroidered into decorative panels. A small leather talisman sack, for a good luck charm or precious object, was worn around the neck on strands of beads.
The designer for the family label referenced the colors of the continent: indigo textile dyes from Benin, clay tones from Mali and dark olive from the rain forests of Ivory Coast.
The classically cut suits, some in bold indigo plaids and others in khaki shades with the hint of desert reds woven in, were more fitting of an adventurer than a businessman, more likely seen in a colonial hotel than a metropolitan meeting room.
The Calvin Klein man for next summer keeps men in their comfort zone, with a solid focus on basics in reassuring blues. There are bomber jackets, suits with cuffed pants and classic shirts.
Designer Italo Zucchelli offers up monochromatic looks predominantly in blues: wake-up royal, soothing sky and down-to-business navy. Classic double-pocket snap-close shirts are paired with same-color pants that cuff at the ankle. They in turn are worn with a shoe of the matching color and same-color socks — none of the black socks seen on other runways.
Bomber jackets come in white with classic blue vertical stripes, perfect for a day at the ballpark.
On the more daring end of the spectrum, sweatshirts are made of a funky mix of fabrics: One had a neoprene effect, another was chunky knit and finally there were cotton panels. Together, they create a harmonious clash fitting of the heavy metal riffs that resounded down along the runway.
The Ferragamo summer promises to be young and carefree, with Bermuda shorts, leather sandals and a large backpack the only musts for the warm weather traveler.
To set the mood, Massimiliano Giornetti, the label's creative director, created a suitably atmospheric backdrop — a long, white runway was set off by a big blue sky projected on a mega screen.
Giornetti at times took the summer suit trend of Bermuda shorts and a matching jacket a step further by cutting the sleeves off the jacket, or using unconventional colors such as pea green and lobster red.
The designer also favored large geometric patterns, a recurring theme in this round of preview collections, and light and billowy overcoats, which are also popular for next summer.
Vivienne Westwood, the British designer known for her eccentric fashion, dedicated her latest menswear collection to Bradley Manning, an American soldier currently on trial in the U.S. for leaking classified material to the website WikiLeaks. He was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq.
Models walked down the runway wearing a large badge with a picture of the soldier on it, and the word "TRUTH" written at the bottom in bold white letters on a red background.
The collection was casual chic with African references, from the striped linen used for a long Kaftan shirt or a summer suit, to baggy pants and breeches, to geometric prints, to toe sandals and flip flops.
The show opened with a series of summer khaki slacks worn over classic shirts, perfect for a toney summer evening.