Armani has cancelled but Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada have opted for live shows at Men's Fashion Week in Milan, which kicks off Friday amid a fresh wave of coronavirus.
Despite hopes of a return to normal after two years of the pandemic, the northern Italian city has been forced to adopt a "phygital" programme this weekend, with some houses showing off their collections in person and others going digital.
Giant Giorgio Armani's decision last week to cancel its shows in Milan and Paris sparked gloom.
But 16 brands including some of the biggest will have live shows -- with guests wearing an FFP2 mask and showing proof of vaccination -- while 18 others are keeping it virtual.
The rest will present their fall-winter 2022-2023 collections by appointment only.
Instead of the lazy clothes loved in the pandemic, when millions worked from home, designers are focusing on the return to the outdoors world, according to trends watcher Federica Trotta Mureau.
For many fashion houses "the new elegant look is 'overshirts', very loose and flowing sweaters that perfectly replace shirts", the editor-in-chief of the Italian fashion magazine Mia Le Journal told AFP.
"The stars of the new collections are oversized down jackets that protect against the cold, as well as padded nylon pants."
Bright colours and patterns are in, perhaps to cheer wearers after months of pandemic adversity, but also monochromatic outfits "with touches of terracotta".
After the woes of 2020, when Italy grappled with a punishing pandemic and virus restrictions, Italian fashion revenue is expected to have grown by 20.5 percent to nearly 83 billion euros ($95 billion) in 2021.
The shows open with Ermenegildo Zegna, which in December made its debut on Wall Street, becoming the first Italian fashion house to be listed in New York.
"The world is changing and so is the way people dress. Formal is becoming informal, high end," CEO Gildo Zegna said at the time.
"We have given our brand a new direction, based on 'luxury leisurewear', which generates good results."