In January of this year menswear designers displayed their Autumn/Winter collections. Though designers on the periphery of commercial popularity were as daring as ever, larger fashion houses were equally keen to disregard conventional shape, providing spectacle and new trends aplenty.
The recent history of designer menswear has been decorated with burgeoning success in bringing something that finally looks like it resembles a designer’s ‘vision’ to the catwalk, rather than something that is purely commercially viable: i.e. expensive but dull. As far as I am aware, there are several key factors influencing what led to the creative eruption of the Fall ‘09 shows.
The predominant mode for left-field fashion magazines is to go unisex, and as such in order to make menswear look comparable to the designs for women, it was necessary to broaden the perspective of what constitutes menswear. Additionally, the foundation of John Galliano’s own menswear label and the growth of Hedi Slimane’s Dior Homme (no longer extant) represented a crucial outlet through which menswear grew. Literally. Prior to Galliano creating 60 outfits per menswear catwalk (incorporating unavailable couture pieces, simpler garments, underwear and considerable spectacle), a short run of 12-15 outfits was the norm.
The bankability of androgynous and anarchically-crafted pieces for men was certified last year by Prada with the reinvention of office-wear (buttons on the back of shirts, a second detatchable collar available for £50) that sold out in both Harrods and their own Bond Street store.
Raf Simons has thus presented his own take on office garments for the next season. The cinched waist in the picture immediately left is aggrandised ruthlessly by a pink, plasticised sleeve. The series is quite ingenious, and well worth a look given that it will inevitably be heralded as a breakthrough collection for Raf Simon’s stable (he also designs rathermore pared down collections for Jil Sander). Dior Homme, now at the behest of Kris Van Assche, has been criticised for dour catwalk shows, but the fact that the entire collection (and more) is generally sourced easily means that it is at least (logistically, if not financially) available. Watch out also for woollen blazers, arthouse grunge, and rubberised cloth.