Friday, 22 March 2013

A manliness guide to fashion

After reading 'Modern Menswear' by Hywel Davies, Lawrence King Publishing Ltd, 2009 I decided to define and describe what modern menswear means to me. 

Menswear has evolved, no longer are men accepting of just formal wear and sportswear as their two choices of clothing. It’s still not as developed as the women’s market with constant new trends each season; however the way men feel and look at fashion certainly has changed. When in the past tie and shirt connoted business man attire and jeans and t-shirt equalled youth and rebellion these traits have become less distinguished with the changing attitude of men wanting to become more individual and avoid conformity. It is with this changing aesthetic that man’s magazines such as Inventory, Port and AnotherMan were created that merge style with creativity and intelligent content that strive to equip the modern man with choices of fashion and general style that are at the fore front of menswear design and luxury.

In the past menswear has been influenced most notably by street wear, military and musical influences with icons such as James Dean, Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen as fashionable icons. It was the relaxed feasibility coolness of their fashion, the whole dressed down ‘bad boy’ image of distressed jeans and leather jacket that appealed to a ‘guys guy’ persona.

Now to the modern man who strives for a look that distinguishes him from normality in conforming his confident persona through his styling choices, there are I feel six different styles that he could adapt to his personality.

1.       Enhanced sportswear
2.       Military
3.       Twist on a classic
4.       Modern Savage
5.       Avant Garde
6.      Refined Simplicity

I will explain what I feel each of the six different styling traits are and the designers behind the look.

Enhanced Sportswear
Y-3 A/W2013 - Y-3 A/W2013 - Dsquared2 S/S2010- CP Company A/W2013

What I mean by enhanced sportswear is clothes that have the relaxed fit and style of sportswear but are not worn for gym, different use of material and texture from normal polyester of sportswear and clothes which have masculine sex appeal all symbolise enhanced sportswear.

Dsquared2 celebrates the masculine physique their clothes are designed with functionality and an edge of hedonistic sex appeal in the way they are modelled by uber tanned Adonises on the catwalk. Their clothing is worn by confident, toned men who are styled and take inspiration from sportswear. CP company are also part of enhanced sportswear trait but unlike Dsquared2 who take inspiration from physique of sportswear they look to sportswear in a futuristic setting in which their clothing is designed and equipped to protect the body against the ailments of their surroundings, goggles attached to hoods, transformable items and water repellent material are all traits and adaptations of CP company clothing. Whereas the clothing of Y-3 can be described as elegant sportswear the collaboration between Adidas and Yohji Yamamoto focuses on outer wear, designed around changing proportions of the silhouette. The clothing has their roots in sportswear but has been repackaged and redesigned to appeal to updated market who wants to take influence from sportswear but in an elegant and refined setting. 

McQueen A/W 2004 - Dr Marten A/W 2013 - McQueen A/W 2011

Military wear has always influenced aspects of menswear be it by the connotations of what the military symbolises – strength, masculinity and respect which men aim to reflect by their choice of clothing. McQueen back in 2004 A/W collection was influenced by 1930s army clothing in which he wanted to represent a physical manifestation of a fearless attitude by use of shock tactics surrounding his clothes, camo print, reinforced head wear and defined silhouette all aspects which have roots in military. Come full circle to McQueen A/W 2011 directed by Sarah Burton again stylised and influenced by military which shows that it will always be a symbol which provokes reaction in its wearer and have a strong influence in menswear. Recently Dr Martens are having their moment more than ever are different types of people wearing Dr Martens which have their roots in military wear. They represent strong, hard wearing, reinforced silhouette of boot which A/W 2013 have been repackaged with studs, camo print and animal hide. It’s all about subdued anarchy. 

