While fashion and style are normally more associated with women, men’s fashion has indeed been around for forever. Men’s clothes may not have always been as glamorous or as intricate as those made for women. However in 2015, with a progressive society on the verge of gender-normative change, the likes of the fashion industry and their outpouring of designs have also been affected. The lines between the sexes are becoming far more fluid and rightfully so, androgynous clothing is in and men’s fashion is wearable for everyone interested. So, while men’s fashion has been around for a while now, an official Men’s Fashion Week was only started in 2012. Why care? Men, women and every identifiable person in between should be able to enjoy the innovative spoils of the fashion world. Here is a roundup of some of our favorite menswear designs for the upcoming fall and winter seasons.
3.1 Phillip Lim
A conscious effort to portray scenery can be seen in the clothes Phillip Lim creates. On the runway, this scenery is evident in his choice color palettes and subtle graphics. Bomber jackets and scarves adorned with Meiji-like drawings of scantily-clad women, field and trench coats that seemed very Marlon Brando-esque — all worn by models sporting gauche baseball caps and berets, like a troop of London hoodlums straight out of a Guy Ritchie film. An endearing scruffiness marks the collection, along with a nuanced modernity. Lim's runway narrates true “street style,” combined with traits of the high fashion elite — a narrative rooted in Lim's designs and fabrics. One could consider Lim’s work as a successful discovery of the balance between the gritty vibes of downtown London, and the loud, high fashion stylings associated with establishments like Chateau Marmont; it’s a difficult mixture to perfect, and though Lim has shown his potential, his presentation leaves the audience wanting more.
Though the visual narrative of 3.1 Phillip Lim grasps the concept of street style on a surface level, there is still something to be desired. Narrative is often employed by designers looking to add excitement, but not necessarily used in the process of design. Lim’s latest collection is a shining example — the sets and scenes Lim paints with his clothes speak volumes, but leave no echo, becoming hardly memorable because of a lack of emotion in his designs. Narrative doesn’t propel the consumer to buy Lim’s clothes, but rather it's a cheap drapery adorned on his clothes as decoration, trying to sell you a pre-conceived narrative you may, or may not, enjoy. In the face of fairly original street style is a mishmash of contrived storytelling; whether or not it negates the image of Lim’s designs is still up for debate.
Overall, Lim achieves a longstanding goal while remaining true to his signature style. Speckled wool coats and leopard print jacquard topcoats had a sensual appeal; silk baseball shorts juxtaposed with biker-bomber jacket hybrids and nylon robe jackets felt “street,” but adroitly executed. Lim, with all his grandiose and urban elements, remains promiscuously playful in his designs, continuing an attitude that has permeated his work for as long as he’s been on the scene. Lim’s showing this season was promising, and hopefully a building block for what’s soon to come.
So I would endeavor to say that it’s not insane to assert that Olivier Rousteing is Balmain’s design genius. Having completely transformed the brand’s inherent identity since his 2011 start as the label’s creative director, the brand has come into the 21st century and is now a powerhouse to be reckoned with. While much of the brand’s clientele is split between women around the world and the Kardashians, since Rousteing’s arrival men now successfully account for 40 percent of the brand’s revenue, and rightfully so.
The designs seen on this season’s runway were nothing short of lavish and regal. Drawing inspiration from the phrase “Balmain Army” which has been used by Rousteing himself to describe the new cult-following and highly influential stars and starlets who stand behind the brand, this collection attempted to create new meaning behind what we already know as military valor. Donning fitted (perhaps a bit too fitted?) velvet drop-crotch pants and military double-breasted jackets embellished with yellow gold embroidery and metal, these men seem to be marching off to a different kind of war than the one many of us are used to seeing.
Displaying the edgy trends we previously saw in women’s couture week, and are sure to see with the start of NYFW, there were no shortage of tassles, fur vests and plaid. Reminiscent of what one would see men wearing in the 18th century, thick belts, white tunics and knee high boots were also among the soldiers of this army. Deep red, navy, black and this year’s “it color” camel were included in the palette this season. Who said deep V’s were only for women? Tops with these v-low v-necks were paired with sleek long blazers and patterns of all sorts from check and stripes to the newly resurrected plaid (not sure how I feel about that last one).
