The past Fashion Weeks have been especially busy for us, since the ever spinning wheel of fashion kept us tumbling across Europe, on our ongoing quest to supply you guys with the latest news, rumours and facts on everything (men’s) fashion related. Considering the sheer amount of outstanding collections we have encountered so far, it took us quite a while to properly process and accordingly rework it for us to feature on the website. However, in a more or less democratic way we managed to narrow it down to quite a fine selection.
Although we are more than fed up with snowstorms, temperatures below freezing point, grey skies and now just can’t wait for spring to finally arrive, we were given at least 10 very convincing reasons to skip the warm season entirely. Check them out after the jump.
Maybe a bit overshadowed by the official start of his tenure as creative director and Nicolas Ghesquiere’s successor for fashion house Balenciaga, Alexander Wang delivered a collection, which on first sight one would most likely dub cyber-goth-tech-ninja. However, since nobody has actually ever seen a ninja, besides on TV or video games – which is far from what I would call a reliable source – and regarding the fact that these fellas are sneaky virtually invisible bastards that chop off your head and make it look like a freakin heart attack, we ought to stay away from such crude labeling. On second sight, however, Wang presents quite an accessible, versatile and above all wearable collection, that fuses sportswear elements, such as kangaroo pockets and raglan sleeves with functional and sleek lines for a rather streamlined yet menacing dark space-age kinda look. The rather monochrome colour palette, that includes black and hues of grey, besides a small number of more colourful, i.e. greyish blue staples, works surprisingly well thanks to a clever selection of fabrics and textures, that happens to break up the collection’s apparent monolithicness.
Dior’s Kris Van Assche let loose his Army of super handsome male model clones upon the audience. Sharply dressed, sporting even sharper parted hairdos, they were marching down a pristine white runway that only added to the apparent air of eerie perfection that filled the halls. The first thought that struck my mind, that must have struck everyone’s mind, who is halfway into science fiction… or Jude Law: Gattaca. The 1997 science fiction film stars afore-mentioned hunk alongside Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman in a not too distant dystopian future, in which your DNA determines your social status. The UBER-Mensch, besides holding that enviable DNA, of course needs an adequate close to perfect UBER-wardrobe, preferably supplied by a certain French fashion house and its henchman… I mean creative director Kris Van Assche. Emphasizing the underlying futuristic theme Van Assche leaned on technical fabrics that pretty much made that razor sharp tailoring of his stand out even more. Van Assche’s sartorial suggestions for upcoming Fall are insistently free of any nonsense staples – yes even most of the buttons are replaced by zippers. And they exhibit in their stripped down essentialism and precision the brittle feel of labcoats – quite smart looking labcoats though.
Quite frankly it took me a while until I realized what was going on at Kenzo. But it didn’t escape my attention, not when people around me started walking around clad in Kenzo logos. The brand hasn’t seen much coverage in recent years, especially since founder Kenzo Takada’s retirement from operative business, the brand went gradually downhill, until it was virtually dead and buried. Until last year, when all of a sudden it was all Kenzo here, Kenzo there, Kenzo freakin’ everywhere, and since no one really seemed to have enough cash to afford the good stuff, everybody was wearing either the logo caps or these tacky logo sweaters. What I failed to realize however is that this tongue in cheek attitude is actually backed by a solid body of design work.
As the brains behind Kenzo’s recent sensational comeback, Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon and Carol Lim spend a decent time on the plane commuting, it seems only natural they devoted the latest Fall/Winter collection to the sky’s infinite vastness. Dubbed “The Jungle of the Sky“ – an apparent nod to Kenzo Takada’s Jungle Jap boutique – the collection’s concept finds expression in a colour palette ranging from sky blue to shades of deep red. Bulky rounded shoulders and A-line coats paired with slim pants emphasize a bold hero-esque yet laid back silhouette. Adorned with a distinct quasi-camouflage cloud print provided it with a certain uplifting easiness. I can’t wait to see more of that.
