“MENS AND WOMENS”
Nasir Mazhar's invitation gave little away, bar that three-word strap line. But it was enough to spark a flash of extra interest in a fashion week where women on a menswear catwalk are largely used as window dressing. (In the interests of equality, it should be noted that the same applies, in reverse, to the womenswear schedule.)
And it was especially interesting given that the menswear and womenswear strands of Mazhar's label have led such separate existences. From the outset, his subversive, youth-inspired, logo-drenched mens' garments have tapped into London's growing shift away from traditional menswear codes; his womenswear, meanwhile, has taken a less travelled path -- exploring the possibilities of incorporating femininity into sportswear, rather than simply rejecting it.
Side by side, on today's runway, the gender gap was still clear -- albeit narrowing. In place of the bold colours of previous seasons, Mazhar went for relentless black, with logos reduced to a streamlined tone-on-tone “NAS,” and with shadowy camouflage prints and white hairline patterning forming the sole embellishment. On the menswear side, the low-key mood continued in menacing, flattened separates; on the female front, though, that same attitude kept erupting into sudden bursts of carnival flounce. It made for an unexpected disconnect at moments -- but it also opened up a lively dialogue between the sexes. Because there were also sleek, cleverly underplayed womenswear pieces-- and quietly embellished surface treatments, from ruching to open work stripes to fine bonding details, for the men. And the unevenness merely highlighted the depth of the gender discrepancy, even today; Mazhar's conversation, it's clear, has only just begun.