Sportswear, streetwear... Am I the only one who’s had enough?
Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the breaking of rigid style codes, norms and – consequently – social schemes, however I have lately found myself growing slightly impatient with t-shirts and sweatpants.
The so-called athleisure, imported from New York and reaching experimental peaks in London and Berlin, is most certainly to be credited for a certain democratisation of fashion - more accessible and more inclusive (also age-wise). It also perfectly dresses the social detox/into the wild trend, that sees people fed up with urban restraints and longing for the freedom of the greater outdoors. But, like with pretty much everything, at one point it just gets too much: it stops having a revolutionary value, it ceases experimental research, conceptualism, artistic references and just becomes a fancy way for millennials to feel fashionable and fashion-savvy. What’s worse is that also more than a few respected fashion maisons - who had up till now graced the catwalks with their sartorial creations – decided to give this easy-selling thing a go and came up with entire collections which ended up much too far from the brand’s original DNA but also failed to be street-appropriate. Neither here nor there.
Aren’t I glad to see couture slowly making its way back during these men fashion weeks! If the hoodie is here to stay, then better it be paired with some sartorial research. Taking the best of the two worlds might be the wisest way to respond to the demand for athleisure without ignoring the world’s need (yes, it’s a need, though perhaps not a primary one) for fashion.
London – Chalayan
If we take a look at what happened during London fashion week in September (the women schedule) it‘s rather clear that the British capital is currently fashion’s place to be. What with Erdem and Simone Rocha’s masterpieces, not to mention Tisci’s Burberry, the London days have definitely been the most exciting ones in quite some time and we are all counting down the days to the February shows. But, despite its shortness, the men’s schedule also delivered some novelties and purposely kept up with its feminine counterpart. One name, Houssein Chalayan, stands out amongst the surprises.
Usually categorised as a conceptual creator, Chalayan has mostly been relegated to the niche of cultivated fashion and art connoisseurs. Not bad, but also – being it unfortunately a rather small niche- not entirely good either. An exceptionally talented designer, with strong narrative skills deserves, in my opinion, much more attention. His FW19 collection is rather emblematic of how this streetwear tornado could, or should, be approached. By taking the best of the two worlds (the hoodie one and the sartorial one) Chalayan responds to the demand for athleisure without ignoring the world’s need (yes, it’s a need, though perhaps not a primary one) for fashion. His work interpretation of the trend according to a signature style, a fine blend of creativity and extremely wearable pieces which balances sport items, button-down shirts and an interesting palette.
Related article: SIHH 2019 Unveiling the Trends
Milan – Dolce & Gabbana
If London had a fair share of surprises Milan, well, hadn’t. The fashion week per se was not bad, just slightly uneventful. In short, Prada and Pal Zileri are spot on as usual, N.21 is as cool as ever, MSGM keeps the market happy and sans Armani the kermesse lacked of a certain je ne sais quoi. If we talk about young and exciting, Sunnei is perhaps the only brand worth mentioning; However, since we are talking about the return of sartoriality, spending a few words on Dolce & Gabbana is the least we can do. The Dolce & Gabbana show was an ode to tailoring, to elegance, to opulence. A spectacular display of velvet jacquards and brocade which paid tribute to the Sicilian aristocracy, while multi-coloured sequins hinted at future festive plans and the suiting honoured the Italian sartorial tradition. There’s no going around it, Italians just have style in their blood and, despite its many problems and contrasts, one thing that Italy can teach the world is Elegance. So one might as well do it properly, like Dolce & Gabbana did, by adopting the old-school show format, complete with a narrator which explained the idea behind every single creation and setting up an atelier in the background. Bravo!
Paris – Acne Studios
On the other hand, Paris, hosting the shows this week, is proving merveilleux. CMMN SWDN changed the meaning of the word ground-breaking, Off-White – after having rocked in Florence as guest designer for Pitti Uomo – has taken over La Ville Lumière, Valentino is always Valentino and Undercover has delivered what is probably its best collection ever. But what I found particularly interesting is Acne Studios. The Swedish brand has always managed to artfully mix tailoring and casual cool, but this season the concept behind the collection was even more interesting than usual. Jonny Johansson, creative director of the maison, said “I wanted to imagine our own counter-cultures which then morph together, with their own ways of living and surviving”. The result is a gathering of academics, anarchists, bohemians and off-grid pioneers who rub elbows in anew idea of community. A strong focus on identity with a style that manages to be both practical and romantic.
Photo Courtesy of Press Offices
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