Ricardo Tisci has quite a carrier to look back on. He turned a storied yet quite dusty French couture house into a global barometer for cool, managed to become hip hop royalty’s court tailor, and subsequently lured kids into spending their pocket money on pricey t-shirts, that feature tacky prints of Rottweilers, sharks, and the holy mother of God. Whereas some people seem to be very much inspired by Tisci’s unique aesthetic, and in the wake started actual street wear brands that share his sense for religous drama, fondness for leather and feature a similar price range, the master himself has meanwhile returned to his other obsession: America, land of the free, home of the brave. Where a regular Italian guy (like himself) can still make it big. Taking the afore-mentioned into account, he pretty much succeeded with that. Taking on where he left off with his “American Dream“ collection in 2011, he now ventured to America’s (even) darker side, particularly inspired by occultism and one of his longtime favourite artists, Robert Maplethorpe. The signature printed tees were again included, however in a more chic and premium cashmere, taffeta or – yeah – leather offerings. Notably Tisci’s use of the tanned animal hide was pushed to new sartorial heights, with an array of staples that emit a sleek elegance yet are simply downright sinister – which is meant as a compliment. By the way, urban legend has it that, when you say. Givenchy three times in front of a mirror, Kanye West will appear launching in a rant about how Ricardo Tisci deserves to be awarded best men’s wear designer. But since that already happened… Way to go Ri car do.
Germany is usually looked upon in quiet admiration and perhaps a bit of envy too, regarding the great number of poets and thinkers, the unchallenged engineering, a rather steady economy and the form follows function design ethics it spawned. However, this nation which is usually associated with secondary virtues such as punctuality, cleanliness and efficiency, has a significant weak spot. As the days grow shorter and the light grows dimmer the average German begins a malign transformation of his already not very fashionable appearance. His faintly existing sartorial dispositions are entirely wiped out by his default inscribed fondness for fuctional clothing, for which he even came up with an individual term: “Funktionskleidung“. These shapeless piles of GORE-TEX, which dominate the grey and dreary winters are both the cure and the cause of Germany’s fashion non-sense. This becomes painfully evident when embarking on a trip to Paris. The French capital knows absolutely no badly dressed people. Even the average Parisian homeless guy will effortlessly outdress you. Deal with it.
German-born but Paris-based designer Tillmann Lauterbach channelled the German rather ambivalent obessesion with functionality into a Fall/Winter 2013 collection. Transcending the confines of traditional functional clothing, Lauterbach fuses it with a scaled back yet highly fashionable eastern aesthetic. Although it might be questionable if Lauterbach can be considered a German designer, since he spends most of his time either working on his own label in Paris or as creative director of Chinese mega brand JNBY, he made a huge contribution to the rescue of functional fashion’s reputation.
“I wear what I create“ stated Lanvin creative director in a recent interview for High Snobiety magazine.
Indeed a rather egocentric view of fashion, that is still rather wide-spread in a business and among its protagonists, who very much like to see their work located near the realms of Art. Art as well as Fashion are fueled by the same urge for self-expression and share a similar inevitable proximity to and affinity for stardom and celebrity culture. That this attitude does not necessarily lead to wearable let alone tasteful creations may also be a known fact. Ossendrijver’s apparent subjectivity however resonates perfectly with the resulting Fall/Winter 2013 collection recently shown at Paris Fashion Week. They featured a range of silhouettes, of which the slightly baggier proved to be the visually and functionally most rewarding. Roomy parkas, boxy double breasted coats, drop shoulders and sneakers contributed to a both smart and sporty look that emits a modern 21st century masculinity. Definitely a collection worth looking forward to.
There must be some secret warehouse or vault where they keep long-standing French couture houses in cryogenic sleep until someone appears who seems worthy and skilled enough to launch it into new heights.
