MILAN, Italy — The latest "first" for Barack Obama comes off the Milan runway.
Calling the U.S. presidential hopeful "the man of the moment," Donatella Versace dedicated her Spring-Summer 2009 collection presented Saturday evening to Obama, creating a style she said was designed for "a relaxed man who doesn't need to flex muscles to show he has power."
Chatting with reporters in the cool of the garden of her private palazzo in downtown Milan at an after-show dinner party, the designer also had some fashion tips for the campaign trail. "I would get rid of the tie and jazz up the shirt," she said.
In fact, there were no ties in Donatella's latest show, and shirts under jackets were either super easy with rolled up sleeves or replaced by a silk T-shirt.
The new Versace suit has a structured jacket softened by a double lapel or no lapel at all and slim trousers with slick techno-fabric sheen. Crazy zigzags break up the monotony of pinstripes and checks, while the pastel palette gives the collection a warm summer feel.
Sitting in the front row, actor Rupert Everett applauded enthusiastically, showing that even if it was not dedicated to him, he found the collection right up his alley.
Overall, this round of "moda Milanese" menswear preview collections, which ends Wednesday, promises to be all about chilling out, a refreshing thought in a Milan in the grip of this summer's first heat wave.
The relaxed feel of the collections is epitomized by the return of the unlined jacket, which, when coupled with wide loose trousers, creates a casual yet elegant summer suit.
Right at home with this look was Tomas Maier, the creative director at Bottega Veneta, who presented his collection Sunday morning.
From the ultra soft pajama jacket to the classic blazer, to the white shantung silk dinner jacket, the idea is to keep a guy stylish and comfortable throughout the day. Novelty comes in the "double jacket" which appears to have separate layers, creating a two-jackets-in-one effect.
"If you think about the gap in menswear between a tailored suit and a T-shirt and jeans, it's filled by the jacket," Maier says in his show notes.
Ultra-soft trousers with well-defined cuff, cool khaki and pastel shades, loafers and saddle shoes, and the latest men's shopping bag in Bottega's exquisite leather complete the collection's casual chic.
Sunday afternoon, Giorgio Armani presented his second line Emporio collection aimed at a younger customer.
The first part of the show reflected the current return of the jacket and suit, with the added attraction of the vest, either as part of the suit or on its own. Here the designer was tops, but then suit tailoring comes naturally to the maestro who invented the unlined jacket back in the 1970's. An Armani suit is a must in the closets of the rich and famous.
The second half of the show, dedicated to sportswear, strayed from this tradition. Ruffled surfing shorts and rubberized _ or were they patent leather? _ Bermudas made one yearn for Armani the tailor.
Earlier Saturday, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana underlined the relaxed feel of these previews with a series of silk bathrobes and boxer shorts _ the utmost in the luxury of indolence.
Models walked down the runway of the designers' theater in downtown Milan wearing pinstriped suits as loose and easy as silk pajamas. Their horn-rimmed eyeglasses and leather sandals told a tale of a contemporary business man who can combine beach and office with ease.
When home he might be lucky enough to find his better half in a Dolce&Gabbana robe number, just like the one Naomi Campbell flaunted for the show's finale.
Also showing Saturday, Christopher Bailey for Burberry embraced the easy life for next summer wrinkling everything from jacket to trench coat before it gets crumpled in a suitcase or soaked in the rain.
Typically British, the summer Burberry man can't part with his cardigan _ this round so light it can hardly be called sensible _ and his traditional hat, the latest version a cross between Paddington Bear and a scarecrow.
To complete the first day of showings, the minimalist Jil Sander label presented its take on the current casual look: Jackets cut close to the body in color blocks like a Mondrian print with zippers instead of buttons for an extra cool fit.