It's never been better for a day at the office. In their fall/winter 2014-15 collections, designers of men's collections are quietly borrowing features from the girls and morphing blacks and greys into something more colourful. Brands that weave their own textiles are sculpting them into 3-dimensional textures that look different according to the direction from which you look at them. Alongside the classical two- and three-piece suits, there are new themes from different parts of the world, such as British rugs, Mexican capes and Japanese kimonos. Dress code is quietly changing, and the "no sneakers" clause on invitations is being contradicted on the runways, with informal footwear accompanying formal dress.
Coordination has gone out of the window, replaced by ironic – or iconic – touches. Shoes that match sunglasses. Socks that connect to a handkerchief in the top pocket. A bright red clutch coordinating with a bright red tie. Or just a single, dramatic unanswered question, such as orange soles that bring light to every step you take.
Things are changing for women as well. Trouser and skirt suits are no longer necessarily the rigorously black, white and grey counterparts of male boardroom outfits, but are blossoming into creative works of art, silky and frilly and swaying with every step, in sumptuous fabrics and colours. With Burberry, the jacket and trousers become young and modern, in glorious deep greens and violet blues painted in voluptuously complex patterns.
Violet is an important feature for men as well this season. We spoke to Yvan Benbanaste, creative director at Pal Zileri, who said, "You know, violet is a classic colour, it is like grey for men. It's great to work with because it is supremely distinctive, and at the same time, it matches with everything. With all the classic shades of white, grey and black, but also with other colours. In addition, it is the quintessentially dandy colour..." and this is one of the great themes of the season.
Brioni is rewriting the formal menswear look, and their collection this season features a powerful Japanese influence. As the brand's Creative Director Brendan Mullane told us, "The result is the nearest thing to a Brioni kimono: we call it the Kyoto bomber jacket, and it's hand painted. In our kimono sartorial jacket, the Japanese closing technique, with a knotted belt, is superimposed onto a Brioni jacket."
Valentino's men are mixing it, two-piece pinstripes worn with sneakers, narrow ties and very large sunglasses, grey suits over colourful knitwear. Some of this mod 1960s look can be seen in women's garments by the same brand, with brightly-coloured capes brightening up grey skirt and white blouse. Ports 1961's women are strictly black and white, but it's all about power, with lots of pockets and belts. Queens on the office chessboard.
On this ever-changing scene, details are king. Shoes, and bags, where it just takes a touch to project banality into eye-catching brilliance. Such as the hand-coloured shoes by Russell & Bromley, with colour moving from tan at the heel to black at the toe, or the Oporto shoe by the same brand, brought to life by an electric blue sole.
A last consideration on labels. In many cases, the names and logos are not there any more (though of course a brand like Burberry still weaves its variations on its signature tartan), and are sometimes replaced by customer personalization – your own label. Brendan Mullane said, "We're like a concierge service for the customer, enabling them to be part of a menswear club. It's not just the exterior appearance: it's as if our interiors were as beautiful, even more beautiful. When you buy Brioni, you don't need the visibility of labels or logos, because you already know what the brand is, the code and the detailing. I think that real luxury is succeeding in doing something pure."