Tuesday, May 15, 2007



showing for the first time across the pond to the bigger stage that is new york city, kim jones showed a more mature collection that was still infused with all the athletic references that has become his trademark. this is truly "sportswear" defined to a tee, literally. what was pleasantly suprising about this collection was the amount of work wear options he showed. there were smartly tailored jackets, trousers and coats that he cut loose or looser. shearlings were worked into coats, pants and being kim jones, there was an eccentric shearling jump suit. as all of kim jone's collection, this was a very young collection. youth is what drives him. and not just the youth of today, but the youth of decades past. this is the guy who perhaps owns the most concise record of underground 80s london fashion with all his vintage treasures that once belonged to leigh bowery or from seditionaries. all these influences shows through the clothes. there is a sense of rebellion, not a violent one, but a sense of finding their own and not afraid of showing it and letting the world know who they are.


i am actually a really big fun of christopher bailey's menswear collections for burberry. like his womenswear collections, he has also mastered the reinterpretations of the burberry signature to menswear. this season, bailey was one of a handfull of designers experimenting with a new proportion. tops were longer, almost tunic-like, shown purposely peeking out of jackets and coats. the military references touched every detail of the coats, with epaulets, english naval collars, and uniformic pockets, but done in a thoroughly english way. a bit mod with the slimmer fits and cropped pants. bailey's evolution in the house of burberry has progressively been more and more confident. it appears that he's in the groove, and lucky for us, we get to see it.

mcqueen has experimented with the future before. while he was designing for givenchy he showed one of his best collections for that house with all the blade runner references and peaked shoulders. it appears to have bit him again this season. although you can sense a little element of jude law's suave robot character from the movie i-robot. and that suaveness showed through mcqueen's impecable tailoring. its no question that he is one of the most technical tailors out there, but to really see his genius is to see the clothes he designs for men. through these garments, one can see the training he got from saville row. but his clothes are far from traditional. mcqueen's menswear has been a laboratory where he experiments with fabrics. this season's futuristic theme lended themselves to techno-fabrics like plastic, neoprene and nylon. while the natural fibres proved to be a stark contrast to the synthetic ones. even though these garments were cut to provide structure, there was a relative ease about them. they weren't constrictive, they actually moved and seemed relax. even on the plastic garments, there was a sense of lightness in them. a beautiful paradox.

it's a great time in menswear. this season, more and more designers are experimenting and looking for a modern way and more options for how men can dress. fendi, arguably, sent down one of the most experimental and influential collection. the first look out was the most concise summary of the show to come. if balenciaga ever designed menswear, this would've been the coat that would have become his tradmark. borrowing balenciaga's rounded shoulder couture coats with 3/4 open sleeves and capes paired with rich wool pants with elasticised bottom, it was a new interpretation of classic menswear. in a season rich with plays of volume, fendi demonstrated most its capability without looking too avant garde or unapproachable from a common men's point of view. these pieces weren't stricly fashion pieces. they are clothes meant to be worn, meant to be used and worked in. the experimental cuts were made understandable by a sedate colour palette, luxurious fabrication, masculine cuts and shown with more traditional pieces like a perfectly fitted single button blazer with a suede lapel, or the perfect black pea coat. also the clothes had an air of ease about them, something nonchalant and however foward thinking the cuts, it seemed easy to wear. maybe thats the whole point, it takes a certain type of man to carry this clothes with ease. someone sure of their masculinity. someone like alister mackie, who styled this collection and a perfect example of a modern man.


ive said this before, and i'll say it again, ann demeulemeester is the most criminally underrated designer working today. her romantic vision of the male ideal rivals that of hedi slimane. i would even say she is more romantic. there has always been a brooding aura around the men she sends down the catwalk. a certain intellectual aloofness that is so clearly visible in the clothes. this season she replaced her trademark asymetric cuts with a precise method of layering which provided a new sense of proportion to her clothes. while her asymetric cuts lended itself to an easier movement, here the tailoring of the pieces were reminiscent to an almost victorian dandy. they shaped the men's body to something stricter, more upright. you can imagine these clothes being worn by characters of the romanticism movement from the 19th century like mary shelly's "frankenstein". however these clothes weren't horrific, but almost achingly beautiful. there's a sense of love in them. just like in her women's collection, her vision is so distinct, so fully hers that it feels like she longs to see her creations loved by the people who buy them. and for that, i say she has nothing to worry about.

