Dolce & Gabbana jazz things up with fashion cacophony

This season, a number of Milan brands are managing a transition in creative and business leadership

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Nothing stays the same in fashion, but this is over the top.

This season, a huge number of Milan brands are managing transitions in creative and business leadership, and using the shift to experiment with the way they communicate with their public.

That means some fashion houses, including Ermenegildo Zegna and Roberto Cavalli, have opted for a menswear calendar break, while others have forsaken the choreography of runway shows for more personal presentations, where the designers can discuss their creations and materials more in depth. That includes Ermanno Scervino and Bottega Veneta.

And no few are in creative transition, presenting on the strength of their design team and without a headline stylist or creative presence, namely Salvatore Ferragamo, Canali, Tod’s and Calvin Klein. Versace introduced a new CEO.

But for those reveling in the show, there was no shortage of spectacle on Day One of Milan Fashion Week, with a jazz band performing live at Dolce&Gabbana while a short film by Bruce Weber and some never-before-heard Prince soundtracks were unveiled at Versace.

Here are some highlights from Saturday’s menswear previews for spring-summer 2017:

Dolce&Gabbana invited the fashion crowd to a Sicilian jazz festival with echoes of New Orleans and the Copa Cabana resounding along the checkerboard runway.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana’s prolific collection for next spring and summer was a carefully arranged cacophony, like jazz itself. The live soundtrack to the runway show was provided by the New York jazz band “The Hot Sardines.”

Among the pleasingly discordant looks: A black-and-white ensemble featured a checked sweater worn over a floral print shirt and with striped pants. A sweater emblazoned with jazz musical references in bold white on black was paired with slim leopard print trousers.

There were looks for performers of all musical traditions, from slim, highly disciplined suits to oversized T-shirts over loose trousers and billowing silken floor-length caftans in wild prints.

Stage-ready black and white dominated the runway, with flashes of gold and animal prints. Suit jackets ranged from tuxedo collars to double-breasted looks, while trousers, be they slim or loose and pleated, were almost always cropped to show off thick-soled shoes.

Bomber jackets and boxy tops were the canvas for the recurring motifs, including palm fronds and pineapples along with jazz band instruments.

The show ended with a New Orleans-style jazz parade, the popping of sparkling wine corks and a flurry of golden confetti.

The front-row was populated by a veritable who’s who of the Millennial generation, including Internet star Cameron Dallas, boasting 7.5 million Twitter followers, style icon Luka Sabbat, British rapper Tinie Tempah and famous offspring Gabriel Kane Day-Lewis, Rafferty Law and Lucas Maurice Morad Jagger.

Donatella Versace paid sweet tribute to Prince, capping her runway show with a black ruffle shirt.

The frilly gesture, referencing the artist’s Purple Rain costume, was in stark contrast to the rest of the collection, which was otherwise defined by a relaxed silhouette more befitting an essential nomad than the ostentatious performer.

The collection featured muscle-revealing silk knitwear worn under long, trailing overcoats. Button-down shirts were worn long like tunics, and sweaters wrapped androgynously at the waist. Single-breasted suit jackets were hastily buttoned over loose trousers with an elasticized cuff.

The Versace empire bag was worn both cross-body, messenger-style and as a backpack, and footwear included sturdy sandals and technical sneakers.

The color palate was mostly a traveler’s easy monochrome, including olive, blue, gray and sand -- and Prince’s own purple.

The show was set to a soundtrack of music that Prince recorded as a gift to Versace, who said she wanted “to share this incredible music from a dear and much-missed friend.”

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