While the collection is high fashion and Balmain at its core, my one critique would be: How wearable is it? It is no secret that the brand caters to a high profile clientele; however, even I would find it difficult to imagine an event where such artistic and historically preserved designs would find their true place.
Style revivals are a regular practice among fashion houses, and for good reason. Nostalgia has a knack for drawing attention in the fashion scene, especially when the industry shuffles through trends at a ravenous pace. Critiques of revival often bring up the problematic reasoning behind it — that it tends to be employed by designers who run out of (or flat out lack) inspiration, serving as a cheap means to an end for garnering collection attention. In his latest iteration of his signature “subversive preppy” style, Thom Browne turns that idea upside the head, celebrating the former glory of England’s industrial era. Browne fashions his runway into a time machine, using nostalgia as an effective vehicle for the aesthetic that he crafts. Chronicling the various mediums of dress among England’s early 20th century male population, Browne paints artful portraits of the ragged, distressed and pristine clothing found during that time. He does this without too heavily using the past as the backbone for his looks — the clothes are reminiscent of a “previous time,” without needing to rely on visual anachronisms to prop up the style he pursues.
Coupled with his exploration of the various socioeconomic styles of industrial England, Browne featured a variety of topcoats, raincoats, overcoats and bowler hats for each look. Though simple in what the pieces fundamentally were, the style in which Browne presented his clothes, his playful juxtaposition of ragged and crisp patterns and his use of deep, dark hues of blue and gray all called to life an old-fashioned penchant for grandiosity often lacking in fashion nowadays. Unintentional evocations of images and memories associated with the stereotypical English aesthetic come to mind. Among them: leather wingback chairs, tea-dunked shortbreads and the ashes and dust of working-class Birmingham.
In an industry that lusts after youthful appearance, Browne paints a figurative middle finger to the conventions of his colleagues and embraces the sophisticated dilapidation of industrial England, creating a brand of clothing entrenched in the surrealism of the past rather than the formulaic, tried-and-true variations of fashion that people are often used to seeing on the runway. His mismatched patchwork and planned use of distress often comes off as more “perfect” than the clean and untouched fabrics found in other designers’ looks. Describing Browne’s clothes textually in this collection doesn’t do his collection much justice, but just as it is with fine art, sometimes there’s more beauty in only being able to understand the ingenuity of an artist visually.
Why, oh why did I choose to review this collection? Well, because upon first watching the anticipated runway show, I felt like I had been transported to a far classier version of Woodstock. Some explanation — the 1970s has made its way onto the high-end runways of today and onto the backs of the average fashion consumer of 2016. Representing a decade of fringe, peace, bellbottoms and a shit-ton of drugs, much like Rousteing, Peter Dundas, creative director of the Roberto Cavalli brand, took a page out of the history books for this collection. However unlike Rousteing, it is from a different chapter entirely.
With the resurfacing of the ’70s comes with it all of the little extras, and by that I mean the long, shaggy hairstyles, as well as the fashion that often has no rhyme or reason. Long leopard print coats paired with patterned sweaters and a scarf with no lack of fringe — these looks were carefully curated. As if stepping right out of a time capsule, everything about these looks fit the era completely.
Including a musty yellow snakeskin bomber, a very mod mauve colored pantsuit (equipped with the right amount of ’70s flare at the hem), this collection is a pure commitment to the theme. With no designs falling out of line or models drudging off course, Dundas is true to his self-designed mission. A personal favorite, and perhaps the most unwearable at the same time, were the denim bellbottoms paired with a matching denim jean jacket. However that description does not do it justice, lest we forget about the fact that both pieces are severely ornamented from head to toe with what I would call a psychedelic paisley print that would even put Farah Fawcett’s infamous fringed ’70s hairstyle in its place.
Peter Dundas took a risk while creating this collection; however, I commend him for sticking to his inspirations and letting the clothes speak for themselves. In a line that needs little explanation, it fully represents a decade not only making a comeback today in fashion, but one that many of us today have not been able to experience in full form. Roberto Cavalli’s FW16 menswear collection allows us to visually take in a piece of the psychedelic ’70s in a very iconic way.