Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Best of Menswear - Spring 2013

(images c/o

I find that I like watching the progression of menswear shows because they provide me with a different perspective as to which outfits I like and why. With the womens shows, for instance, I look at each piece coming down the runway from a few viewpoints, such as:

A) Is the overall look flattering to the wearer (or rather, would it be flattering to a non-model)?

B) Is there something innately attractive about it and/or is there a particularly well-executed aspect to the outfit, be it print, color, cut, fabric, or all of the above?

 C) Is there a sense of newness to the look that lends a certain novelty to it? Is said newness so interesting that it could potentially spawn a new trend?

D) Do I like the outfit because it looks like a day-to-day outfit I would and could readily wear, an outfit that I would want my alter ego to wear, an outfit that is so luxurious, custom-made and untouchable that it would live only in my daydreams or is it unwearable, but should still be admired and commended like a beautiful piece of art?

There are always quite a few outfits I like for the artistic value they lend rather than for their attractive appeal. This can be good and bad. The bad comes into play when I like an outfit for its well-executed details, but then I forget about the big picture, namely that it may not be appealing to the opposite sex. I get so excited about little details like, for instance, a well-placed bow or pleated leather on an outfit that I forget that said bow is mounted atop a shoulder pad or that the pleated leather is also harboring sharp studs; neither look coinciding with traditional ideas of what men generally find to be attractive attire. For instance, I remember showing this Balmain Resort 2013 number to a guy friend, gushing over how much I liked the outfit, only to be met with resistance on his part. Our conversation went something like this:
Him (looking at the picture): "Wait, so, why do you like what she's [the model] wearing?"
Me: "The pants are perfectly tailored and they hit the ankle at the right point so that the heel isn't overlapped by fabric. The well-defined shoulders of the jacket offset the --"
Him: "Stop. I don't care about where the heels and the jacket meet, or whatever. Those are jester pants and they don't look good. Find a dress. Without that pattern. Seriously, it's weird."

But with the menswear shows, I browse the offerings both as a lover of fashion that takes into account the four types of criteria from above, and also from a woman's viewpoint, deciding whether or not an outfit, though it has interesting details or is artistically sound, would look appealing on a man.

 For instance, though I am in awe of how great this Alexander McQueen outfit looks on this particular model who is languidly standing in a whitewashed studio, if I were to see a guy-next-door wearing this, concerns about his character would most assuredly come up. Suffice to say, the ratio of chest hair exposed versus shirt plus the juxtaposition of interesting prints and then the addition of a pocket square would probably make me slink the other way. Unless this man was lounging casually on a yacht docked somewhere in Lido, then no, we'd not be friends.

But then take a peek at the Canali look underneath. The suit is elegant, yet relaxed, as is the jacket. This look conveys the message of, "I know how to dress and I take pride in my appearance, but clothes don't rule my life." The light jacket and the semi-relaxed fit of the suit, combined with the neutral color palette and malleable fabrics makes this look something I am in complete favor of. I feel as though I could hug this guy without worrying that I'd put a detrimental crease in anything that he's wearing.

That being said, here is a rundown of some looks that I favored from the Spring 2013 menswear shows.

Walter Van Beirendonck - This look would probably fall into the B and D categories from above. I like the crisp cut of the jacket, especially with the brass buttons (surprising) and it looks great when paired with the collarless piqué shirt. The sheer flamboyance of the look earns it a D, and that tophat is so Mad Hatter that I have no choice but to love it.

Neil Barrett - I think I like the idea of this look more than the actual outfit itself. By all means, put a casual douse on that formal jacket, but perhaps the satin lapels are pushing it over the top. But the colors are perfect and I like the "business on the top, party on the bottom" idea.

Hermès - Just as the above look from Neil Barrett suggested a split-down-the-middle ratio of casual to formal wear, then this look by French fashion house Hermès is the less dramatic, more luxurious cousin to it. And if the baseball shirt mentioned in the review by Tim Blanks is what we're seeing here, then it is made from chiffon crocodile.

Canali - This collection was pure gold. Several "themes" were enmeshed in designer Giorgio Canali's show, enabling people with varying tastes to cherry pick their way through the collection (or perhaps give every piece a thumbs-up). Looks ranged from relaxed, white suits that mimicked styles of Gatsby-esque landed gentry to the dramatic flair of a metallic suit to the bright and formal jackets that Brad Goreski tends to favor. Though there are eccentric additions to the outfits, they overall remain down-to-earth and approachable.

Ermenegildo Zegna - Dapper.

Diesel Black Gold - Somehow this works. Even with the vest. Especially with the bag.

Berluti - Italian-helmed, Paris-based brand Berluti is known for its fine leather mens shoes and bags. According to Tim Blanks' review, the brand used to offer its 'Alessandro' shoe in more than 100 colors, such was its commitment to ensuring that every customer got a pair suited distinctly for him.The brand has seemingly crept into designing clothing as well, and thank goodness for that, as each look in this collection lends a custom elegance that doesn't take attention away from the wearer, instead serving only to enhance him.

Brioni - Brioni's collection gains power from its simplicity. No frills or head-scratching accessories, simply well-hewn pieces cut from (what looks to be) crisp linen. Also, all of the great shoes. Lace-ups to loafers...all great.

Belstaff - This English brand is best known for the waterproof outerwear it created specifically for travelers, most notably its creation of waxed cotton used to repel the elements. The outdoorsy lineage can still be spied in the line's latest offerings, but with a decidedly more "city guy" appeal. But that could be due to the sandals. Can't ride a motorcycle, go spelunking or go hunting in footwear like that. But physically taxing activities aside, I'm a fan of what I see.

Burberry - Oh Christopher Bailey, always keeping us on our toes. The designer does a fabulous job of ensuring that the historic brand stays relevant with the younger generations, not only by introducing a makeup line, but also by employing famous Brits such as starlet Emma Watson and supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to star in ad campaigns. The curve ball that came at us in this collection? Neon metallics. On sandals, on sunglasses, on trousers...and yes, even on the brand's bespoke trenches. Some looks are blindingly bright, while others seem to mimic the brand's age-old appeal to neutrals...until you catch a neon-encompassed foot. Cheeky man, that Mr. Bailey. I like it.

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