Three takeaways from the Spring/Summer 2018 Men’s Fashion shows

What lies beneath

Following the shows from fashion week can be a little disorienting. Though the designers are putting out collections not due in stores for another six months or so, the messages they’re sending down runways are immediate and worth thinking about.

The brave stitch clothes stitched with underlying messages
Take for instance the urgency of the messaging at Off-White, Kenzo and Thom Browne. Virgil Abloh sent a political message at his debut show in Pitti Uomo with refugee poetry by artist Jenny Holzer alongside a collection of clothes that were an upscale imagination of people on the run. Kenzo, meanwhile, stuck to punchy clothes and vivid prints. Look a little carefully, though, and you might realise that the entire cast of the 36-look show was entirely East Asian, a casting choice that reflects the ethnic conversation of the moment.

At Thom Browne, reconciling gender dichotomy was at hand. He cut skirts and dresses for men in traditional tailor’s fabrics, pairing them with heeled shoes, and closed his show with a half-bride-half-groom experiment: tuxedoed male in the front and bouquet-clutching gown-wearing female in the back. Browne changed the face of tailoring with his super-skinny and cropped tailoring once, and here’s hoping he can now cement a conversation on gender.

Dior Homme, Paris Fashion Week
Dior Homme

When in doubt, play it safe
While there are designers pushing boundaries, some are quite content with colouring within the lines – albeit very carefully and beautifully. Dior Homme is now in its 10th year under Kris Van Assche. For this show, he deconstructed suiting tropes and stitched it back together with his signature sportiness. Suits had their sleeves cut off and lapels made to resemble polo shirts. Van Assche is cunningly good at keeping Dior Homme modern, while keeping intact his own spirit of activity and the brand’s heritage.

For Hermes’ Veronique Nichanian, normal is an agenda unto itself. The stalwart of the house’s menswear has made unassuming clothes an art. This season, she played with subdued shades of bordeaux, camel and navy. There’s never really a ‘wow’ moment with her shows because the consistent strength is in refined and perfected detail. Nichanian might not be bothering with remaking the wheel, but she sure has it looking the best it could be.

This philosophy was also adopted at Dries Van Noten and Valentino. The Belgian designer’s business is famously built around his ready to wear, a rarity for a lot of brands today. In that sense, Van Noten has one of the finest senses of culture, taste and desire. His Spring collection was full of slouchy and relaxed pieces in muted and dusty hues, though oddly missing his regular embroidery. Perhaps it was a sign that simplicity is more vital now. Pierpaolo Piccioli, likewise, gravitated towards the makings of good clothing – not fashion, mind you. His was a show that homed in on and elevated clothes on the backs of men today.

Louis Vuitton, Paris Fashion Week
Louis Vuitton

It’s never too early to plan for a vacation
But fashion can always be an escapist fantasy from the ordinary. Look at the island getaways Kim Jones took us to at his Louis Vuitton show, complete with double-layered organza shirts and wetsuit shapes. Or perhaps the many relaxed printed shirts Paul Smith showed, which he, however, hesitated to ascribe to Hawaii. At AMI, the venue was flooded with pink sand. There’s definitely a mood about a holiday right now, and nearly all the signs are pointing at sunny getaways. Count us lucky, then, that we live in the tropics. If you’re of a different persuasion, then take comfort in Sarah Burton’s Alexander McQueen collection. The collection there was full of warm leathers, quilts, wools and shearlings that played with seasonal transgression.

We’ve also covered the following shows:
Pitti Immagine Uomo 92: Moments that defined the show and three brands that caught our eyes
Milan Fashion Week: Our favourite runway shows and trends we’re ready to adopt
Paris Fashion Week: Four brands that displayed brilliant styles

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Published July 5, 2017
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