Is Fashion Ready for a Glam Makeover?
This past month of menswear shows has been a revelatory one: mainly, we have all witnessed a noticeable slowdown of the streetwear craze, much less prevalent at the shows (even for designers who have made streetwear their bread and butter, from Virgil Abloh to Berlin-based GMBH, which came up instead with a collection of very solid, modern tailoring) as well as on the streets, where Supreme logos-a-gogo and ugly sneakers were replaced – thank God, for I thought this day would never come – by simple, utilitarian puffas or wool coats and, yes, even shoes.
Balmain Fall/Winter 2019 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.
But that doesn’t mean the fashion industry in bulk has suddenly decided what’s next. Instead, there was a sense of mellowness to the season which left one feeling like designers were cruising through the motions, trying a bit of this and that in a bid to find something new that will stick. A sense of grave formality emerged in more than one show, true, but will classic tailoring executed in exactly the same way as it was before the explosion of streetwear excite hype beasts and trendy men all over the planet now? Doubtful. A more focused outdoors/mountaineering trend was also ubiquitous, and why not? It’s cool and exciting enough, seems in a way like a natural evolution from streetwear, and, above all, is just as instagrammable as those unreal-looking pictures of the Grand Canyon or the Icelandic fjords that populate our social media. Apart from that, though, trends were fragmented and tentative: Comme Des Garçons went punk. Givenchy leaned towards 70s flares. Alyx explored a sort of techno tailoring. Balmain went minimal (or as minimal as Olivier Rousteing can get). In London, Astrid Andersen cleverly ditched streetwear hype for a newly-found sense of hygge. And elsewhere, something new started to emerge.
Undercover Fall/Winter 2019 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo for NOWFASHION.
It might be wishful thinking on my part, but elements of glam were scattered here and there in many collections, going as far as to inspire entire shows. It’s not just the fact that leopard was literally everywhere on the catwalks (I’ll take a man clad in a leopard coat any day), but some of the best collections of the season were very personal interpretations of glam icons. Starting with Prada, an essentially romantic show which combined the spirit of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with the pop imagery of trashy horror films, including more than one aesthetic nod to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Miuccia Prada’s backstage statement that “it had to be a romantic show, and mainly I was interested in the understanding of humanity: weakness and the more delicate and naked aspects of humanity also. The rejected . . . the one who doesn’t have a career, set against a very tough world” translated into androgynous tailoring tightly cinched at the waist, naked torsos, and glossy fabrics in sepulchral black. At the other side of the colour spectrum was Jun Takahashi, who not only collaborated with Valentino on the ultra-desirable UFO prints (Starman, anyone?), but also presented an Undercover collection entirely inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Marching to the lovely, lovely music of “Ludwig Van” (the Wendy Carlos version, of course), models donned fur-lined dressing gowns, feathers, floor-length red capes, and even walking sticks (who could forget Malcolm McDowell strutting through a record store in a double-breasted purple velvet maxi coat?). However, no one went as all-out as Rick Owens. The Californian designer’s view of glam was all about structured shoulders, loud colours, platform sandals, and a bit of a camp spirit (the best thing about Owens, if you ask me) and was inspired by Larry Legaspi, the fashion designer responsible, among other things, for Kiss’ unmistakable look. “It’s a collection about the glory of lust and vice,” said the designer backstage (all too infrequent things in an era when your every move is watched over by social media and the role model for Gen Z-ers, Kylie Jenner, is an ultra-responsible 21-year-old mum and CEO to a billion dollar company). Owens is actually working on a book about Legaspi set to be published next October. “He created that silver and black sleazy 70s thing, to my eyes a combination of Art Deco and campy sci-fi. In fact, I found out later he was into the same sci-fi I was,” he explained.
Celine Fall/Winter 2019 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.
Hedi Slimane’s mood is much less dark, but the Parisian designer has always had a glam streak. Somewhere between new wave and a cool interpretation of classic dad fashion, his latest outing for Celine also included zebra-print coats, sequined leopard, leather drainpipes and fur, with not a sneaker in sight but a plethora of skinny ties (will millennials get excited about them?). Slimane’s trademark aesthetic is an audacious bet in today’s fashion landscape, true, but a quick glance at comments on Hypebeast comparing his work for Celine to, for instance, Vetements’ latest show speaks volumes about the quickly shifting priorities of, well, hype beasts. And as if super-established designers were not proof enough of a new trend, Ludovic de Saint Sernin, one of Paris’s hottest up-and-coming designers, showed no qualm about putting his models in ultra-androgynous transparent sequined tops, bejeweled backless numbers, and Claudine collar sweaters (with designs much in the same vein as those of Palomo Spain, another rising star). The question, obviously, is whether the trend will really catch on… Personally, I’m ready for a little less Kanye West and a little more Vince Noir.