* Sporty elegance at Zegna, Fendi, Burberry, Ferragamo
* Versace shocks with lace lingerie, Gucci explores archive
* "Different ways of being classic," Armani says
By Antonella Ciancio
MILAN, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Men's tailored suits took on eccentric furs, ruby pins and touches of neoprene as designers mixed traditional styles with quirkiness at Milan's autumn/winter fashion shows.
From Giorgio Armani to Prada, fashion houses offered large-shouldered coats, rubber-soled shoes and pleated trousers at presentations which ended on Tuesday.
"It is not easy to reinvent menswear tradition. There are different ways of being classic," Armani told reporters after his show, where Taiwan-born violinist Ray Chen performed.
Ermenegildo Zegna used sophisticated fabrics such as carded silk and cropped deerskin for a sporty collection of double-breasted suits and turtleneck knitwear, aimed at wealthy travellers wanting to dress comfortably.
Armani and Gucci also mixed classic looks and colours as Italian designers looked to persuade shoppers to make room in their wardrobes for garments tailored to their personality.
Orders of Italian menswear for the 2013 spring/summer season have fallen 8 percent despite demand from China, Italy's textile and fashion body Sistema Moda Italia (SMI) said in a report.
Prada offered young globetrotters straight sweaters and fitting trousers in a variety of blue, red and yellow.
"One thing is nostalgia and another is knowledge of the past," Miuccia Prada told reporters after her show, whose display space was turned into an urban loft adorned with Knoll furniture.
Informal lines inspired Fendi, which created oversized fur coats and rubber-soled shoes while British luxury brand Burberry presented its traditional raincoats in a new range of materials and colours.
Burberry on Tuesday reported forecast-beating revenue growth in the three months to end-December, helped by strong Chinese demand in the run-up to Christmas.
A rebound in China also boosted fourth-quarter sales at Salvatore Ferragamo, Chief Executive Michele Norsa told reporters on Sunday.
If most designers including PPR's Gucci preferred clean cuts for their collections, fashion houses Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Roberto Cavalli celebrated eccentric glamour.
On the top floor of a building turned into a gentlemen's club, Cavalli and his son Daniele presented sequined tuxedos, embroidered slippers and collections of bow-ties and animal-print cuff-links.
Dolce & Gabbana printed images of Madonnas and flowery motifs on garments, while designer Donatella Versace challenged men with laced lingerie worn under tuxedo jackets.