SPRING MENSWEAR: UMIT BENAN

PARIS – perhaps one of my favorite names in fashion at the moment, umit benan is one fearless dude. from shattering the prototype of model castings to his unabashed approach to story telling through design- it’s all theatrical but not in a jarring manner. not in a camp sort of way that makes you feel uncomfortable. it’s smart. i love the relaxed, cool masculinity of his menswear collections & recognize a certain air of fluidity in the ways that silhouette is referenced this season. all creative articulation aside, the shit is just super fucking cool. the staging of the show was actually very creative; as male models were revealed after a curtain was pulled exposing a set of beds. these bed were intended to represent a bedroom & yes, these bedrooms were complete with couples of men & women sharing these bed. the simulation of bedrooms went further when each male model rose out of bed, only to be dressed by the female models that accompanied them. benan explained that the collection was intended to tell a story that he once lived, when a woman he loved affected his style. i too have found this story to be extremely personal, as the love of my life is the single greatest influence of how my personal style has evolved. which i value highly, as it has contributed to who i am & how i see the world- more importantly, how the world sees me.

the level of intimacy that is felt through the clothes is magnetic- it pulls you in powerfully. almost like love. it begins with intrigue & soon you’re caught up, looking for a way to figure out, ‘who am i?’ or ‘what was i doing before this’. what i love of umit is his ability to take your mind to another place, he almost makes you forget that it’s fashion & you become one with his mindset, with his translation of style. the ultimate intimacy is to allow someone to dress you- to allow that to happen is you allowing someone to affect the way you are seen. i feel that style as it relates to romance is a lane that is not explored enough & here, in this collection this season- that discussion is given a home. in palette, the collection is sensational- vibrant through use of orange & blue, bold like the beginning of a relationship that is flourishing with expectation. it’s new, it’s young, it’s fresh- still feels very familiar, but there is enough feel of new to draw you in to wait & see what happens next. these are more than just clothes here- this is a revealing look at the man that benan is- as a creative force in fashion, which is held in much higher regard than just a simple designer. while i like the clothes, the story & staging- combined, i love this collection in a greater capacity. [source]

SPRING MENSWEAR: JIL SANDER

PARIS – while many collections bordered boring this season, which is not completely unexpected given the patterns of menswear, jil sander made her return fittingly. there seems to be this overwhelming sense of 90’s style revival on the runways & in the streets- style has become reversed in many ways. while it is beyond me why anyone would want to revisit the 90’s for all of it’s faux-pas; i do find it intriguing, speaking specifically to the sense of nostalgia that i feel to anything 90’s. this season, jil sander was among those looking to further allow this revival to have a home in our fashion markets. as sanders return following the departure of raf simons, raf is now at the helm of dior. the collection was classically masculine but was artsy in that, blazers were sleeves & proportions were not as you would have expected them to be.

while some may have mistook sanders minimalism as boring, i found it beautifully executed. it was classical jil. sharp lines, incredible use of color & some inclusion of print. the grooming was just as innovative as the collection pieces- slightly off & not what one would have expected. with cardigans that seemed to be modeled after paintings by pier mondrian, the collection channeled a high art feel that could be seen on a man’s back. i am curious as to see how the label will change now that sander is back at her namesake label. all in all, raf allowed the sander signature to be preserved with a greater sense of modernization & it will be interesting to see the difference a female designer can have versus a man. the way that both men & women interpret clothing, as well as style is one that is vividly intriguing in the world of high fashion.

an aspect i found most interesting of the collection was the presence of texture. whether mindfully sleek or speckled print on some of the pieces- it was all very intricate. intentional if you must. that’s what i find so beautiful about minimalism- due to it’s stripped foundation, there leaves room for greater notice of how certain things feel. you question whether certain aspects were intentional & what intentions inspired such a visual to be created. jil is a true veteran in this game of fashion, welcome back. [source]

SPRING MENSWEAR: PRADA

MILAN – of all the labels in the land, prada is the ultimate trendsetter. while somethings may appear as confusing at first- consumers come around & so do the PR offices when it comes to miuccia. last season it was a satire of power that add comical relief to the the image of men in power. this season? vintage bowlers- or so it seemed to me at first glance. while we’ve seen retro prints, metallics & heavily embellished pieces from prada over the course of the last few seasons it was miuccia prada’s intention for everything to be reduced, simplified & basically muted. the lines that were fanciful last season became streamlined- it was complete cohesion from look to look. while some form of excitement was felt in the use of color, for the most part- it was flat. intentionally. there is a level of intellectuality that is produced in the prada collections, which has seemed to be the labels secret to successful trendsetting for many, many years. whether subdued or over the top with explosive concepts- prada keeps you on your toes. the markets look to the label to dictate their next move, intelligently. i love that prada totally draws you in- you wonder what they’ll show & when you least expect it- ah, something new. which is exactly what this collection felt like, even if minimalism is being produced by labels at lightening speed these days. how appropriate to follow this transformation of simple clothing for a high power label? how is this changing the game? is it? or is it just a simple mutation to conform to what direction is most popular? questions, yes. but answers?

