It's not a fussy season.
Next year's winter look is classic without being retro, full of staples that distinguish themselves from years past through detail and technology. Colors are dark but not somber, and the looks are often monochromatic or mix-matched patterns, with lots of pinstripes, checks and plaids.
Accessories, fashion mainstays for many designers, take a back seat to the clothes this round. Oversized, heavy-soled footwear are the most innovative accent, and designers kept the pants short to show them off.
The collections are casual, but not necessarily sporty, featuring crewneck sweaters and shirts. Designers also provided daytime business wear with single- or double-breasted suits.
Midway through Milan's four-day menswear fashion previews, tradition trumps trends.
The mood was solemn and the music mournful at the Missoni fashion show, which went on despite the uncertain fate of the family-run fashion house's CEO.
Vittorio Missoni, along with his companion, two other Italian friends and a crew of two, have been missing since their plane disappeared off Venezuelan resort islands more than a week ago.
His sister Angela, the brand's designer, and the rest of the family decided to go ahead with Sunday's show even as crews continued to search for the plane. In a show of support, Italian Fashion Chamber President Mario Boselli led the crowd in a standing ovation at the end of the preview for the winter 2014 menswear collection on Sunday.
Angela Missoni, Vittorio's sister, did not greet the crowd, as she normally does, choosing to stay backstage. No other members of the family were present. The Missoni fashion house was founded 60 years ago by their parents, Ottavio and Rosita, who turned it over to their three children in the late 1990s.
"The affection and the solidarity that we have received in these days of waiting are of great comfort for my entire family, and they give us the strength to continue to hope," Angela said in a statement.
The collection's inspiration was the American West: the dramatic coastlines, deserts and Grand Canyon informing both the colors and the patterns. The looks were relaxed, from the knit suits to denim shirts and jeans to casual corduroy pants.
Many of the knits were bulky, with colorful designs across the back, mostly in dual shades — rust and brown, or mustard and amber or purple and red. The color procession reflected the cycle of a day, from daytime desert sand to deep sunset red and purple to nighttime anthracite and subdued silver.
Don't think the Prada man is absent-minded just because one point of his shirt collar is tucked into the sweater, while the other is out. It's all quite deliberate.
Prada's menswear for next winter features basic shirts, crew neck sweaters and trousers in a very classic color palate: blue, light blue, yellow and red. The shirts, often checked, some with ruffles and ribbons down the front, are worn purposely askew.
The collection aims to answer the question "what is daily fashion," Miuccia Prada said backstage. "Fashion is what you want to wear. The shirt you want to wear, the sweater you want to wear, what a human wants to wear."
The look recalls the past, when telephones were hardwired and typewriters were the vanguard of communications technology, but is made for men who rely on cell phones and laptops.
Outerwear completes the look, from wool or leather overcoats, worn mostly open, to baseball jackets with knit waistlines. The collection was mostly unadorned. The only accessory: thick-soled, oversized shoes in shiny black or brown leather. Cropped pants and no socks accentuate the footwear.
Superlatives don't work with Tomas Maier, a designer of discretion, just like his collections for Bottega Veneta.
And yet one is tempted is to gush over his latest menswear collection. The streamlined look of the collection fits in with the general message coming off the current Milan runway to keep things classic. Subtle details are what make all the difference.
In his show notes, the designer said he wants "no fuss, no gimmicks, but a richness that reflects the world we all work in."
The basic silhouette is a tailored suit cut close to the body in either single-, double-breasted, or three-piece styles. However, the jacket might have a skinny lapel, or no lapel, and the buttoning could be asymmetric while the buttons themselves might be covered in fabric. Sporty outerwear becomes sophisticated when fashioned in suiting fabrics, and worn with vests and dress shirts. A simple gray flannel suit is spiffed up by a patterned shirt and tie.
Maier's latest detail twist is to reinvent classic suiting fabrics, by creating new tweeds, woven in cotton or wool and incorporated in the fabric. These new wool prints are all designed by the Bottega Veneta team. Materials in the collection include lightweight flannel, cashmere and worsted wool, as well as super supple leather.
Ferragamo's winter silhouette is dark, edgy and urban. Collars up and layered for any eventuality, the Ferragamo man is on the move.
Designer Massimiliano Giornetti honors tradition in the Ferragamo menswear collection for next fall and winter with classic looks proving to be the abiding trend on this season's runways. But the fashion house that first made its name in leather goods is distinguishing itself with utility.
Outerwear is the core of the collection, and Ferragamo extends its usefulness by making it reversible and multi-purpose: A woolen overcoat with leather accents is lined with shearling, while a cape is made more versatile by cashmere lining.
Knitwear is mostly chunky with high necks, but it can also be a finer crewneck that gives a clean line when worn beneath an overcoat. Trousers finish at about three-quarter length to reveal leather boots with stealthy rubber soles.
Versace's menswear collection for next winter is nothing if not eclectic.
Macho rocker, nostalgic creative, pampered metrosexual, life-of-the-party: there was something for every Versace aficionado in the new collection.
It's as if designer Donatella Versace looked into the archives and decided she loved it all: Golden accents, studs, Baroque touches, wild prints and hand-painted details.
There were hand-painted denim ensembles, black-and-tan leather pants and jackets with sculpted shoulders and plaid suits. The iconic Baroque Versace motif made appearances as appliques sewn onto wool coats or in the familiar gold-and-black print in a quilted coat.
Versace also tossed in classic looks, which are dominating Milan runways this season, presenting a double-breasted suit. Hers was loose-fitting, plaid and worn with two-tone shoes.
Versace has also thrown down the gauntlet to men, challenging them to wear lacy lingerie. It's a reasonable question: Why should such indulgences be just for women? Versace designed transparent lace shorts or briefs, with matching tops, in staples black or white.
British designer Vivienne Westwood is never at a loss to speak her mind through fashion. This round, she chooses the Milan runway as her megaphone to call for climate revolution.
"Climate revolution is the only means toward a sound economy. When the general public massively switches on to this fact we will win," she said in her fashion notes, which accompanied her winter 2014 menswear collection.
Models with puffed lips and painted black eyes looked like they had just come from fighting the designer's battle, as they marched down the runway in low-crotched pants, a long-tailed morning coat, shiny orange fluorescent lace-ups and an oversized, wide-brimmed felt hat.
Throughout the collection, revolutionary slogans calling for an end to the climate crisis were printed on white T-shirts.
Italo Zuchelli, creative director for Calvin Klein menswear, invented his own version of the layered look by combining sportswear with formal attire to create a 24-hour look for the winter 2014.
"Nobody wants to change several times a day anymore," Zuchelli told reporters ahead of his show during Milan Fashion Week.
A sporty quilted nylon vest can be worn over an elegant three-quarter coat, or a fancy silk blazer. Trousers are workman multi-pocketed cargo pants but fashioned in soft gentlemanly materials. Synthesized rubber is worked to look quilted, and can be used for both formal and informal wear.