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Milan runways resplendent with Bermuda shorts for next summer, baggy or tailored

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MILAN - From day one, it is clear that Bermuda shorts are the essential piece for next summer.

The runways of Milan were packed with menswear looks built around Bermudas, baggy or tailored, but always above the knee. The shorts are proving versatile. They go with jackets, ample overcoats, or for the truly buff, nothing at all.

The bare leg offers resplendent choices for footwear, from sturdy sandals to buckskin or woven leather shoes. Designers have gravitated toward dark socks for summer — no longer taboo. The formula reverses with long pants: then it's no socks.

Men won't have to wait for casual Fridays to wear shorts to the office. These are highly tailored and completely suitable.

This edition of Milan Fashion week features 78 designers — more than in recent seasons — with a concerted effort to highlight young talent. Four young designers — two Italians, a German and a Chinese — are making their runway debuts this week.

ZEGNA

Stefano Pilati's inaugural collection for Ermenegildo Zegna invites men to roll up their sleeves.

Pilati, who arrived at Zegna from Yves Saint Laurent, inventively fit contrasting scrunchy, crumpled cuffs, at times suggestive of armbands, on tailored jackets, coats and fine sweaters. In another twist, shirt cuffs were folded over elbow-length sleeves on finely knit sweaters, layered again with a longer scrunched-up sleeve.

But if there was a roll-up-your-sleeves ethic to the designs, the industry they suggest is without toil: The summer 2014 collection presented on the first day of Milan Fashion Week is for the man whose productivity is not at the expense of his composure.

The collection was full of rich detail. Voluminous overcoats were worn over suits, while more fitted coats were cinched at the waist.

Pilati tucked well-pressed silken scarves inside collars for some tie-less looks; in another flourish, a wrap or towel, held in the hand, might trail the floor. For more casual moments, there were shorts, some with the appearance of silk boxers peeking out.

JIL SANDER

Jil Sander's menswear collection for spring/summer 2014 has Bermudas so wide and loose they resemble culottes, while slim-cropped trousers accentuate the looseness of the ultra-light overcoats. Extra-wide cuffs on Bermudas and jackets lend an oversize effect to the entire collection.

In the shoe department, white buckskins worn with short black socks contribute to the yesteryear feel of the summer look.

Sander embraces what from the start of the week seems to be a strong summer trend on the Milan runway: the summer suit with a snug jacket paired with Bermuda shorts. Adding a little hot weather flare, she fashions her new suit in such daring colours —especially for the no-nonsense designer — as apricot, fuchsia and cranberry.

White as well as black and white floral prints play a strong role in the latest collection by the German designer, who last year reclaimed the reins of her eponymous fashion house, founded in 1968.

DOLCE&GABBANA

Against a soundtrack of romantic orchestral music and the backdrop of a twisted old olive tree, the Dolce&Gabbana collection presented Saturday referenced Sicily's architectural wonders, natural beauty and native fauna.

The designing duo Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana stamped their creations with images of ancient Greek temples and pastoral countryside scenes, imprinted across three-piece suits and loose top-and-shorts combinations. The renderings are in black-and-white and colour, creating a tapestry effect.

Dolce&Gabbana's Sicily is both formal and restrained, requiring suits that can be bold in shimmering red or blue, or simply sombre black, and casual and lusty, with roughly woven drawstring pants or Bermuda shorts worn with nothing at all.

VERSACE

Donatella Versace's latest menswear collection was based on athletic themes from boxing to swimming to colorful muscle patches like those worn by tennis players.

In fact the muscle patch was the leitmotif of the Versace spring/summer 2014 collection, with models wearing more than one in fluorescent shades on their arms and legs for a tattoo effect. The patch patterns were repeated on T-shirts, shorts, jackets, and pants.

The boxing theme came in a robe with a huge green fluorescent Medusa — the Versace trademark — on the back, and silk shorts. This summer, Versace swimwear is so brief it risks getting the wearer into real hot water.

Along with all the sporty stuff, the blonde designer showed a series of nearly classic suits, were it not for the gilded zip pockets and funky leather detail.

NEIL BARRETT

British designer Neil Barrett's look for next summer works with shape and colour blocks. There's a clean simplicity to the looks that keep them cutting edge, somewhere between avant-garde and sci-fi.

The colour palate is simple, black and white, a milky shade, and then reds, and muted monochrome greys, olives and khakis that he mixes and matches. Barrett uses prints, mostly blocks and oversized checks, and rounded panels, to give movement to the collection.

Suits come with Bermuda shorts and loose open jackets, or a more fitted look with a red checked coat over slim black pants. Shorts are worn with dark ankle socks paired with dark shoes. Pants go sockless.

ANDREA POMPILIO

Andrea Pompilio mixes Italian tailoring with American casual for his first Milan runway collection.

The 39-year-old Italian is one of four young designers showing runway shows in Milan for the first time, and Pompilio had the additional honour of being invited to use Giorgio Armani's theatre for his show — the first time he has opened his runway to another designer.

"Mr. Armani started the same way: American sportswear meets Italian tailoring. I think this is something we have in common," Pompilio said.

The spring/summer 2014 collection contained a panoply of patterns — stripes, paisley, geometric blocks — that can be mixed and matched randomly.

Pompilio has designed the wardrobe for the city-hopping traveller, bold enough to wear a black and rust striped double breasted suit with slim-fitting trousers one day, and silk paisley Bermudas mismatched with a patterned jacket the next.

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