serving fashion and function is no easy task, and being in new york has reshaped my idea of function. in the concept of convertible, or multi-weather dressing, i have mostly sat in observation since my landing here in the fall. i’ve been humbled in this experience to know that, i don’t dress as bad as i think i do. typical of style, one must first understand coordination and ones own body. for my menswear collection picks of the season, a new eye was revealed. looking more toward function, with style becoming secondary; menswear adds a greater deal of ease, as it is standardized for us dudes. while greater creative concepts have began to enter into menswear, with the globalization of fashion and street style on the internet; this season’s picks are among my strongest point of views since the establishment of this space in 2008. as an adult and real consumer of fashion, one who understands style beyond price point- style is that of an enjoyment. from london to paris, off to milan and settling here in new york, these are my top menswear collections for the fall 2015 season. in alphabetical order, my most personal seasonal selections yet, based on personal taste.
COACH while the brand has long been the punchline for its mass produced, logo frenzied designs; coach is one of the strongest american brands to date. with a new creative director in place, and the refinement of design growing more visible, this collection is strong. shot as a look book as oppose to runway, the collection hosts a number of accessories, a staple for the brand, and an army of outerwear, appropriately for fall. while it may feel a bit too early to forecast any increases in sales; there is a noticeable effort in the menswear collections, which i appreciate. most big luxury houses focus widely on their women divisions with no particular interest in creating a balance of effort for their men’s collections. in america, in particular, the style conscious male is alive and well. call it a new generation reformation; but the internet with it’s pockets of influence have street wear and real person celebrity dripping from every pixel. there was a subtle use of animal print, which i also appreciated; and think necessary for an exemplary choice for men’s design. creative director, stuart ververs cites inspiration of his teenage years. in looking to appeal to a younger, more style conscious demographic, this approach is much needed for a brand like coach. for men, in particular, i am excited for what is to further develop for the brand as a whole. with the brands heritage being heavily based, if not entirely based, on leather goods, there is a gang of leather, and i would like to see the ways that is expanded upon and done so in much more innovative ways. a strong menswear collection for coach, who otherwise remains a bit more quiet on the men’s design scene. my attention was focused on the pants and footwear, particularly, and i loved the development in those areas.
DRIES VAN NOTEN often cited as psychological design, dries van noten is a label that serves experiences beyond simple style, or what one would consider clothing. stories through cut, scenarios through each seam; the collection was described as muted. but to me, spoke very loudly and ever clearly. i really love dries, in that, represented are some real style nods. it’s style in this everyday way, but it has this air of luxury that drips from it’s simplicity. it’s difficult to put into words, as i believe that luxury is a feel. it’s an energy. it’s about things feeling expensive, feeling luxe- above average and exclusive. rather inarticulately but no less poignant, it makes the designs special. there is a very unique and intelligent way that dries does print. the botanical prints reminded me of a new, fresh interpretation of camouflage. not a fan of print, the use of it in his collections is a regularity that is almost expected. but the expectation of such use is super subtle. that’s how genius it is. there’s heavy textures, and the clothes feel moody. it’s effortless, it’s masculine while incorporating these feminine elements. layered to perfection for the fall, the collection in motion is among the most inspiring of the season. when it comes to fashion, i often get my own feel for what i see; i look at the sourced inspiration, but all in all- it’s about what looks great, from what feels great. and clothes, as our armor should make us feel protected. protected in ways that represent polish, and who we are, internally. that’s what i love about dries; the runway show really transported you. look after look, you wondered; who is this guy? this guy that lives in these collections, what is his story. among my most favorite of the season, and ideally who i’d like to become, in representing a new dimension of self, through maturation of style. beyond what i can tell you, beyond what can be captured in images. this is the collection you need to see, for it’s elegance, effortlessness and ease. style is easy, and should be. it’s thoughtful.
DSQUARED² among the fashion labels that serve casual style, in many cases, i’ve bitched that the collections were too one dimensional. but in looking at the ways that i relate to designer collections, in a real way, as an actual consumer- there is an undeniable energy to the clothes. what did bother me about the casting for the show was the inclusion of womenswear pieces. i think it’s already tough enough as it is for men to find their own space in high fashion, and the women only distracted with dominance during the runway show. there was also a visible lack of diversity in the collection, which is surprising because dean and dan canten have showed collections with a full cast of males of color. while the use of denim, fur and western or american design concepts was great. the casting, i found, to be distracting. there should be a streamlined process of diversity, in every show. instead of parading models of color around as a fad, or passing trend. the color of our skin is not in for a season, it’s permanent. much like the use of denim in a DSQUARED² collection. malgosia bela opened the show, which gave the collection a distracted feel from menswear. mary j. blige also performed at the shows close. a fan of blige myself, this still felt out of place, or just extra. expectations fulfilled by what was presented, in design; the usual formula was well represented. lack of diversity, and unnecessary involvement of female models. but, you know- i liked a lot of the looks, and came away with ideas for use of fur, and layering concepts.
