Only rarely do you encounter issues in life that are more pressing than fashion, but sometimes, nonetheless, you do. One of those affecting a member of the Alexander McQueen team—since 100% happily resolved—meant that this presentation took place later than usual, and in Milan for the first time in three years.

Interestingly, this collection hit different in a city where, unlike London, tailoring remains a very well and widely worn pillar of menswear. The founder’s formative experience on Savile Row continues to influence this house deeply, and of the 31 looks here 18 of them featured a tailored double-breasted jacket or coat. Look 24 even contained both. Unlike Milan’s soft, single-breasted, and overwhelmingly navy sartorial dialect, this collection was predominantly black or charcoal and defined by unusual flourishes in silhouette. These, you’d wager, will likely spill over into the next womenswear collection we’ll see in Paris. Almost ubiquitous was a narrow black leather tie: James Bondage.

Some of those shapely flourishes included the rounded shoulders in the opening black coat, look 4’s suit, and look 28’s deconstructed ceremonial regalia jacket. There were collar-details and highly unreachable pockets in the extended skirts on two rethought frock coats in black pinstripe and gray sharkskin. More conventionally cut double-breasteds, fitted with close precision, were shown above Sarah Burton’s very proper variations of the short shorts that we saw across the collections this menswear season. Elsewhere Burton strained against the conventional boundaries of tailoring by countering its defined silhouette with defiantly abstract fold prints in jacquard and embroidery realized in partnership with old school McQueen collaborator Simon Ungless.

These entirely non-figurative patterns placed on Burton’s masculine figures were countered by a sally into chiaroscuro inspired flower embroideries—which could have been roses or Rorschash—on a gorgeous white cotton suit. These in turn led to the crochet knit flower vests that, thanks to some liver colored fronts, vaguely resembled the anatomically revealing dolls once supersized by Damian Hirst. Then, in a regal printed cape and flap-fronted bow-tied parka, the wearer was empowered entirely to blossom beyond tailoring’s tightly defined bouquet. This Milan expat and suiting skeptic swooned hardest at the zip-up biker trench hybrid in look 24 that would, with wear, tell its own story about the wearer. Although it happened by chance, this return of Burton’s design to the country where most of this collection is made proved a happy cameo.

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