New York Collections: In the wake of protests and political uncertainty, mens unravelled as a call to action, an inspired response to a menacing, recalcitrant ruling — a time in American history where now, more than ever, clothing has a voice. Graphic tees and intarsia sashes at Raf Simons sent messages of both hope and uncertainty while devil-may-care gents at Varvatos were threaded with defiance, awakened in lynx print biker jackets. Silhouettes oscillated from taut and tailored to square and slouchy — appropriately reflecting the unbalanced and fluctuating state of the country.
David Hart’s finely calibrated man about town collection boasted velveteen bow ties and bubblegum ruffled dress shirts. Designed with the spotlight in mind, plaid suits in mouthwatering jewel tones radiated awards season splendour. Scarfs spun with elongated fridge edges were loosely tied under exquisitely tailored blazers to mirror an ascot-like effect. Challenging gender roles, the final look showed a black two piece tuxedo embroidered with charcoal squares, for the modern day Katherine Hepburn, a virile red carpet vixen.
DJ and designer Steve Aoki’s American debut menswear collection was a highly adrenalized showcase of camouflage and colour, drawing inspiration from counterculture of the late 1990s. An ode to skateboarding tribes and their autonomous way of life, Aoki’s Dim Mak Collection was a streetwear performance that would give Larry Clark a run for his money. A turntable of bold, eccentric, silhouettes unveiled pastel hoodies layered under neon accented bombers and lightweight cargo jackets. Matching flannel and denim outfits reinvented grunge to prove that Aoki has some tricks up his sleeve that veer from the ramp.
John Varvatos’s “Wild at Heart” themed spectacle had our blood pumping, abandoning Lynchian’s macabre absurdity for a — wearable — youthful — collection — that oozed rock n’roll through a sartorial amalgam of sophisticated outerwear with a feral spark. For millennial men who don’t want to dress like their daddies, animal print permeated the seams: pony finish calfskin leaped on Edwardian-style style jackets and a double-breasted wool topcoat was defiantly dusted with leopard print. Fingerless leather gloves accessorized velveteen tuxedo jackets paired with tight trousers to further exemplify the Dandy rockstar motif.
In a love letter, nay, a love billboard to New York City, Belgian designer Raf Simons, made his big apple menswear debut with an intersection of tailored topcoats accentuated with duct tape and oversized silken trenches adorned with woollen varsity sleeves. The fury and frenzy of the concrete jungle took on a more subdued form in Simons’s artfully crafted, layered looks that played with length and cut. Skyscrapers were best translated into metallic pearl necklaces that wrapped around models’ necks. Knitted sashes and striped sweaters in earthen tones were marked with Stateside iconography and tees were thwacked with antiestablishment slogans.
An inky realm of sleek, wearable silhouettes toyed with texture and fabric at Loris Diran’s BACK 2 BLACK namesake menswear show. Opening with a cardigan embroidered “My life is my message”, Diran, set the tone for what would be a calming odyssey of sophisticated streetwear. The Armenian-American designer’s minimalist collection focused on masterful tailoring and high-collared necks. Charcoal patchwork added dimension to streamlined outerwear destined to compliment Paris’s ashen sky.
Something naughty nudged at us when we entered the Death to Tennis unisex presentation, a voyeuristic impulse to “peep” encouraged by the brand’s British creators Vincent Oshin and William Watson. It was a fitting floorshow, because, much like the label implies, Death to Tennis is the anti-prep. What is the anti-prep? Well let’s just put it this way, the duo will never design a polo shirt. Instead, ultra-cool sweats in olive and ultramarine were displayed alongside quilted bombers and squarish denim two piece outfits. Models’ faces were covered with thin mesh stockings for an arousing finish.
From love letters, to, skate culture soliloquies, the concluding days of NYMFW were a testament to the grunge revival of the 1990s for those who chose to stay away from the religion of politics. Full flannel looks, unstructured woollens, denim on denim, and exotic animal prints stampeded the runway. All in all, mens offered an enlightening, creative riposte to a nation who refuses to be silenced.
Words / Chloe Rash