Brief encounters: short shorts in the spotlight at Gucci menswear show

<span>A model walks the runway at Gucci men’s spring/summer 2025 show during Milan fashion week.</span><span>Photograph: Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for Gucci</span>
A model walks the runway at Gucci men’s spring/summer 2025 show during Milan fashion week.Photograph: Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for Gucci

Gird your loins. The main missive from the Gucci menswear show in Milan on Monday afternoon was that short shorts are sliding up the style charts for summer. Out of 46 of the looks shown, 41 featured shorts hovering around the 3in and 5in inseam mark. One model’s look even consisted of just a pair of slick leather shorts in Gucci’s signature “Ancora Rosso” oxblood colour. On the front row, the Irish actor Paul Mescal added to the mood wearing a softly striped cotton pair from the brand that at first glance could have been mistaken for boxers.

While Mescal was named an official ambassador for the Italian brand last October, he has also become the unofficial face/legs of the short shorts trend. He was one of the first to thrust micro shorts into the spotlight when he was pictured circa 2020 in a pair from his local GAA team (Gaelic Athletic Association), an Irish sporting organisation that Mescal previously played football for. Since then “thigh guy summer” has become a popular hashtag on social media and now Gucci has elevated the trend to high fashion.

Held at the Triennale Milano, a sprawling design and art museum in Lombardy, the show was the third men’s collection under the stewardship of Sabato de Sarno, who was named creative director in January 2023. Serena and Venus Williams alongside De Sarno’s parents joined Mescal on the front row, which comprised individual lacquered and cornichon-coloured box-shaped seats set against the backdrop of the Triennale’s vast literature section. The brand also invited 400 students from Milan’s fashion and design schools.

While his first two collections were a hard reset after the maximalism of his predecessor, Alessandro Michele, De Sarno’s third menswear show for Gucci hinted that classic simplicity does not always have to be so subdued. “This collection speaks of encounters – incontri – between the city and the beach, and among people who love life. Ultimately, it speaks about freedom,” the Naples-born designer wrote in his show notes.

On his mood board was William Finnegan’s autobiography Barbarian Days, which explores Finnegan’s lifelong love of surfing, described by him as “not a sport but a path”. Shirts and matching shorts featured motifs of surfers carving along surging waves while others were peppered with jumping bottlenose dolphins and hibiscus flowers. Jackets and polo shirts hand-knitted with paillettes or shimmering beading, the colour of seafoam whites and greens, moved in almost a wavelike motion as the models stomped down the catwalk.

There were plenty of classic pieces too such as double-breasted tailored suits but styling touches such as the glimpse of a mesh top underneath a blazer gave them a modern rather than traditional feel. Accessories are a hot-ticket item at Gucci and are often the first purchase a customer will make. This time around the Gucci B, a crossbody bag introduced in De Sarno’s first collection, came in a mini-sized version, while pillowy-soft handheld bags in Calippo orange and yellows will be catnip on social media. There were also slick horsebit boots and loafers with knife-sharp pointed toes alongside moulded scuba-esque slip-ons – a spin on the mesh ballet flat trend that is huge in womenswear.

Earlier in the day the doyen of Italian fashion Giorgio Armani unveiled his latest collection at his gargantuan Milan headquarters that includes a purpose-built show venue and exhibition space. This season the catwalk was set against a sepia-toned video of wafting palm fronds, a precursor of a collection that riffed on the areca. One section was dedicated to loosely cut T-shirts, shirts and trousers featuring softly focused photographic prints of palm trees and leaves. Armani was a pioneer of classic tailoring: loosely pleated trousers that sat low on the hips were a nod to the early days of his label that he launched in 1975.

In July, Armani will celebrate his 90th birthday. While his Italian counterparts including Versace have been scooped up by luxury conglomerates, Armani remains the sole proprietor of his brand. In 2022 the group’s revenue reached €2.35bn, with revenue climbing 18% year on year in the first quarter of 2023. In an interview with Bloomberg in April Armani said: “Independence from large groups could still be a driving value for the Armani group in the future, but I don’t feel I can rule anything out.”