Menswear

R.I.P Virgil, passer of the flame



Virgil Abloh Louis Vuitton

“I don’t come from where I’m supposed to come from. So I have to prove that this is design, that this is art, that this is valid.”
Virgil Abloh

Sad times in fashion. The news of Virgil Abloh’s untimely passing (from a private 2-year rare cancer illness) rocked the fashion world this week. But also created shock waves beyond. A pop culture icon whose influence stretched way past the boundaries of the catwalk, Virgil epitomised the modern-day Renaissance man who created product, music, happenings, communities and perhaps most importantly, the myth of the man himself.

Despite all the post-mortem plaudits, as a designer, he was polarising.

He was accused of copying, producing too many collabs, lacking finesse and focus. He was criticised for producing merch, not luxury. Was his brand appealing to me? Not really. Did it matter? Not at all. For the businesses he worked with, he had the Midas touch among a generation of fashion outsiders who craved participation and acceptance via owning the It thing. (He spoke of designing for ‘the tourist and the purist’.) He had a great sense of timing, repackaging the zeitgeist for the new young hype luxury customer. And he did so at any price point, from his Louis Vuitton menswear collections to his €10 version of the IKEA shopper.

Perhaps most tellingly from the outpouring of love on social, his legacy was not necessarily design, but a human connection with – and cheerleading of – those coming up the ladder after him. He certainly seemed to enjoy messaging any number of young creatives. Maybe excessively. ‘Clout’ DMs shared in the last few days show he seemingly was on texting terms with hundreds of people for whom his encouraging words propelled them to aim high.

All very admirable, but did this vast output lead to his demise? I’m curious to know what drove him to push himself so hard. Ego? His own need for acceptance? Or something else?

I remember in 2019, when his doctor ordered him to take 3 months off his relentless travel schedule. His doctor obviously knew something we didn’t. Yet, Virgil continued to push ahead, hustle harder than ever, cementing his place in fashion history while championing the new guard. It seems to me as if he felt a duty to continue his work clearing a path for the under-seen and under-heard, perhaps knowing that he only had a small window left to do it in. Quite a remarkable lack of ego, if that’s the case. As he once told Highsnobiety, “My goal with all my work…is that I want another person to come in after me and do things that wouldn’t have been able to have been done before.”

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGE: Louis Vuitton menswear by Virgil Abloh
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Street style, but make it corporate



Wall Street style

Love this New York Times photo-feature on what Wall Street is wearing now.

New York Times picture editor Brent Murray worked with photographer Melodie Jeng on this Bill Cunningham-style photo study to ascertain the current corporate dress code of the city’s New Normal.

So where are we?

Post-pandemic we’re seeing bankers and lawyers loosening up in slim chinos, tieless shirts and ballet flats, with additional sightings of trainers, Telfar totes and something called a Lululemon ABC pant* (aka a 5-pocket jean designed for all-day comfort). With fewer in-person meetings, it’s more acceptable to swap out stiff suits for a smart chino and knitted polo. (more…)



Everyone’s talking about Balenciaga couture



Balenciaga Couture Fall 21

The highlight of couture week has been Balenciaga couture Fall 21. A tribute to the absolute essence of Balenciaga, it was both austere and grandiose, and I think it’s fair to say, surpassed everyone’s expectations.

Having kind of tuned out recent Balenciaga ready-to-wear collections (too hype-y, too meme-y!), I was enthralled by this first Balenciaga couture collection in 53 years. The minimalist silhouettes, (what a fab trench!), the space-age headgear, the jeans and tee treatment and the baublicious jewels. What looked like a crocodile skin skirt and trousers were in fact made from tiny pieced-together squares of leather. There were shades of Margiela (one of Demna Gvasalia’s most respected designers), McQueen and – to my eye – Raf’s Dior. (more…)



SS22 menswear: Go to the nightclub with silk shirts on



Wales Bonner men ss22

The joy revolution that started to emerge during the SS21 collections last September is fully showing up for SS22. The most prominent menswear shows have been the ones with a message of optimistic hedonism expressed through colour, music and a throwback to rave culture.

For example I loved Dries van Noten’s Primal Scream soundtrack serenading us through the streets of Antwerp, with the lyrics of Loaded encouraging us to “be free to do what we wanna do!” Van Noten expressed the mood of his design team as “clothes to go and have fun in. Just enjoy things. Go to the night club with silk shirts on.” The shirts were the big highlight; big in every sense, printed with artwork by Rubens and Breughel, as well as photomontages depicting Antwerp city scenes, teamed with loud sunglasses and washed silk outerwear (more…)