Sunday, January 13, 2008

milan - men's fall/winter 2008 - day one


the minimalist movement of the nineties is something that in many ways seems inconsistent with today's attention deficit disorder. in a time when trends come and go as fast as an olympic runner on steroids, its suprising to see a designer as young as raf simons showing clothes that will never date. opening the show with classic wool suits with his trademark narrow silhouette, the only thing that seemed "new" was the creeper inspired shoes. but then again that is the magic of the young belgian designer. show something that will always be classic and injecting it with something modern to make it relevant for now. although the footwear was a clear indication of the mood of this collection, i feel that simons' is finally getting comfortable in the house that jil built. continuing the experimental road he travelled with last spring's women's collection, raf stepped ouf of his boundaries and experimented with prints. but not just any prints, these were prints that recalled the ideas of jackson pollock but done in a more muted less chaotic kind of way. the colours were monochromatic and stayed true to the minimalist ideology, but at the same time provided it with a sense of randomness and unorganized movement that was a direct opposition to the rationality and cleanliness of minimalism. since taking over the heavy burden of designing for a label that was so symbolic to a movement, simons' has managed to find the balance of being succinct to an idea and knowing enough about it that he is able to manipulate it into his own ideologies, thus continuing the idea of modernism and minimalism at the same time.


christopher bailey has throughout his career as creative director at the house of burberry, earned him the title as the consumate alchemist of ideas. season after season, bailey has always managed to re-knew the burberry iconography into something present and persistant. although he might fail every now and again as the case for last women's tom ford-esque collection, or receive unanimous applause, one thing is certain, a designer deeply commited to the history of the brand he designs for will in the end be a successfull one. unlike the past when the designer referenced a specific period or movement, this time around saw the designer doing something that was not obvious or palpable. the only clear thing about this collection was it's sense of english eccentricity apparent in the hand painted feathers that decorated the sweaters that closed the show. although there were some silhouettes that echoed a bygone era (really, only bailey can get me to wear flared pants again), this collection represented what young london is right now, a mashup of ideas that picks and chooses archetypes of movements and molds them into something that is so of the moment that years from now it will always represent what 2008 was.


the versace label has always been synonynous with obvious opulent luxury involving medusa heads and gold leaf appliques that is more about in your face than the sublime. however, with the ex cloak designer alexander plokhov on board as a creative consulant, the house is now managing to combine milanese craftmanship, and an avant garde point of view with commercial viability that is quickly making the brand a forerunner in the highly competitive arena of high end men's wear. drawing inspiration from artist tamara de lempicka, versace manipulated the nietzche-ian superman ideology via cubist form into a robust exploration of volume, balance and strictness that saw jackets cut with such austerity and control that it immediately gave shape and form to the otherwise waif-like form of the models. since the death of gianni versace ten years ago, and with donatella's infamous battle with drug abuse, the dna of the house has totally been changed to a quiet strenght as opose to an almost vulgar display of conceit the brand has been so closely linked to. the strictness of the tailoring provided a support to the new found strenght of the house that was enough to carry all the tribulations it has enocountered over the past years. and with this new found strenght, the versace man has not only displayed a new found confidence, he is also providing to be an inspiration to the modern man's wardrobe.


ennio capasa might be italian by birth, but deep down inside he's got a british soul. as evident in his most recent collection, the designer drew on the many style movements of english youth as his source of inspiration. although there were the obvious mod, punk, or teddy boy touches, the era that this collection really reminded me of was the time in between punk and new wave, the time when ian curtis of joy division was still alive. it had that brooding sense of loucheness and a haphazard way of being put together using taradtional british sartorial style but done in a totally different way. the silhouette still remained close to the body, but it was more relaxed and fluid compared to the second skin clothes of the past. jackets were cut shorter and pants tappered down the ankle and ended with a cuff to expose shoes inspired by creepers and doc martens. this collection shows that an inspired ennio capasa, is one brilliant designer.


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