The nineties revival, it seems, is gaining not only momentum, but credibility. A couple of years ago it was confined to a few jokey London womenswear shows packed with printed t-shirts and dodgy denim. How times have changed - this season, that nineties vibe appears to have infiltrated the big-business Milan menswear shows, an arena hardly known for avant-garde invention and risk-taking. Then again, Italo Zucchelli's offerings for Calvin Klein have never been run-of-the-mill. In the six years he's been at the company, Zucchelli has garnered a reputation for fabric innovation and technological experimentation, albeit crafted into the eminently palatable classic two-piece suit, or those archetypal sportswear pieces that are the touchstone of the Calvin Klein brand.
For Spring/Summer 2011, sportswear seemed at the forefront of Zucchelli's mind - his models marched out on wedge-soled tonal trainers, in clothes that fused city suiting with tracksuiting. Waistbands and hems were elasticated in both slippery windcheater nylon and fine wool, the latter often coloured with the pastel shades of many a Miami leisure suit. Miami seems a suitable reference point, as there were decided elements to swimwear in some of the tauter, shorter ensembles - ruched-waist bermudas were fine, but when bi-coloured lycra briefs were offered as a viable substitute for trousers, front-row eyebrows hit the hairline.
Maybe that was all about the nineties too, referencing the shock-factor of those potent, provocative - even priapic - images of Marky Mark Wahlberg letting nothing come between him and his Calvins. Wahlberg and his well-toned abdomen may very well have been at the forefront of Zucchelli's mind in some of his more outré experiments in proportion, slicing off oversized grey marl t-shirts and zip-front jackets just below the ribcage. Slung over the bared, buff torsos of his models, those chopped lengths looked nigh-on impossible for anyone without the physique of a Klein underwear demigod - but when a zippered bolero came as an outer-layer on a waist-length version, it seemed not only sensible, but drop-dead desirable. Likewise the stand-out single-breasted suit in a shade of spearmint so vibrant it literally leapt off the catwalk, and his continuing fabric experiments - flashes of shimmer outlining zips and clever plays with macro-sized salt-and-pepper tweed and windowpane-check. In the true tradition of Calvin Klein, you could imagine them selling out on any shop-floor.