The last decade has seen the re-animation of a number of quasi-forgotten brands, including Lanvin, Balmain, or more recently Kenzo . Yes, there was even a time, when Dior Homme scraped a living selling socks and ties at airport outlets, before a certain Monsier Slimane came along in 2001 turning it into a decade defining brand.
Another one of these sleeping beauties, that has recently experienced a full-blown renaissance, Carven has since risen from the depths of oblivion to one of the most sought-after fashion brands at the very moment. Ever since his menswear debut in 2012 we’ve been in love with Guillaume Henry’s effortless yet powerful interpretation of traditional French Chic. His proposition for Fall/Winter season however needs a second glance in order to be fully appreciated. The overall composition seems a lot more concept driven than in previous collections. Which on the hand provides compelling contrasts but on the other hand, at the sight of cropped pants which end just bellow the knees, makes us doubt just how winter appropriate it is. However, we must look past these petty dissonances in favour of Carven’s strengths, which are located mainly yet not exclusively above the waistline.
And yet again we get to see a number of outerwear and knit pieces that impress with an eclectic mix of colours and materials. Fur lined coats, fuzzy mohair Fair Isle knits, and sharply tailored blazers, Carven skillfully bridges the gap between a contemporary preppiness and a subdued luxury, superseding the often uninspired A.P.C. as the go-to brand when it comes to highly wearable but affordable pieces.
If you came to Christophe Lemaire in hopes of seeing glitz and glamour, a sky-is-the-limit kind of luxury you are used to from his work for Hérmes you were most likely to be disappointed. Staying true to his rather sober and scaled-back design ethics, his proposition for upcoming Fall/Winter oscilates between a subdued new wave coolness – think of Joy Division meets A Flock of Seagulls – and the rugged nature of turn of the century workwear that seems to have arisen from a sombre August Sander photography. The lack of apparent luxury however is richly compensated by an according choice of premium materials, which sees besides a rather unusual yak wool, a return of Summer collection’s denim. Lemaire skillfully turns these rather contrasting materials into a very convincing overall collection, that features soft rounded coats and lapel-less blazers and generously cut multi-pleated pants – a staple which has become somewhat of a regular in Lemaire’s collections and which we highly recommend investing in.
August Strindberg is the driving force behind Acne’s Fall/Winter 2013 collection. The Swedish author and playwright, was one of the most famous and controversial figures of 19th century Swedish literature, and according to Acne mastermind Johansson, a full blown dandy. Anyhow, it is a known fact that he was clearly an afficionado of both the fine arts and beautiful young women. As well as a highly developed narcissict, with regular delusions and bouts of depression. Well, if this isn’t a solid base to build a fashion collection upon, then what? Jonny Johansson’s presentation, however, very much lives up to its expectations. Exhausting its possibilites and pinpointing the essential details without succumbing to overly excentric extravaganza,,which is usually, and correctly though, associated with dandyism. We get to see a well balanced collection that playfully cites 19th century Avant Garde on the backdrop of a Scandinavian soberness, which Acne is known and appreciated for: a fur-collared pea coat, elongated lose fitting shirts suggesting artists’ tunics and cropped pants make for an overall smart lesson in Swedish art history.
Christopher Raeburn is – when it comes to high fashion – the master of technical fabrics, hands down. Always on the lookout for obscure materials and dead stock military fabrics to scavenge he is somewhat more of a fashion engineer than fashion designer, or plainly worded: a fashion nerd. Raeburn is in a class of his own with a design approach that seems to value the production of the garment higher than the actual outcome – which is by the way no less than magnificent. His apparent nerdiness awarded him, however, with a certain degree of credibility that comes in handy when supplying staples, which challenge menswear’s (and womenswear) status quo. That guy definitely knows his stuff. And this is mirrored in that particular feeling you get,wearing his immaculate outerwear. I mean that gratifying feeling of actually not wearing a highly breathable and water repellent trash bag, but an elaborate piece of functional British, yeah, couture.