Leather always tends to be big news for winter menswear - perhaps because, shown in the middle of January, it's actually still fairly chilly outside, hence the thought of battening down the hatches with cosy layers of shearling, calf and ponyskin has a potent appeal. It also, of course, taps in to the basest of hunter-gatherer tendencies, of Neolithic man clubbing beasts and defending the homestead in roughly-hewn layers of hide. There was only something vaguely along those lines was evident at the Trussardi 1911 show, where creative director Milan Vukmirovic sent out a collection more Bauhaus than Bedrock, but still created entirely from animal skin in his first catwalk collection for the house. PETA-enraging, perhaps, but there was more to this message than just leather - it was about tapping into brand identity, namely the fact that Trussardi 1911 was founded a century ago as a glove and luxury leather-goods manufacturer for Italy's elite.
Vukmirovic's decision to play up on those old-school, hide-heavy associations was a canny one - it also pulled him back from some of the excess that has marked (and sometimes marred) his collections for Trussardi 1911 over the past three years as creative director. Gone was the gilt and glitz, replaced with a minimal slant, monochrome colour palette and boys marching out in heavy-soled shiny-leather beaver boots. Vukmirovic was head honcho at Jil Sander back in 2002, and there was a certain hangover from Sander's clean-and-mean aesthetic: side-swiped hair, sleek zipper details and lots of shiny skin. As stated, everything was leather - and we really mean everything, from the classic chunky shearling coats and Perfectos through to buttery suede shirts and knit-effect woven-leather ponchos. Those were amongst the most impressive outings - a biker jacket is easy, especially versus a tissue-fine v-neck t-shirt in white kid, or fluttering parkas printed to look like camouflage nylon, but actually executed in nappa leather.
It was when Vukmirovic began pushing the boundaries of our perceptions of leather that the collection got interesting, and really demonstrated the technical aptitude of the Trussardi 1911 workrooms. The clothing design seemed to play second fiddle to this: the sportswear shapes were simple, straightforward and familiar, but that was why their material had such impact. It didn't feel like a giant leap for mankind, but it certainly felt like something new for Trussardi, while similarly attesting to the house's grand traditions. That's a difficult tightrope act, but Vukmirovic walked it adroitly.