Monday, January 16, 2017

BEAUTY: Clothing--Moncler Gamme Bleu

Thom Browne truly knows how to riff on a single theme. His collections are breathtaking in their focus and the sheer amount of mileage that Browne can wring out of a solitary idea or moment. He has been creative head of the menswear division of venerable French outerwear company Moncler since 2008, but he seems to never be at a loss for ideas. Every season seems effortless, and, well, right. For this Fall-Winter '17-'18 collection, he went back to the roots of Moncler as a company producing down jackets for skiing the Alps and riffed on the mountain climber as inspiration. The old-time goggles and cute, paste-on beards on his models hearkened back to those early Alpine explorers like Karl Blodig, John Ball, and Thomas Middlemore. But more than anything else, this collection was about climbing ropes and carabiners which criss-crossed outfits, trussing them up, sometimes even cabling together the legs of models who had to shuffle through the artificial snow of the runway space...all on Moncler's classic down jackets and ski pants in Thom Browne-blue, white, and red, with a smattering of navy, cornflower, and of course black (Browne has been a champion of black in his own collections for many seasons now...stay tuned for the Paris men's shows!).

BEAUTY: Clothing--DAKS

Filippo Scuffi, creative director at DAKS in charge of the brand's shows at Milano Moda Uomo, walked a tightrope of inspiration for this Fall-Winter '17-'18 collection. I love the strange wonkiness of it: it is as if someone who had never been exposed to British or European culture were only told about the idea of the classic British gentleman, the suit-wearing businessman in The City, even Eton and Cambridge men, and that person, from a vague explanation alone, came up with this collection. Seemingly stemming from an alternate reality where things are just slightly different, high-, and I mean HIGH-waisted trousers serve as a background for pinstripes that seem just a little off, plaids that seem scaled just a bit too large, and cuts that seem a bit too tight. It's fascinating, askew by just a a hair, even humorous, and I love it...

BEAUTY: Clothing--Damir Doma

The aesthetic of Turkish designer Damir Doma is a restrained, sober mix of Japanese cutting and a kind of futuristic, ascetic minimalism. It makes for gorgeous, solemn pieces of clothing (click on his name in the tags at the bottom to see previous posts). For his Fall-Winter '17-'18 collection at Milano Moda Uomo, Doma added a beautiful layer of texture to his canon. Leather, chunky sweaters, and two-tone knits embellished with velvet thread look great with his kimono-cut jackets, asymmetrical coats, and gorgeous high-waisted cinched trousers. The cumulative details of the entire collection aren't loud, they whisper...the collection is somehow ethnic and rooted in the past while existing in a future that may never arrive...

Sunday, January 15, 2017

BEAUTY: Clothing--Antonio Marras

Antonio Marras is quite a talented man, driven to express his ideas in many forms. As well as fashion, Marras is an accomplished artist with a current show at La Triennale di Milano called “Antonio Marras: Nulla Dies Sine Linea” (translated as “Not One Day Without a Line”) featuring paintings, drawings, ready-mades, and assemblages. The title clearly speaks to his near-visceral need to create. So this was a perfect space to show not only his Fall-Winter '17-'18 menswear collection but also his women's line as well. Inside the gallery were a variety of actors, dancers, mimes, and of course models all milling about the space. There was a towering bearded woman in a multi-layered skirt knitting and reciting a poem.

But there was a runway presentation as well, and the clothes, once out of their artistic surroundings, were equally as fascinating and engaging. Marras said of the collection, "I was thinking of a haunted castle in the rainy, foggy Scottish Highlands, full of ghosts and arcane presences swirling around as in a nightmare, or in a dream, as you prefer!" And what a dream: a parade of ghosts, mostly soldiers who died in or around said castle from the days or Rob Roy to WW I doughboys haunted the catwalk. The historical references were embellished with beautiful embroideries, appliqués, patchwork and intarsia. I can't help but be completely charmed and smitten with this collection, not only for its performance art presentation, but because the collection itself is so sweeping, so dashing, so dreamy and plays into my enduring love for New Romance.

Friday, January 13, 2017

BEAUTY: Clothing--Misc. London Collections: Men, FW '17-'18

London Collections: Men just ended in London, and here are a few details that caught my eye.

