The spring/summer 2017 men’s fashion weeks have just ended in Europe, amidst the uncertainty of #Brexit, and fears surrounding growing terror activity in Belgium and France. Nonetheless, models male and female strutted down the glamorous runways of London, Paris, Milan, and Florence – even though it’s become less fashionable to do so this season. Despite the immigration debate, which has come to a fever pitch thanks to #Brexit, the shows this season have been more diverse than ever. Here’s the skinny on the shows – ironic, since baggy styles continue to dominate – so you can answer with confidence when someone asks you…
When did all this happen?
This cycle of fashion week SS17 for men started on June 10 in London, two weeks before the #Brexit vote. The attention then moved to Florence for the 90th Pitti Immagine Uomo, which spawned this lovely documentary. Milan was next, beginning on Saturday June 18, and then Paris immediately after on June 22. New York: Men’s will begin next month, on the 11th.
Did you go to one of the shows?
Well, the spectacle of the runway may be losing its lustre. More so than ever, designers are choosing showroom presentations over the catwalk this season – Alexander McQueen, Antonio Marras, Berluti, Ermanno Scervino, Nº21’s Alessandro dell’Acqua, and YMC. That’s not to say that the runway show is dead. In some ways, it’s only gotten more splendiferous. Versace’s enormous screens dwarfed the futuristic models, like Independence Day Italian style. Thom Browne brought sheer camping tents and a bonfire on the stage, while his Moncler Gamme Bleu scouts milled about a verdant garden with Smokey the Bear. Fendi’s show seemed like a callback to Versace’s summer show a few seasons ago, with retro-clad models parading around a linear reflecting pool à la Taj Mahal or Alhambra – albeit much pared down.
Also, a couple of high-profile designers chose to subsume their menswear offerings under their womenswear shows. Jeremy Scott of Moschino combined the brand’s Resort Womenswear season with his Men’s SS17, and held his show in Los Angeles, following Hedi Slimane’s lead earlier this year. No rumors of Jeremy Scott leaving Moschino, however, the way there were surrounding Hedi leaving YSL (which officially came true in April; Anthony Vaccarello took over). We also felt the absence of Burberry, who decided to go ‘seasonless’ and combine their men’s and women’s shows for September. Tom Ford and VETEMENTS have also eschewed the traditional fashion week cycle, choosing to release their products for display and for sale simultaneously during the season… which seems logical nowadays (who wants to wait a whole six months?). Alexander McQueen chose to pass on the catwalk too, opting instead for a super luxe, almost painterly photo shoot with Julia Hetta. His gothic wraiths last season have swapped out their black suits for intricate Indian paisley, and their silver piercings for brass earrings fashioned in traditional sunburst styles.
All that being said, Balenciaga held its first-ever, highly-acclaimed, exclusively menswear show under a geodesic glass dome and fortuitous Parisian sunshine, with Georgian-born Demna Gvasalia, who also designs for VETEMENTS, at the helm. Lucky him.
So, what’s this season’s color?
How bold are you? Punk made a big splash on the runway this season, throwing off the usual expectations of summery colors. Instead, deep, cool shades, with a flash of crimson or orange, seem to be the predominant palette. Ever the purveyor of all things rock, Ann Demeulemeester sent out an army of navy blue models in fully laced-up boots, frayed seams, and flyaway belts and tabs for a touch of the brand’s undying romanticism. Kris van Assche wasn’t much different in his latest collection for Dior Homme, favoring black and white, with red coursing through like blood to an otherwise deathly chic, in the form of exposed stitching and sometimes creepily numerous Twizzlers sticking through sleeveless jackets and skinny pants. Kim Jones’ interpretation of punk for Louis Vuitton was somewhat tempered by influences from the African savannah, the result being a sandy, sporty-via-biker-jackets vibe that had a winning exotic coolness to it.
