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January 26, 2009 12:05 PM

Fashion, Men's

Men's Fashion Week: In the Eye of the Hurricane

A look from Rick Owens. When George Clooney arrived at a Versace women's wear show a few years back, there was a roar from the blasé fashion pack, and women and men surged in with the photographers to get...


A look from Rick Owens.

When George Clooney arrived at a Versace women's wear show a few years back, there was a roar from the blasé fashion pack, and women and men surged in with the photographers to get a closer look.

Last week, when David Beckham strolled into the Emporio Armani show at the outset of Milan men's fashion week, the reception was incredibly subdued: a flashbulb here, a gasp there.

"We're civilized," a veteran men's editor said by way of explanation.

The first fashion week of 2009 was bound to be low-key, given the economic downturn. 
Indeed, there were fewer buyers, fewer celebrities, fewer events and fewer fireworks on the runway. The meager retail contingent in Milan slimmed down even further as the scene headed to men's week in Paris, which wrapped up Sunday.

Still, there were a few fashion moments and a few designers stuck their necks out in spite of it all.


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In Milan, the sinister, claustrophobic atmosphere at Prada was chilling and thrilling at once, and the first sign that fashion will likely head in a darker, tougher direction to reflect our times.

In Paris, plenty of designers, including a strong contingent of experimental types from Japan and South Korea, also mined a dark vein, from Rick Owens' Armageddon chic to Kazuyuki Kumagai's Gothic outerwear for his label Attachment. On a lighter, transporting note, John Galliano created a magical setting with some 20,000 votive candles and acres of crystal shards: the backdrop for a collection that, while costume-y at times, was daring and creative.

"No middle roads," he said the day before the show during fittings. "You have to stand very firmly on your feet in a hurricane."

And no doubt it's going to get even windier in the days ahead.
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