Guillaume Meilland, the newly appointed Salvatore Ferragamo men’s design director

Guillaume Meilland, the newly appointed Salvatore Ferragamo men’s design director, presented his first show today. To mark the occasion, he hit the refresh button, starting from a redesign of the show space, giving it a more open, industrial feel, which suited the collection’s streamlined, urban allure. It also set the tone for his attitude toward the Florentine house’s codes: respectful, but not reverential.
Meilland cut his teeth on menswear at Saint Laurent during Stefano Pilati’s tenure, before departing for Lanvin, where he worked with Lucas Ossendrijver for roughly eight years. It’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about French allure. Yet the Italian flair for elegance and the absolute excellence of its savoir faire fascinates him. “I’d like to bridge the Italian sartorial finesse with a modern sportswear edge, as well as blending traditional techniques with new technologies,” he said at a preview a few days before the show. He professed his admiration for Salvatore Ferragamo, the house’s maestro, whose curiosity and open spirit he found inspiring: “He was up to explore and experiment, finding new ways to inject his Italian sense of luxe with an international approach.”
Meilland worked on streamlining the silhouette, elongating coats, slimming and narrowing pants, and shortening jackets’ proportions. Volumes were given a light, supple feel, which didn’t detract from a dry architectural bent that revealed the designer’s penchant for a sharp, modern edge. He kept it in check, though, smoothing it with an emphasis on a precise yet subtle sensuality and the use of the finest fabrics, elements so ingrained in many Italian menswear companies, they’re even more sacred than the national anthem.
For all his fascination with Italian classy elegance, Meilland couldn’t help but put Serge Gainsbourg’s “New York USA” on the soundtrack. It underlined the urban feel that he favored, and the energy that he tried to inject into the collection. Outerwear had the lion’s share, with elongated city coats or more structured belted trenches. Suits were reworked, shortening the jackets and pairing them with narrow, cropped pants for décontracté tailoring. Knitwear was chunky, hand-knitted, and looked luxurious. The color palette was mainly kept dark, with occasional flashes of color. Overall, Meilland was off to a good, confident start; he got the house’s codes quite right.