Fashion Shows Go His and Hers

Designers tip their hands with men's shows that foreshadow women's.

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What works for men can work for women, too.

That seems to be the mantra among European designers, who increasingly are previewing what’s ahead in their women’s collections in the men’s wear styles they show a few months earlier.

While conventional wisdom is that men’s wear lags trends in women’s, the fact the two are increasingly in parallel should perhaps be not that surprising: After all, they emerge from the same creative minds and exhibit the same brand ethos.

For example, Prada’s show for women last month featured hefty wools and no-nonsense tailoring, staged with scaffolding and charcoal-gray carpet — repeats of what the house showed to the men’s market in January.

Bottega Veneta’s plush velvets and milky colors, Gareth Pugh’s spiny armor, Giorgio Armani’s black velvet, and Dolce & Gabbana’s ribbon weavings and Schiaparelli pinks were all featured on men before women.

“Since we pretty much design the collections simultaneously, what is inspiring us at the moment could appear throughout our work regardless if it is women’s or men’s,” though not always, said Domenico Dolce. “The Dolce & Gabbana woman and man don’t live in separate worlds.”

“On the contrary, they share similar interests, taste and way of living,” added Stefano Gabbana.

And later, when the collections are juxtaposed in brands’ flagships, they need to complement each other.

Gucci’s fall shows transported both genders to an Eighties New Wave dance club where the patrons dripped with Lurex, lamé, colorful references to Memphis design, and serious attitude.

“I develop the men’s collection before the women’s, but I always try to create a feeling that links the two,” said Gucci designer Frida Giannini. “To me, they are a couple, and it’s important to maintain a connection between them. It is a good couple to see together.” She works with distinct inspirations for each, “as they do have different personalities, but I like to build a connection between the Gucci man and woman,” she said.

Jil Sander creative director Raf Simons doesn’t deliberately forge a relationship between his man and woman, but it nonetheless arises sometimes, as in the latest collections, both remarkable for their sculpted curvature.

“I see no systematic need [for their togetherness in] my work,” he said. “But sometimes we work on an approach that is for both collections strong and challenging, as for the last fall-winter. There the development of shapes was essential for the women’s and men’s.”

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