in my humble opinion, hedi slimane single handedly dictated how men dress today. when he first emerged after taking over yves saint laurent's menswear collection almost a decade ago, his was a vision that was so precise, it was such a new vision of masculinity that he instantly commanded the fashion world's attention by showing men an utterly modern way of dressing. after saint laurent was bought out by the gucci group, slimane worked his brilliance at dior homme and since that marriage, hedi has amassed an almost cult like following with the youth movement. which would make sense because he divines most of his inspiration from the culture of the young. asides from his design duties at dior he is also an accomplised photographer, dj, and a sort of p.r. god for indie rock bands whose careers he helped take off after hiring them to play the soundtrack for his shows. obviously the music reference shines through his collections and this season it appears that the new wave sound of 80's london captured his imagination. the 80s in london was a time of abundant creative energy with so many ideas coming out that it was easier to be over the top, to experiment, to create. slimanes experimentation this season is with volume and balance. balancing something severe and tight with someone looser (which appears to be a big trend for men's this season e.g. burberry and fendi), with a little bit of japanese cuts thrown in to drive the point even harder. the man who unleashed the ultra skinny aesthetic is perhaps growing tired of the look that he started that he wants to break free from it, which probably started with last years autumn collection with the extremely gracious pant leg and this season intstead of his trademark second skin pant, he did something more tailored, still quite slim, but the proportions felt new. the tapering, the drop crotch, and the thick hem seemed very fresh at the moment. this is slimane's last collection for the house of dior, he went out with bang, but he also left leaving a cavacious hole in menswear, and also he left us with a longing for him..

when he first started designing clothes in the 80s, john initially concentrated on his menswear, but pressures from his first sponsors forced him to quit that road and concentrate on womenswear instead. i'm far from mad at those sponsors because john produced some of my favorite women's garments of all time, but one has to wonder; "if he hadn't stopped exploring his male ideal, could he have possibly made a menswear collection better than this one?". that answer, we will never know. however you soon forget about that question because he sent down, surely one of the most memorable menswear collection ever. he brought to the usually sedate menswear show the palpable electricty of his women's collections. all those dramatic couture collections for dior during the early 2000s was reintepreted with ninjas, samurais, knights, african tribal warriors and a whole lot more from galliano's dreams caused such a great deal of excitement that a few months after this collection, the clothes have been featured on all the glossiest, avant garde and influential fashion bibles. its not an easy feat to bring theatrics to the male customers because men, unlike women, tend to be practical about clothes. to them its more about purpose and are not bothered by things such as volumes and proportions. john understands this so however many outrageous pieces are in his runway show, however wild and wacky the presentation, if the garments are broken down individually, there is a plethora of options for any men. be it the stock broker or a club kid blessed with a good inheritance, john is one of those few designers making clothes for men that doesn't just offer superbly cut clothes, he also offers them a little bit of freedom to say "fuck it" and enjoy dressing up.

youth has always been raf simon's main inspiration. mainly the angst of growing up. so there's always something moody and aloof about his signature collection that is blatantly absent from his work at jil sander. with this collection raf showed his trademark silhouette, slim and narrow, but also showed new proportions. particularly intriguing are the jackets he showed cropped right below the waist with extremely thin lapels and a notch collar. this isn't the first time he has played with proportion, he is probably one of the few menswear designer bold enough to continue playing with the dimensions of men's clothing, and for that he should be praised because he is suggesting a modern take on the traditional. he combines traditional fabrics like tweed but pairing it with leather into one garment. or he sends down a coat but adds almost archetectural touches in the collars or add inventive seams across the shoulders or the elbows. it's almost like the clothes are there to protect, to act as an armour against the dystopia of adulthood. which would probably explain the gloves that goes all the way past the elbows. but what a beautiful armour it is.

perhaps a continuous exploration of last seasons ideas, takahiro miyashita added something deeply personal to this collection - johnny cash. the man in black was everywhere in this collection. in all the black garments miyashita sent down, and in the aloof demeanor of the models. the country music influences were abstracted, there were no cowboy boots or cowboy shirts, but there were patchwork plaids worked into jackets, shirts, and even trousers. there was a sequence of all black outfits in the middle with slim silhouettes and sombre look about them. it seemed like another famous musician from cash's time was also making an appearance, bob dylan. but nevertheless, takahiro showed a collection that was beautiful, full of ideas, and an extremely commercial collection sometimes missing in his japanese contemporaries.

photo: men.style.com


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