Sport is on everyone's minds for next spring. Then again, it's one of those evergreen, oft-reiterated summertime references that you inevitably greet with a wry smile and a roll of the eyes. Frida Giannini's tackled it before in her Gucci collections: remember that go-faster womenswear bristling with metallic-tipped laces and trussed up with elastic? Today her men got the high-performance treatment for 2012.
Well, kind of. Giannini seemed to be looking backwards, not forwards - her invite had a terribly swinging sixties op-art re-interpretation of the snaffle splashed across the front, and her men seemed to filch half their wardrobe from the still-traditional garb of the equestrian. Trousers closed with buttons like elongated jodhpurs (thankfully slimmed to skim the thigh), jackets a polished take on the tweed blazer, sometimes with buckled poacher's pockets, or narrow-shouldered high-waisted blousons. A few anoraks looked slightly mod with those slender legs, even with sporty toggles dangling at the ends. The sport they belonged to was deliberately vague: the abstract concept was enough.
However, what to do after night? Sportsmen may like to get their eight hours a night, but the Gucci man would rather spend seven-and-a-half of those downing mojitos in a Milan nightspot. Giannini loves an evening look, so she didn't see any reason for a theme to get in her way. She sent out a dozen tuxedos to close, knotted at the neck with a fat satin bow but below that a riot of monochrome tartan, lame and lurex-threaded brocade. Perhaps Giannini was inspired by snaps of seventies sports stars uncomfortably suited-up at awards ceremonies? Intentional or not there was a touch of whimsy to these looks that gave them an added appeal.
The evening looks indeed stood out in a collection that was otherwise profoundly safe; nondescript even. Haven't we seen enough skinny jeans, skinny suits, skinny overcoats over the past decade - on catwalks and high streets alike - to realise that it takes more than pumping out another version in a new hyper-luxe fabric to catch people's attentions? Giannini's prom-night redux tux isn't new, granted, but at least it had a stand-out point of view. The rest of this collection felt like commercial fodder: so why pump it out onto a catwalk? Fashion shouldn't have to shout for attention, but in a packed Milan schedule you want to see a show strong enough to make a real statement.