RIP Formality: Menswear's New Mood
There is an abundance of streetwear, sportswear and utility wear in men’s fashion right now. Loads. So much so that even a clever collaboration with North Face by Junya Watanabe didn't stand out quite so much as it should have - because this genre of clothing has really caught on. RIP the suit. RIP formality. RIP any other type of men's clothing, really.
Rick Owens fashion show Menswear Collection Fall Winter 2017 in Paris
Instead it's a lot about functional items that protect from the elements and look kind of cool at the same time; or that have that protection quality as at Rick Owens where fashion's thirst for a puffa jacket continued - it started in London, swept through Milan and is hitting a crescendo here in Paris. Everyone is doing them. It's also really cold here right now. Owens’ came like sleeping bags that were twisted around the models and worn with stiff overalls that were pealing off the body. It was a little like concept camping. The key thing here, those enormous puffa jackets. Enormous.
But they've been tamer elsewhere - notably Junya, who took the aforementioned street brand as his starting point to make a collection that tapped into the commercial and wearable for plaid and corduroy mixed versions, tweed hoodies in there too for a country vibe. Because Watanabe is one of those designers like Prada who will one season go accessible (and still aspirational) and another slightly more offbeat. This was the former. And there was a sighting at Issey Miyake, too, though this was ultimately a low-key collection that focused on rumpled textures and relaxed silhouettes among a few techy twists.
Work your way lower down the fashion food chain - by which I mean brands that are less-well established or whose price points are more likely to be in-keeping with the street upon which they're sold (one imagines LV x Supreme will not come cheap) - and puffas and bombers continue to abound. From Unravel, the LA-French brand that's built a philosophy "destroying" before "creating", on to Les Benjamins. The latter launched in 2011 and, based in Istanbul, celebrates diversity, exploring eastern and western aesthetics through an overall streetwear look.
But while not everyone has been swept up in this phenomenon, those that have featured suiting and tailoring have dissected it their own way too in order to move away from the traditional formality we're used to seeing. Even at Dries it was more urbane with less of that overt crafty feel we know so well. It was parred down and any suiting was replaced by oversized jackets (the shape du hour right now, thanks to Balenciaga) and turn-up jeans. Paul Weller hair completed bomber bejewelled bomber jackets - it was, we were told, an exploration into archetypal garments. Something Aitor Throup looked at with huge depth for his G-Star Raw capsule collection also.
Because right now, with seasons all up in the air, it makes sense that the definition of a garment is too. We don't live in times where everyone works in an office and in which everyone wears a suit suit. We live in a time where most rules in every way are being thrown out of the window.
Lemaire was lyrical: a rounded silhouette up top for a rustic palette that boasted beautiful jackets and high-waisted trousers. There's always something inherently elegant about Lemaire. Everything working together just so to make the overall look one quite pure but that had a suitable edge too.
Ann Demeulemeester Menswear Fall Winter 2017 Fashion Show in Paris
At Ann Demeulemeester it was an ode to Puss in Boots - feather hats, romantic shirting with ribbons trailing, feathered jackets and a bohemian breeze to everything. It was a refreshing collection among a sea of utility and street that tends to feel austere. This had heart, whimsy, a soft mood. Of course, out in the real world, austere may be more appealing than lace and pie-crust collars. But as the increasing amount of shows including womenswear looks proves, this no longer has to be about girls over there and boys over there, separately. Collections of clothes are pretty much for everyone now.
Similarly at 22/4 Hommes, menswear and womenswear worked together to show an earthy palette of a collection, but one which did some great design tweaks on coats and jackets for detachable hoods that looked sleek and modern. Somehow there was a nostalgia and a modernity to be found here - the simple mix of function with form, it was a good edit.
Of course at Comme, the suit is never a suit. And it really was RIP for cropped versions that had their torso stolen; shirts seemingly hacked right off to reveal a midriff. And toy moulds hung from the bottoms of jackets or climbed up their backs. It was a complete rework of top hat and tails - the top hat now a coloured wig and the tails shimmering in pinstripes and customisation techniques.
So, so much streewear, is this a bad thing? It's a sign of the times, simply. And everything else keeps the season from being too much the same, luckily.