HAIDER ACKERMANN much of standardization in menswear is tied to tailoring standards, creases in certain spots and a age-old expectation of formality. a proper windsor for your tie, certain do’s and don’ts for matching of patterns, depending, and certain textiles depending on the season. but in this day in age, much of personal style can be seen in style defiance. going against the rules, while displaying an understanding while directly looking to break those rules. in the vein of dries van noten, while being mindful of men’s formal standards exists haider ackermann. pronounced, high-derr ack-ur-men; the designer elevates sensuality of formal wear in the world of high fashion. his use of satins and calculated moments of ‘lax appeal are unrivaled in the world of high fashion. leather and velvet were among the highlights of this collection, and while i’m guessing that the collection is much better in person, the dark images give it that haider feel. it’s romantic, and rebellious, and almost seasonally defiant as well. there are loose ascots, silk scarves and beautiful use of knitwear. ackermann has this ability to create strong looks that almost go beyond the thought of masculine and feminine. masculinity being that of strength, and femininity being that of softness, in most cases described in a fashion dialogue; the collection remains true to the ackermann aesthetic and was presented off runway. the womenswear collection was baited as well, as one womenswear look managed to surface in the set. overall, a usually and expectedly strong showing. but nothing else to be expected from haider. as great as he is, there shows lack of mindfulness in model casting, as it related to diversity; a major blow to any designer, truly looking to defend their ability to translate a vision, in my opinion.
LOUIS VUITTON in asia, the number one brand for visibility is louis vuitton. the largest percentage of that visibility is seen in the brands own accessories and leather goods market. for the world of menswear, we’ve seen many developments in the last five years. amongst those developments has been greater use of creative concepts, and feminization of styling approach. using feminization as form of flexibility, and lending to it an air of greater freedom to evoke style; the louis vuitton collections are known for their strength in accessories. in fact, the appointment of nicholas ghesquiere, following his departure from the house of balenciaga was brought to life with the hopes that a greater set of balance would be achieved, in refining the houses fashion design credibility with actual clothes. with areas of china and india showing an accelerated interest in luxury goods, spiking something like 86 percent between 2008 and 2013. with a profit margin of 40%, vuitton defends their use of strength in accessories, but more interestingly for men this season. gucci and vuitton are among the leaders for logo-frenzy design, and while the name of the style game these days is minimalism, you still have those new-money-moments of bougie on every marble flooring section at the luxury department stores. the cross body bags adorned in the classic monogram were a standout, and visibly so, creative director kim jones layered models with these bags- you couldn’t help but notice them. not a fan of print, and in this collection, i was reminded of my dislike. but who gives a fuck, when you have all these accessories options for men at vuitton. the monogram design and warm browns are completely timeless, and was well paired and styled with the strong collection looks. whats unusually impressive about the vuitton menswear division is it’s strong sets of looks. kim jones is definitely a G in this game, and the menswear collections he puts out are evidence of that. it’s the right move with the accessories, especially since the pricing on vuitton bags went up a reported 12%. at least gas prices are down.
PUBLIC SCHOOL public school has created a niche market in high end, luxury – adding to the already rapidly developing world of high streetwear. but this season; it seems that their usually powerful punch was off. while there were a few strong, dark looks- which are a part of the brand’s own normal flavoring, the inclusion of more mass, commercially acceptable pieces, from what it seems, broke continuity in a way that was confusing. unnecessarily so, the collection included shots of pale pinks and pastels; which was like drinking unsweetened iced team when you were expecting sweetened. staying true to the theme of lacking taste, I’m wondering if the downtown feel is all that the label has to their credit. the collection did present a range of layering ideas, and there seemed to be a focus on lengthening of garments, which i really loved and understood being in the midst of my first winter here on the east coast. i feel as though the use of color, could have been influenced by anna wintour. she is known for her distaste for all black, and as the winners of the CFDA fashion fund award, i could easily see her lending such feedback at a pre-fashion show review of the collection. that said, with regard to wintour; public school needs to retain that depth in palette. there is this washed out, inauthentic feel about the design duo doing anything else. while not as strong as past seasons they’ve had, still much stronger than other labels. i found it odd that there were missed steps in their fall collections, because they’ve exemplified strength in their outerwear designs. i loved the use of red, and of course- I’m all for the grey and navy.