striking forms of outlining of certain silhouettes were seen, i feel like defining these concepts as color blocking is far too, well, simple for the collection. through simplicity, the use of color was thoughtful. while other labels are pushing blinding metallics down the runway- prada been there & done that. it’s onto something new. i loved the rich palette notes of maroon & navy most- the use of beige, grey & black was almost expected. as most can tell you, i am often drawn to grey & naturally was in this collection. i expect to see these colors in a mens collection, but still- though my own expectation feel that prada always scores big points with me in that- it gets me thinking. i want to know, every season- what was she thinking. what message is she trying to convey? how has this shown a method of creative growth from last season to now? is this the future of fashion or a retelling of the past? so many questions & yet, it’s all objective. fashion is how you perceive it & prada makes you think. not just this season, but every season. [source]

SPRING MENSWEAR: BELSTAFF

LONDON – ranked as one of my top 10 best womenswear collections of last season, i always love to see how certain brands have shifted gears or are expanding their new design presence from season to season. it’s this form of spectating that allows us, as fashion conscious consumers, to become much more appreciative of the journey in which certain designers at certain labels have made. this connects with us on a greater level that far exceeds the realm of just ‘selling’ clothes. i love this idea of resurrected labels with history booked legacies. belstaff is one of those labels. in contrast, as mentioned in prior write ups about belstaff- burberry is also a label that has seemed to become fully resurrected & is currently at the top of their game as a british label. another aspect of high fashion i love is the span in which inspiration & influence penetrates into one label, furthermore infecting other labels in the process.

belstaff’s current creative director, martin cooper, was once 16 year burberry employee. cooper decided to allow belstaff to tap into it’s roots which date back to 1924. a set of smoked out grey, dusted greens & cemented whites all meshed beautifully throughout the collections palette- which was styled to perfection. i feel like many london based companies take great pride in creating beautiful outerwear & this collection’s strength was definitely the jackets. from the belted waists to the popped collars- the mix of leather & suede in the collection were only elevated by additional levels of chic; when two-toned lapels made their cameos throughout the collection. i loved the use of knitwear, as subtle accents that set off the pants & only added to the focus of the sandals as well as the fleet of bags that were featured on the runway. overall, the collection did not look to flashy trends like metallics, which will be a huge trend well into the spring of 2013, instead the collection was reserved. a well rounded revitalization of branding image starting with what matters, the clothes, was represented with this menswear season at belstaff. i love sense of direction that the label is looking to take on. while the clothes are solid, the last time i’ve discussed a belstaff ad campaign was in 2009, maryna linchuk was cast. it goes without saying, the clothes are strong & we’re looking for an even stronger advertising edge to excite consumer interest even more. cooper- you’re kill’n ’em. [source]

SPRING MENSWEAR: NEIL BARRETT

LONDON – just last week, i mentioned to a friend “im having a love affair with navy blue”. fast forward to men’s fashion week in paris & navy seems to have made a home for itself on the runways for the summer/spring 2013 season. as far as my own style evolution, i feel like i am at this stage which is reflected most accurately with the neil barrett spring collection, seen here. claiming he wanted some pieces to be “fucked up”, barrett hit the nail on the head stylistically this season. the collection was clean, masculine & fresh. from the varsity influenced bomber jackets to the shorts- there was a bit of a school boy feel to the collection. it was pedestrian in a sense, but a very chic pedestrian strolling along somewhere in paris. i have this affinity for cleanliness, being raised by a virgo. my attraction to sleek lines & structured silhouette was completely fulfilled throughout this collection.

i find it completely intriguing, the ways that menswear has evolved in the last five years. while americans are infamous for being much more casual than some of the other fashion capitals around the globe, i’ve experienced a greater attention to tailoring, silhouette & even use of color in the retail market when looking to purchase clothes. i remember back when i was in school, i struggled to find pants that fit- my waist was too tiny, legs did not fill out the pants, the length was never right. but as i grew, my style began to evolve. my clothes actually began to fit. i feel like every cool guy becomes a better man once becoming much more aware of style & how to present himself. i have to say, this season- with my site, the content i am selecting & the collections i am choosing to discuss; it’s all extremely personal to me. there is a greater sense of personalization in the clothes & styles that i respond to. much of my past content revolved around fashion as the business of style, but during show season- i like to focus more on the aspects of style being created by each designer. which allows me to then open the discussion of how these styles are being reflected or responded to by we, the people, as a culture- as a society.

in this collection, i love the range of fits that are represented. the form fitting, sharply tailored coats with the pants that leave enough slouch for sophistication but keep the seams close enough to the body to remind onlookers that, hey- dudes can dress too. from the subtlety of metallic pieces, to the clawed prints- the collection is careful to produce overly trendy pieces but fits right into the market & how it is carved to entice consumers by serving up what’s hot. all that said, trends are presented in this collection in such a way that it doesn’t feel as staged as other collections do. it’s soft enough to where it feels organic, natural & timeless. to me, there is nothing worse than a trend that has no staying power. overall, i love this collection from start to finish- from the coats, to the footwear & even with the grooming. neil barrett knocked it out of the park this season. a collection well executed. [source]