luca bruno/associated press


Models lounge in style during the Valentino Spring/Summer 2008 men’s collection, presented this week in Milan.


Canadian twins Dean, left, and Dan Caten acknowledge the applause of the audience after presenting their Dsquared2 Spring/Summer 2008 men’s collection this week in downtown Milan.

Italian designers seem to be on a mission to get guys to dress up again.

Gone from the current round of menswear for the summer 2008 are the baggy, low-waisted jeans, tank tops, shorts and running shoes which dominated the fashion scene for a number of seasons. The new look instead is all about jackets and ties, tailored trousers and formal footwear.

“Today’s generation of young men wants to look good,” Valentino said backstage after his show, which featured impeccably, slightly retro-dressed youths, sipping cocktails at an unidentified beach club.

Over the years, the Valentino label has become synonymous with elegance. Next month in Rome, the designer plans to celebrate 45 years in the business with three days of events including a fashion show and a black tie dinner.

The guys Valentino has in mind for next summer are sophisticated fellows who barely turned their heads when a group of Parisian strippers danced topless behind them on the catwalk.

“Good clothes help a man feel sure of himself,” Valentino said.

The latest Valentino collection includes couture cut suits, butterfly-printed nylon blousons, cashmere knit cardigans and dinner jackets in cotton pique.

A silk kerchief around the neck at times replaces a tie, and loafers are worn without socks. The colour palette is classic, except for a few strokes of peach and purple.

Earlier, the fun-loving Canadian twins Dean and Dan Caten took the fashion crowd for a tour of Formula 1 fashion.

But despite the mechanics’ jumpsuits, drivers’ helmets and caps and the bomber jackets, the show had a top-drawer feel to it.

Elegance is a new fashion trick for the designing pair, who just a year ago presented jeans so low waisted the models had to hold them up while walking down the catwalk.

Giorgio Armani, on the other hand, has always been at home with elegance.

His second line Emporio collection spoke of a man who likes his fashion, but also his fun. Cardigans and blazers are interchangeable. Both have slim lapels and single buttoning and often come in iridescent fabrics, the latest summer fad.

Trousers tend to be tapered, with some styles reminiscent of riding pants. Pullovers have a cowl neckline or an off-one-shoulder style, and often replace the jacket. There are few shirts in the collection, but jackets can be worn over a bare torso. More often than not, Armani trades in the conservative necktie for a trendy little kerchief tied around the neck.

The favourite new print is a turtle shell pattern, which shows up on anything from a T-shirt to formal evening attire.

If the style at Armani hints at macho, it’s all about the meek and mild at Prada with effete adolescents meandering through an Italian garden maze, projected on mega screens, in foliage-printed jumpsuits.

The issue here is not elegance but image, with the new Prada silhouette presented Sunday evening so minimalist it can do little to enhance masculine self-assurance.

Trousers in the new collection are often knit and worn close to the body like long underwear. Jackets in drab grey are long and skinny — a perfect match with the waif-like short-sleeved checkered shirts worn underneath.