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The menswear season has come and gone, and a good one it was. Another show I really liked, apart from Louis Vuitton and Rick Owens, was Lanvin. I liked how they’d shifted focus with a more aggressive slant on the Elbaz/Ossedrijver take on deconstruciton. You can only take pretty so far, especially when rivals are catching up. I loved the Aryan/ albino meets Mad Max spirit that was omnipresent in the show. A menacing gang of left bank warriors. The use of the belts on utility albeit luxe rucksacks to suggest a cummerbund was clever. As was the South Pacific take on an Aran sweater by way of fringing.There were also some new ways with colour, such as bleached out mustard with an odd, faded sienna. Quite 70s. Take apart the styling and all the Lanvin signatures are clear and present. Great coats, suits and shirts.

Brooding Aggression: Lanvin Menswear Autumn-Winter 2010, Paris

Two’s company, three’s a crowd. It’s getting pretty crowded in here…

Jil Sander []

Is this just a slight distraction from the matter at hand (the matter being real clothes for real men)? A ruse to be taken at face value, photographed a few times in I.D. magazine and then buried in that casket labelled “Implausible Ideas in Menswear”? Or is there more to this idée fixe than meets the eye?

This season has produced some stellar clothes so I wonder why so many designers couldn’t leave it just at that. I guess every show needs a showpiece but usually things like that are left to womenswear. Earlier I wrote a post about the emasculation of men in relation to this sudden onslaught of “man skirts’ [Skirms] but on reflection I’m starting to wonder if that has anything to do with it at all. Maybe we need to look eastwards at the cloaks of Tibetan monks, the severe tunics of Maoist China or, closer to home, the Vatican City and priestlike cassocks. I could even go further to suggest, controversially, the Taliban and Middle Eastern dress. Is this the brave new frontier, Le Shocking? We’ve been bombarded with so many images of the war and Bin laden that the most “edgy” thing a designer could do is propose a silhouette that hints at this. All those billowing blouses and dropped crothches seen at YSL and Givenchy.

Or maybe I’m reaching here. This really is just a flight of fantasy that will soon enough flit back into the design studio. Let’s see how many of these purveyors of the skirm practice what they preach. The proof of the pudding’s in the eating after all. Or should that be the proof of the skirt is in the wearing?

War or Peace: Draughty times ahead for the man about town

Marcel Bruer: Wood-slat chair, 2nd version, 1923. Stained maple + horsehair weave

Looking at the menswear shows from Milan and Paris there’s a graphic, linear quality to the clothes, tempered with a softer handle to the fabrics. There is also a latent feeling of “craft werk” about the way noble tweeds, marls, cahmere drape, thick mohairs and wools have been married with the unnatural, technical aspects of weather proof nylons and fly away techno fabrics. Proletariat. Urbane. Graphic. These qualities recall the aesthetic of the Bauhaus movement – the principles of craft, beauty and workmanship. Top: Jil Sander. Bottom: Louis Vuitton, Neil Barrett []

The oblong collages at Jil Sander were distinctly modernist, playing on the idea of discreet decoration and also recalling the abstract forms of Miro and Barbara Hepworth. Artsy. Another key motif was the dissecting of the top half of the torso with a lateral seam that ran from shoulder over chest, allowing for interesting juxtapositions of texture and colour – plaid with a flat wool at Louis Vuitton. Neil Barrett went a step further with a verging-on-tricksy, vertically challenging approach. One half back, the other dark grey. A pared down version of Oskar Schlemer’s costumes for the theatre at the Dessau Bahaus, perhaps?

Yves Saint Laurent []

Stefano Pilatti’s efforts for Yves Saint Laurent have been widely criticised. Understandably so, perhaps, but I get the feeling that he was trying to take menswear somewhere new and somehow things got lost in translation. I bet come next season the ideas would have settled into something stronger and desirable. The Eastern promise of the Yves Saint Laurent collection [see also Kris Van Assche for Dior, Ricardo Tischi for Givenchy] seemed to have been inspired by the all-in-ones favoured by Johannes Itten.

All in all, this was a generally strong, thought-provoking season with a plethora of new silhouettes and ideas for next fall.

Bauhaus archiv, Magdalena Droste, Taschen 1998

Triple delicious.

Marc Jacobs and Paul Helbers have raised the bar so bloody high. This is total, absolute luxury. The shows so far haven’t delivered such a precise, no nonsense line up of perfect, manly clothes. If you’ve gots the cash this is really where you should blow it. Inspired by the Wiener Werkstätte movement, formed in Vienna at the turn of the 20th century, the clothes have been drafted with the precision of an architect. However, there’s a certain nonchalance about the way they have been put together. Natural. The muted colour palette is a dream: coal, smoke, putty, camel, brown. The tactile is played off against the techno – calf skins, mohairs, velvets versus quilted nylons and hi-tech suitings. Great boots too. Did I say delicious?

Waltzing Viennese, I really think so: Josef Hoffman// Palais Societ, Brussells

catwalk images:

Neil Barrett, Neil Barrett, Burberry

The biggest impression I’m getting from Milan is coats. Obvious, perhaps, seeing that its the winter collections and all, but there seems to be some extra love being given in the coat department. Great volumes, nifty details, luxe textures, good buttons, expensif colourways. Just delicious_

Pringle, Jil Sander par Raf Simons, Alexander McQueen

Last but not least: Puffa ULTIMO, jil sander