RAG & BONE another defender of downtown style, as a true reflection of american style, as it relates to new york city. rag & bone held the best menswear presentation in new york this season. each look was posted on headless, wooden mannequins, which gave the presentational aspects much more edge than what was to be normally expected. the collection look book images feature dancer lil buck and ballet icon, mikhail baryshnikov. the creative duo behind the label, marcus wainwright and david neville explained that their choices always reflect range in opposition. while lil buck is more from the era and grade of street dancing, baryshnikov is of classical training. both are fitting representers of their respective sectors of dance, and for the label- this season; they represent opposites. the duo of rag & bone are a combined force themselves, being a british-american duo. while i loved the collection and the presentation presented here in new york, the look book images for me fell flat. that is, until i seen the study of movement short film that was shot for the collection. featuring again, both dancers buck and baryshnikov; the short could not have been more well balanced and the collection, though secondary to the movements reminds you that the persona of each man featured is about the full scope. with a twist of each ankle or a jolt of a torso, you find yourself looking at the wool coats, or remixed dress pants. there is a marriage of athleticism and luxury that menswear is doing expertly well. in an interesting twist, this collection felt more like public school to me, than public school. strong collection, but feels as though concepts and aesthetics are being traded. either that or shaded. bloop.
VALENTINO the collections i select each season often drift throughout the spectrum, i’ve developed my favorites but from season to season you find yourself dissapointed, you find yourself surprised other seasons. it’s fashion, it’s ever changing. but with the house of valentino, their menswear collections are always among my favorite picks and are often a source of aspiration though inspiration. from the tailoring, to the concept, it’s all very well done. this season there was color blocked patchwork that made it’s way into the usually streamlined use of color. there was a tribal and bird-likeness in the patterns, and placement of pockets and zippers in a fresh way. interesting range of palette used throughout and while the same silhouettes were shown, they were given a facelift for the new season. appropriately, there was a focus on accessories; a division within the brand that has been amped since the retirement of valentino himself. the valentino brand brings this high end appeal to otherwise urban elements. they are to credit for the resurgence of camo- which was included in these collections again, and pairing of sneakers with formal wear, which was also continued here. this season, they expand upon that focus with a range of leather backpacks. leather coats were also seen in the collection, and while i didn’t enjoy the use of baby blue, i appreciate the renewed approach as oppose to just continuity of what has worked before. there were butterfly, constellation and hybrid use of print, blending birds/camo. i loved the use of navy, as i do for any fall collection. near the close of the collection brought a use of valentino red- a staple for the label since it’s creation in rome in 1959. the final looks brought about a new, fresh take on green print, which i loved- surprisingly, as i am not often impressed or interested in the use of print. the collection overall, was very strong and presented a bold approach to men’s style that challenges personality and choice for all the male consumers out there. a really great evolution from last season to now, mindful of what works while always leaning to new concepts.
VERSACE the house of versace is to credit for many style movements that have lasted since the 90’s. some of those elements were presented in the collection, like the classic gold versace hardware, and just the sleek appeal, which is very handsome. since donatella took over following gainnni’s passing in 1996, the house was refined in a sophisticated way. there was less shock value, and more polish. you can feel the energy of a woman, as oppose to a man, but the reason that versace is so successful and has been, is that there is a common thread of taste. it’s handsome, it’s classic and it’s italian. whether it’s sleek hair, or sleek tailoring, there’s a versace energy. this collection encapsulated that in a powerful way. i didn’t enjoy the wide legged looks, and am very partial to where menswear has evolved, with tailoring. i love the strict use of palette. it was black, navy and brown the entire way through. which makes for beautiful variation in styling, when the clothes are pulled for the editorial circuit. there wasn’t much feedback to give to this collection because the normal, standard versace expectation was fulfilled. the palette in the collection wasn’t the only one my focus shifted to, there was a noticeable absence of men of color for the collection, which is very dissapointing. while there have been escalated efforts last season, with the womenswear side of things, it’s important for those bouts of diversity to be equally represented. the versace man is widely focused upon the hip-hop community, and the house of versace should recognize that and mirror or acknowledge such influence on the runway. after all, it’s those in rap that have allowed for the name of versace to live and thrive. from silk shirts to gold jewelry- it’s all versace, but it’s all rap culture. can’t have one without the other, if you ask me.
VIVIENNE WESTWOOD leave it to dame vivienne westwood to fuck with the psyche of fashion in a smart, stylish and chicly thrased way. that’s exactly what she did here. and it was expertly done. i will say, this collection was a bit more polished than others she had. she went easy on them this season; but the focus and trend that the industry is pushing is print. there were beautiful use of floral and black prints, done- again, so beautifully. the contrast of the florals was done in a clip art way that isolated them on the blazer and jackets in the collection near the close. i loved the styling, and again, as i always say with westwood- you have to look at the collection in pieces, not as full looks in order to digest the message. interesting use of the currency print, though I’m not a big fan of matching sets, i do understand that there is a market for them; and if you’re going to do a full print look, what say ‘i got money’ more than a currency print from head to toe? exactly. represnting london, I’m always amazed when looking at a vivienne westwood collection; her eye remains forever youthful and always fun. seriously fashionable in the real fashion circles- there is a way to fuck it up, and to do that in a way that makes people proud to be a fan, this is honest work, and it’s the intention of great design, to re-evalutate and re-landscape the ways that people see everyday function, and how they represented themselves by what they choose to wear. it’s all about choices, and viv knows that best.
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