The Alexander McQueen fashion house presented its first menswear collection following the designer's death, drawing on archives and the fashion house's British roots in a bid for continuity.
But not everyone stuck close to familiar territory on the second day of men's fashion week Sunday: Giorgio Armani presented a surprisingly edgy and militaristic/borderline S&M line for next summer. In a diametrically opposite look for the season, Gianfranco Ferre's young designing pair looked to India, Japan and China for a relaxed, easy-to-wear collection cut largely of linen and silk.
Alexander McQueen's spring/summer 2011 collection was the first solo outing for Sarah Burton, who has worked with the fashion house for 16 years and was named creative director last month. The fashion house may still be seeking its emotional footing since McQueen's suicide in February but found firm stylistic ground in the aristocratic and military tradition of Savile row tailoring district and shopping street.
The collection hits a range of historical notes, from World War I Tommies to uppercrust Eaton schoolboys. "This is the England of Alexander McQueen, a place of eclectic historical and cultural references," the fashion house said in a release.
There were classic trench coats of superlight fabric, over stretch tweed military-style leggings, and linen jackets paired with skinny pants that defy their slim fit with cargo pockets.
The color range was mostly neutrals, grays and tans, with flashes of red and orange that burst through in one rich red velvet jacket over wide-leg silk trousers with an Oriental print, roomy loungwear.
Shirts ran the gamut from an easy Nehru collar, or wide, stiff Eton-collar shirts that give new meaning to the phrase buttoned-up.
The collection's highlight was an evening suit that faded from a shimmery silver to gray, giving the effect of a spotlight shining from above, with roomy trousers rolled up at the heel.
Rather than a glitzy show, the collection was presented in a lower-key presentation deemed more appropriate to the circumstances that ended with Sir Edward Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance."
For his second line Emporio Armani, Giorgio Armani strode unshrinking into the leather-clad world depicted in Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" video, which was fully referenced at the end of the show when a parade of Emporio models dressed in black leather military gear from the caps on their heads to the lace-up boots marched across the runway.
No relaxed summer look for the Emporio Armani man: He's clad in leather and wearing chains, or maybe a mesh metal scarf.
"Maybe this is not something we expect to see from Emporio Armani," the designer said after the show. The collection is something youths would "happily wear for their nocturnal wanderings in search of fun," Armani said.
Armani took elements that have become wardrobe standards and put in a contemporary twist, pairing Bermuda shorts with leggings, and updating camouflage with cool city colors, including putty, beige and gray.
There was lots of leather - pants, short-sleeve shirts, gilets with cap sleeves and jackets that might be laser-cut or given an animal print including fish scales and a tortoise.
For the beach, there were black brief swim suits over top crocodile-print lycra leggings and one-piece bathing suits reminiscent of Sacha Baron Cohen's "Bruno" but less whimsical and definitely not fluorescent.
At the other end of the fashion spectrum, GianFranco Ferre's young design team of Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi sought inspiration in the Orient, with references from China, India and Japan in their spring/summer collection.
Lightweight shirts were collarless, or high-collared with buttons in the back, paired with loose trousers or Bermuda shorts. Floppy broad-brimmed hats provided ample sun protection on a safari or in a rice paddy.
For forays into the city, there were three-piece suits and for the evening a tuxedo in silk shantung, cream with black lapels and tie.
The collection features soothing colors of powder green to sand khaki to sky blue and intense lapis lazuli.
The Bottega Veneta man is on the go, and his destination could well be the tropics.
His wardrobe is easy to pack - wrinkles are part of the look - and the range is from guerrilla chic, say olive green garb of lightweight fabric with strategic pockets, to easy-fitting suits that can be slipped on for a gin-and-tonic at an embassy cocktail party.
Shoes have sturdy soles - as he never knows what to expect.