Umit Benan thinks the eighties were the quintessence of cool. He missed the decade—he was barely born—but he’s been playing catch-up with his collections. His latest, for instance, was a salute to Nino Cerruti, who helped define men’s style that decade. With his sterling grasp of stagecraft, Benan mounted his presentation as an imagined leisurely lunch in Lake Como decades hence, when Nino’s grandson Oscar has his friends over and they’re all wearing clothes borrowed from their grandfathers. A sort of future vintage, if you will. Those who remembered the eighties might have recognized the oversize shirts and high-waisted, three-pleat pants (those who remembered Benan’s Fall presentation would have recognized them, too). They also might have noted something familiar about the big windowpane checks, the casual jackets with sleeves pushed up John Taylor-style, the safari number that Benan insisted was “a cult piece of the eighties,” and even the color palette, which reintroduced a particular shade of yellow and brick red from way back then.
If there wasn’t much that spoke about menswear now, Benan has always been quick to reject the notion of “fashion” in favor of his own brand of confident, unconventional elegance. Cerruti himself (who was in attendance) attributed it to what he felt was a designer’s most valuable asset: a point of view. And Benan’s has been unwavering. His new creative role at Trussardi would suggest the outside world is waking up to him at last. Add to that Cerruti’s blessing and the young Turk might be turning into a standard-bearer for the next generation of Italian menswear designers.