The Fashion East–administered new talent incubator called MAN shows three up and coming designers every season. The platform has produced some incredible talent including Craig Green. This season, a standout section belonged to Charles Jeffrey's Loverboy label. This Fall-Winter collection played on clothing from the Dark Ages through the Renaissance to Beau Brummel, including doublets and references to ecclesiastical cassocks...

...all over some pretty awesome square-nosed boots and monk strap shoes.

Christopher Shannon played on the anxiety of the zeitgeist in both a humorous but humorous-because-it's-true way by subverting the logos of large clothing retailers. Calvin Klein became "Constant Stress--I'm Done," the shoe manufacturer Timberlake morphed into Tumbleweed, and BOSS INTERNATIONAL proclaimed LOSS INTERNATIONAL. I think anyone with any sense and a head in which to process it is worried about the potential loss to come in our culture.

And since I'm a shoe man, two shows caught my eye. The Casely-Hayford show offered a fascinating shoe that on first glance is nothing special, but upon closer inspection turns out to be a kind of Frankenstein shoe, a cross between an athletic shoe and a sock in multi-colored fabric.

And Grace Wales Bonner showed some superb sandals--I know, I know, sandals for winter?--but the slight cut outs make them less of a sandal and more of a proper shoe. I adore her colors, harlequin diamonds, and cow spots. I once had a pair of black leather loafers whose tops were black and white hair on hide exactly like the pair in the middle on the bottom row. I adored them and wore those things until they literally dissolved.

BEAUTY: Clothing--Martine Rose

Martine Rose is a bit of an "underground" elusive designer of menswear--I will confess she was not on my radar--who has been showing flowing, voluminous trousers for many seasons now. And with this Fall-Winter '17-'18 collection at London Collections: Men, she continued to champion the wide-legged trouser--I love how it is cinched with a belt in many looks. There were a few trousers sporting a regular, relaxed silhouette, but even then, the detail at the waistband gave the illusion of three pairs of trousers worn at once. All this was shown with proper shirts and ties, accompanied by a variety of jackets from suit coat to sporting outerwear. And all models wore a fabulous asymmetrical haircut that was pure Phil Oakey circa 1980.

Phil Oakey, lead singer of The Human League, 1980

Thursday, January 12, 2017

BEAUTY: Clothing--Dame Vivienne Westwood

I'm so glad there is a Dame Vivienne Westwood in the world. She makes me happy and her creations brighten up the landscape quite a bit.

Whereas other designers work with a broad range of inspirations and can riff on anything from 1920s Paris to cavemen, Westwood riffs on herself. And more than any other designer, she can do that and come out with something extraordinary. It is her entire basic philosophy developed lo those years ago that make a Westwood garment what it is: the allusions to historical silhouettes, the references to cuts of garments from the Renaissance to the 1940s, and the explosive playfulness of 70s punk, which she, along with then-partner Malcolm McLaren (previously here), helped to invent. When she married her husband, the designer Andreas Kronthaler, she shared design duties with him. And while still actively designing at age 75, she has given control of the menswear division of her brand to Kronthaler...with her final approval of course. And he continues to riff on the DNA of the house just as well as she always has with some new, extra flourishes that dovetail beautifully into the Westwood oeuvre. Most notably, he has brought the toga/tunic/skirt/dress for men to the fore..which really is the future of clothing for men. More and more designers are showing men's and women's collections together (Westwood points out, "My very first shows were all mixed. Really, they were. Pirates, Buffalo Girls. . . . men and women together. Although, in this show some of the men are wearing dresses, which isn’t something they did much of before,") and the concept of menswear is changing to embrace alternative approaches.

And for this Fall-Winter '17-'18 collection back home at London Collections: Men--Westwood's first after having shown in Milan at Milano Moda Uomo for many years--Kronthaler gives us the exquisite suit cutting and tailoring (often asymmetrical, with those aforementioned historic flourishes) that is a hallmark of the house along with fantastic knit pieces. Also of note is the gigantic-scaled, jagged damask pattern on suits, and a pattern made up of a crowd of lurid faces--some sketched, some photographed--which included Dame Westwood herself in a sort of manic laugh. I don't mind that Westwood quotes herself since the original quote was so good, so original, so satisfying...we can stand to hear it again.