Best of Men’s Fashion: London, Milan, Paris SS/18
With the month of men's fashion for SS/18 now drawn to a close, THE FALL looks back at some of the shows that most took our attention with designers once again proving that the men's sector allows for creativity and freedom of expression like never before.
In London Charles Jeffrey, Craig Green and Viviane Westwood all featured especially artistic elements in their shows. Both Jeffrey’s and Westwood’s dancers brought a much-needed burst of enthusiasm and excitement to an otherwise staid menswear week, understandable given the kind of month it has been in home affairs. All the more reason for London especially to celebrate the joy of creativity. Charles Jeffrey, in particular, is certainly someone to unashamedly divulge in the fun of dressing up and isn’t letting go of his Club Kid roots, which owes more than a little debt to Westwood herself in the spirit of joyful rebellion. While a full look or Anne of Cleaves wig might seem a little over the top, singularly the pieces are well made and very wearable. And his boots are amazing (see below centre).
Craig Green’s collection featured sculptural pieces, constructed using thin rods panelled with jersey and draped with cord, which bought to mind his first solo show ‘Silent Protest’. Green once again proves himself to be a designer whose use of textures, fabrics, colours and technique confirms he is very much deserving of his burgeoning prominence at the forefront of men’s fashion. Xander Zhou’s opening take on work wear had a robotic, utilitarian feel with models wearing wires clipped to the missing chest pockets on their shirts and rubber gloves, all emphasised by the office cubical set design. It then moved onto a happier world of bright bowling and tie-dye shirts and fantastic denim pieces before ending with rather unexplained space age inspired looks.
John Lawrence Sullivan’s retro-futuristic collection, which seemed to take its queues from both The Matrix and Blade Runner, worn with an Eastern European toughness while Liam Hodges successfully mixed strong masculinity, street wear with social commentary to confirm his place as the most among the most astute designer’s working today. Logos of “Noise” and “Faster, Faster” adorn many of the pieces referencing the constant noise of today’s technology-obsessed society and that fact that the youth of today refused to be silenced.
In Milan, Fendi went for an updated take on office chic, reimagining masculine classics of the 20 year period from the early 1950s to 1970s. Checked patterns featured heavily throughout the show with windbreakers and tracksuit tops with suede, fur and leather plus light almost see-through patterned jackets. Backstage after the show, Silvia Venturini Fendi explained the inspiration behind the collection’s executive motifs – as seen in ties and suit jackets reworked in a casual, more relaxed way. “You have young kids who are the head of start-ups and then become multi-billion companies in a few years, and so the attitude is changing and I think our life is changing”.
Prada’s theme of mixed workwear and casual clothing, jumpsuits and smarter tracksuits with the jackets tucked and blending in with trousers, went some way to explaining Miuccia Prada’s notion of duality between the human and virtual world as the main point of inspiration for the collection. “The feeling was really being one side that is the virtual reality and one side that is the human part. We live in this double world between the two, so that is what interests me,” she said. These binaries were investigated further with lots of tweeds contrasting with leather shirts while the show ended with the perhaps incongruous inclusion of utilitarian jumpsuits. “You never know the reason, just that you like it. Probably because they are simple,” was Ms Prada’s nonchalant reasoning, not that she need give one.
Philipp Plein, with his eponymous label as well as Plein Sport and Billionaire, could rightly be said to have owned Milan fashion week SS18, not only with his ubiquity but with sheer outright showmanship. With a Grease meets Fast & Furious show on the first night (for Philipp Plein), followed by wrestlers, pole dancers and boxers in his luxury sportswear brand Plein Sport, the final night saw a Shirley Bassy-style band with a James Bond theme for Billionaire.
In Paris, Rick Owens was one of the most talked about shows of the whole season for production, location and the collection, for which he scored highly on all three. Usually showing in the concrete basement of the Palais de Tokyo, this season, guests were taken outside. Above the water that forms the pool in the back courtyard, models circled an enormously tall, silver scaffolding structure, before descending a staircase and walking across the water. “It was really about exploring this building which is my favourite building in Paris So being able to put all the scaffolding and being able to climb all over it. It was almost like I was physically able to touch every little piece of it,” said Owens. “Clothes are aspirational and putting them on the highest level, it makes them more heroic.” Tailoring was prominent with high waisted and oversized trousers and cropped blazers.
Commes des Garçon gave one of the most joyous shows in Paris with the notoriously reclusive Rei Kawakubo perhaps unexpectedly giving us all the glitter and colour of 90s rave or noughties revival, with oversized glittered shorts and colourful animal prints of red zebra and bright yellow cheetah. Accessories such as doll heads with body parts dangling off them – like something Sid from Toy Story would have put together – confirm that despite Met Gala blockbuster exhibitions and the solemn chin stroking that often accompanies talk of Kawakubo’s (undeniable) genius, Comme is still capable of gloriously escapist fashion.
And from something maybe slightly unexpected, Haider Ackerman at Berluti gave us something particularly classic (but no less worthy) with wide cut tracksuit bottoms, smart trousers matched with light knitwear or bomber jackets, all in the palette if light summer colours. “There’s something optimistic happening now in this world, so I wanted it to be smooth and very gentle, but very effortless — not precious,” said Ackerman.
Words by Dee Moran, Elgar Johnson and Jolyon Webber.