Menswear's New Mood: Spring 2015
A collective experience, a forum for the exchange of ideas and a legitimizing stage for emerging and established brands alike, Fashion Week often represents the sole outlet for a designer's unfiltered vision, before its adoption by retailers, merchandisers, editors and advertisers. Following the London, Milan and Paris menswear shows, we looked beyond individual trends, to the overall mood of each city for an insight into the contemporary dialog between fashion, creativity and commerce.
An incubator for new talent and an arena for the full spectrum of sartorial expression, London is the only city where a relative newcomer like Craig Green can show alongside an international powerhouse like Alexander McQueen. This tension between established and experimental, Savile Row and Shoreditch, surfaced in almost every collection, from Green's reimagined, robe-clad archetypes—the warrior, the guru and the disciple—to Tom Ford's modern take on timeless Western tropes—blue jeans, plaid shirts and cowboy boots. More obvious was the concept of the "evolved suit," as seen at A. Sauvage, Agi & Sam and Dunhill. Most important was Sarah Burton's admission that there would be no more nostalgia at McQueen, instead showing white suits cut with surgical precision and splashed with bold, primary-colored Kabuki patterns.
In stark contrast to London, Milan eschewed experimentation in favor of a new luxury based on normality. Almost across the board, pieces were classic, timeless and perfectly suited to the real world, from Italo Zucchelli's monochromatic flesh tones at Calvin Klein to Georgio Armani's subtle, pared-down suits and soft, draped coats. Here the underlying tension appeared to be one of creativity vs. commerce. Every piece from the major players felt commercially viable, infinitely wearable and just a little restrained—unobtrusive shapes, neutral shades and prints that blend into the urban landscape. Essentially, each show felt like a procession of products, less concerned with creating a fashion fantasy and more with projecting their functional, real-world appeal.
What Milan worked to construct, Paris destroyed. Clearly defined boundaries were washed away by collections that were seasonless, genderless and timeless. Haider Ackermann's vision of disheveled decadence was articulated in richly embroidered silk robes, shirts and scarves. The rock-inflected androgyny continued at Saint Laurent with Hedi Slimane's now-trademark ponchos, second-skin jeans and sheepskin vests, while Maison Martin Margiela was a master class in reinvention and deconstruction—suits shredded, shirts torn and coats crafted from parachute fabric. A blurring of seasons and genders certainly, but also a cue to the way in which future fashion may be consumed; if it can be worn by a man or a woman, day or night, in spring or fall, is it more marketable?
Together, these seemingly contradictory moods paint a picture of an industry attempting to find a balance, to recognize the designer's need for creative freedom, while acknowledging that success is tied to saleability. On a broader scale, what these collections distill about their designers—and creative minds in general—is an inherent conflict between breaking away and sticking with what sells. More specifically, our creative inclination to borrow from tradition, break it apart and twist it into something new.
Image Source: Associated Press