Twist on a classic
Westwood S/S 2013 - Victor Glemaud A/W 2010 - Raf Simons S/S 2013

A twist on a classic is a reference to how menswear which has its roots in formal business attire of coat, suit, shirt and basic separates has been remixed in its formal wear by suits in pop colour, different fabrics and textures, change of silhouette, shorts and layering all of the traditional suit. Raf Simons has feminised masculinity by his S/S 2013 menswear which had suit jackets with shorts which had cut outs giving a feminine twist to suit. Victor Glemaud plays with classic knit wear and challenges its traditional aspect by colour making for bold knitwear which has school boy edge. Westwood Man label is for fashion conscious individual man it restyles classics by adding different textures, pop of a collar, shine to a shirt which all make for individual look to a traditional canvas. 

Modern Savage
Rick Owens A/W 2013 - Blaak Homme Spring 2010

What I mean when I say Modern Savage is how clothing can take on and present a persona by use of colour and texture and modern savage is a step on from grunge or punk styling it is reflected in colour black by strong lines and texture it is a reflection of modernised chaos - clothes that have the capacity to intimidate. Blaak Homme first collection ‘Black Magic’ in 1999 symbolised how they take inspiration from world cultures and reinterpret in a way using strong fabrics such as leather to reinforce their clothing with an edginess. Rick Owens clothes have an atmosphere surrounding them it is not so much about an individual item but its submersion with one another in a colour palette of grey, black and white which give the clothing a Gothic post apocalyptic style that connote an hardness and directness on the wearer. 

John Galliano S/S 2010 - Walter Van Beirendonck A/W 2012 - John Galliano/Bill Gayton S/S 2013

Think surrealism, imagination, fairy tale, topsy turvey world these are some of the scenarios I imagine when I think of avant-garde menswear. It is a romantic, poetic, theatrical take on menswear which has no formality or functionality to the garments. Galliano in 2010 showcased a great tumble of colour, layering, shape and texture on his menswear collection which had a nod to middle East, Aladdin esque vibe. This S/S 2013 Galliano menswear designed by Bill Gayton still has an avant garde quality to it by use of print and misses matching textures which cause a sensation and confusion to the eye kind of like a fashion kaleidoscope. Another designer who also designs with an avant garde style is Walter Van Beirendonck he plays with visual jokes, science fiction; cartoon characters all in his designs creating loud innovative fashion, the garments give energy to the wearer. The designs have no logical explanation or fit into any general standards of menswear it one truly of the avant garde – he brings his clothes to symbols of art. 

Refined Simplicity

Louis Vuitton A/W 2013 - Tom Ford A/W 2013 - Marc Jacobs Spring 2013 - Dior Homme S/S 2013

Refined simplicity and classic style are similar in appearance apart from subtle difference of refined simplicity is more tailored to men who want to be stylish rather than fashionable it is about the cut of a suit and texture and lines rather than classic style of traditional pieces. Dior Homme defines this style well the hyper skinny silhouette created by Hedi Slimane is centred around the sharp cut, Kris Van Assche now head designer of Dior Homme since 2008 still creates suits which are luxurious yet simple in their fluid tailoring. Kim Jones menswear designer for Louis Vuitton won designer of the year in 2012 for his menswear, he joined Louis Vuitton in 2011 and since then has worked in reinventing the brand with bright pop coloured suits all cut with intrinsic detail giving a polished effect. Marc Jacobs I feel is the most suited to being described as refined simplicity by his clothing, he has an air of male credibility surrounding him which his menswear reflects he fuses music and fashion in creating style which is refined yet cool. I think it is by his clever advertising campaigns that land him with this credibility in 1997 he had Kim Jordan from Sonic Youth shot by Jeurgen Teller the focus from the credibility of Kim Jordan and Jeurgen Teller is translated in the image and through the styling launching Marc Jacobs as stylish refined brand. 

I think it is fun how menswear is evolving and how men are more aware of the fashion that is around and not just seeing fashion as a means to an end but enjoying it for its frivolous essence in expressing your personality. To the future of menswear I think that more magazines such as AnotherMan, Port and Inventory will be produced which focus on fashion in a creative intelligent way which will attract and inspire more men to consider how they dress. 

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