The contrast between generations is the main theme of the Spring/Summer 2012 menswear collection by Umit Benan. The range of garments, under the name ‘Third Generation Italians’ is intended to embody the memory of sartorial heritage and a relaxed Italian style handed down through generations, while revealing Benan’s formative Turkish influences.
Born to Turkish parents in 1980 in Stuttgart, Germany, Umit Benan moved to Istanbul when he was two years old. He lived there until the age of 15, dividing his time between school and work at his family’s textile company. After graduating from secondary school in Lugano, Switzerland, he moved to Boston at the age of 18 to study Marketing and Public Relations. During this time he decided to become a fashion designer and spent his summers in Milan taking drawing lessons. Upon earning his degree, Benan moved to Milan to enrol in a Master’s programme in Fashion Design at the Marangoni Institute. Over the subsequent two years he alternated between styling courses at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London and long periods at his father’s side in Istanbul learning all about textile techniques.
At 24, he returned to the US and enrolled in the pattern making course at Parsons The New School for Design. In 2009, after gaining some work experience with a few fashion designers, he launched his eponymous label Umit Benan, and his second collection won the first men’s edition of the Who’s On Next competition organized by Alta Roma in cooperation with Pitti Immagine and L’Uomo Vogue.
For Spring/Summer 2012, Benan devised ‘Third Generation Italians’ as a reference to the inspirational first-generation style and elegance as embodied by Nino Cerruti, a friend and mentor who supported Benan in his change of stylistic direction for this new season. Cerruti stands for a philosophy that comes from the past to inspire Benan in the present, as the aesthetic vision of a world of children, fathers and grandfatheres of privileged Italian families.
In a photo show conceived as the first step for the collection, Benan describes Nino Cerruti’s lifestyle, portraying moments of relaxation or work between Cerruti and his children and closest friends, within the context of the Lanificio (wool mill). This atmosphere then gave way to imaginary future scenes where teens of the third generation (the protagonists of modern time) gather on a hot Summer afternoon in garments borrowed or inspired by ‘old school’ style in an assertive, yet naively timeless natural approach.
The palette is characterized by bright colours such as yellow, burgundy and strawberry red, alongside more traditional Summer shades such as navy blue, denim and cream, with graphics of micro dots, macro checks and vintage stripes.
The fabrics, from the Lanificio Cerruti, are as natural and pure as possible: silk, linen, cotton, fine wool, viscose, and leather. As for the adopted silhouette, the concept of oversize and casual stretching is predominant in an hour-glass shape that emphasizes the upper part of the body while remaining close-fitting on the hips and once again looser in the lower part. To stress this shape and suggest a concept of relaxed and comfortable masculine style, the square lines of the broad and well-defined shoulders are interrupted by airy and fluid trousers. Other features of the collection include high-waisted trousers, deconstructed shirts, Bermuda shorts with a minimal shape, safari jackets, and casual jackets inspired by pyjama tops.
The Third Generation Italians’ dressing style is intended to reflect a timeless, yet modern contrast between a still undefined personality and a serious attitude, between physical immaturity and a measured adult dressing style. The old-fashioned style is revealed in a modern interpretation of fashion where luxury is exalted and underlined by a simplicity veering on casual.