The ‘it’ color? Red. It’s hard to miss, reserved as a special touch for many collections that otherwise seemed too cool for the summer. There’s Balenciaga’s intricately brocaded boxy double-breasted crimson suit, Facetasm’s wondrous mix of lumberjack plaid with digital florals painted in bluish red, Daks’ merlot-dipped boho three-piece suits (herein referring to shawl-lapel jacket, ankle-length pants, and elongated turtlenecks). Oh and not to forget Comme des Garçons’ transparent raincoat, with its candied apple-red plastic crochet.
Red? I don’t really like red.
Who cares if you like red? Pick whatever color you like: here are the brands that embraced all the colors of the rainbow, and there’s some for everybody. Etro, with its folksy silky fabrics dyed with batik stripes; Moschino, which got even more colorful than last season (how is that possible??) with neon bubblegum flowers and Mexican rhinestone pavé; Missoni, who rendered Guatemala’s vivid knits from head to toe in checks and triangles and birds, a feat even a costurera might find impressive; Paul Smith, whose theme this season is optimism, expressed in Skittles-colored suits of plaid, windowpane checks, and color-blocking genius; Sibling’s skimpily dressed muscle models flaunted their abs and the comic “baam!” bubbles of fire-engine red, turquoise, and lime green on an array of sportswear; Issey Miyake painted his boiler-suits Jackson Pollock-style, except super-saturated.
Facetasm, a Japanese brand we covered last year in Japan’s Fashion Week, made its debut on the Parisian runway… meaning there’s more diversity in Europe’s coveted show schedules! Designer Hiromichi Ochiai came very close to winning the LVMH Prize this year, being the first finalist from Japan to have been in the running. His style of wacky, baggy silhouettes was a hit in Paris this year. Other Asians who made waves this season include Rynshu, whose punk-glam ensembles of flowery gossamer hoodies, oversized polka dots in black and white, and spray-on latex-like leather chaps make designer Masatomo Yamaji a trendsetter this season. Wan Hung, a Hainanese designer who started at London Collections: Men in 2015, also had a stellar collection, though not on the runway. Borrowing his palette from sunny seashores (must be that constant London rains?), his beautifully cut suits and sportswear are instant mood lifters, graphically washed over by sunshine, sand, and white caps.
While some commentators have called this season a tribute to “travel”, we’d rather call it “exoticism”. And not in a tokenist way – designers seem to have found ways to truly incorporate East Asian and African elements in their work without seeming perfunctory. Kim Jones’ fifth year at Louis Vuitton proved to be a triumphant one, his winning collection flaunting motifs he collected from South Africa – beasts like giraffes and nyalas, and colorful punk silhouettes from Botswanan biker gangs. It was an energetic and timely corollary to the burgeoning economies and fashion scenes of Africa. Alexander McQueen combined the tailored silhouettes of British mod from the sixties with the rich hues and ornate patterns of India, creating a romantic texture not dissimilar to a vintage Persian rug. Historically significant, and sartorially finessed, it was a beautiful marriage of East and West. In the same way, Issey Miyake’s Yusuke Takahashi borrowed the adventurous romance of British Indian style – diaphanous linen, Gandhi-esque dhoti shawl tops, collarless button-down man blouses – and fused it with a Japanese utilitarianism, contrasting airy elongated shirts and close-cropped apron tops, rolling shoulders and scrunched cuffs, tight waists and flowing pant legs.
What’s the hottest name?
Gucci’s Alessandro Michele. In a matter of a few seasons he has given Gucci new life, in a whimsical, vintage Italian wallpaper, bangles-and-baubles kind of way. A thing of wild creativity, the Gucci runway wows you look after look with the multitude of ideas – all of which seem to flow from a single, fabulous source. It’s become a new Gucci look, inspired by Italy: the dramatic kaleidoscope of retro Italian fashion, its operatic larger-than-life spirit, and the history of Gucci being a central benefactor to Italy’s worldwide reputation as fashion’s birthplace. However, it’s the small things like mismatched laces, a plethora of tchotchke jewelry, and loafers over cotton socks over lace stockings that make up this sumptuous scrapbook of a collection, and that give it its creative energy.