ETRO AW2015/16 Menswear collection creates a world of illusion next Autumn, where military drops the attitude and uniforms get issued their very own personal painters. Etro’s “Never Ending Supper”, iconic advertising imagery created 17 years ago, is as relevant as ever, informing a dreamy world of noble, marble-lined Italian palazzos that now crawl with exotic animals.
The collection is as rich and curated as a cabinet of curiosities. Treasures unfurl around every corner, with fabrics zealously transformed. Etro has revived a slumbering colony of artists in Como to rigorously hand-paint the surfaces of clothes, adding dreamy, tone-on-tone layers over horizontal grain corduroy or velvet suits. They look printed, but each of these garments has in fact been transformed one-by-one by a single painter’s carful brush strokes. Silk printed coats, needle-stitched with two types of wool, create a fuzzy 3-D plaid surface. Cotton plaid printed shirts are as beautiful and luminous as silk, while heat stamped velvet suits are scattered in gold dust, recalling the grandeur of Fortuny palazzo in Venice.
Pattern rises and falls, loosing its borders and confines while prints appear and disappear like an illusionistic trick. Trompe-l’oeil and ombre effects happily make you loose track of where you are and what you’re looking at (just like our zoo-filled palazzos!). Painted Paisley flowers and petals swirl around jacket shoulders and on pant legs, barely visible, before evaporating into thin air. Plaids and paisleys, checks and tweeds, meet in an alchemy on mannish wool coats, gently blending into one another. Checked plaids move from small to extra large, as if being viewed under a magnifying glass.
Blanketed in rugged tobacco and leather tones, the clothes possess the formality of uniforms but the comfort of sportswear. Draw-string pants are loosened, like breeches, around the hips and have elastic ankles. The boots have rugged rubber soles but possess the polish of a classics lace-up shoe. Corduroy sunglasses watch the swinging movement of patchwork weekend bags in laser cut velvet and pony. Jackets are elongated and worn with turtlenecks. Shearling lined frock coats and military jackets have luxurious silk linings and printed pony skin under collars. The pocket-front Safari jacket, a staple in the Etro archives, makes its way onto Kean Etro’s runway for the first time, creating a winter safari suit. The worlds of formal and informal collide and explode for evening where tuxedos are wrapped in immense velvet devore pois scarves, and where velvet gold-dusted puffer jackets offer a new dandy uniform after-dark. All of it comes together like a grand wunder-room.