Quite often the menswear shows give a peek into what the womenswear shows will look like. Even more so if you like your womenswear on the non froufrou side. So here’s a primer to myself on the menswear AW19 highlights so far. Valentino, Prada, and Jil Sander had the best knits, Vetements, the most interesting concept, and Dior and Raf Simons the best accessories.
Vetements was really interesting to me. A commentary on the dark web, the hoodie-balaclava hybrids were creepy but also symbolic of people wanting to withdraw into themselves. The slogan tees and sweats (‘I survived swine flu – so now I’m vegan’) and accessories like a sticker-covered phone case are the kind of entry-point statement pieces a young fan will buy into. I still remember my fashion student years clearly and these are the pieces you wear to mark yourself out to other members of your style tribe. I like that Vetements has a clear idea of its customer.
At Louis Vuitton I must admit I couldn’t find much to love from Virgil Abloh’s overwrought layers and awkward silhouettes. I would love him to edit more! The notable element for me was seeing that he’d got Futura 2000 to graffiti the street set. Futura is an iconic name in early hip-hop and graffiti culture and I can very easily imagine a bag collaboration with Vuitton and Futura, a la the Sprouse or Jeff Koons ones. Mr DRG suggested that Futura could do a great job reinventing the Louis Vuitton logo – I’d definitely be interested in that collab.
On the other hand, I loved Raf Simon’s super-tight edit of refined outerwear and utilitarian details. There was a David Lynch thread running throughout, most desirable in the photo-print placements of Laura Dern and Kyle MacLachlan on slouchy knitwear. But possibly my favourite element was the headwear; oversized helmets that were strangely elegant with their trailing buckled straps.
Such is the speed of revolving doors at fashion houses, I had to Google to remind myself who the latest artistic director of Berluti is. It’s Kris Van Assche, who did a great job with his structured tailoring and a heavenly colour palette. If last season (i.e. this season, i.e. ss19) was all about the soft pale pink suit, next season is about a macho magenta. I love it and the good news is it was served up on some excellent suiting for women as well.
I’m really into anything tenty or hoody at the moment; must be the current arctic spell that’s making me feel like hunkering down in a giant sleeping bag for the foreseeable future. Plus my obsession with the @saunders_militaria Instagram account… Craig Green is one of the few designers who has a clear signature rooted in utility silhouettes yet always with an unpredictable experimental spin. I can live without the psychedelic bubble wrap stuff, but the jewel colours and scenery-print pieces were great. (Right now I’m also loving his Moncler collab.)
As we reach peak street wear, there’s been a lot of chatter around the return of the suit. Jil Sander had a go at rethinking the suit with relaxed proportions and zipped utility trouser bottoms. I’m all for it, along with the patchwork panelled knits. It’s also good to see the bucket hat sticking around for another season…
Never one to let us down on the textile innovation front, Dries van Noten gave us grown-up tie-dye on knitwear and outerwear. A big standout: psychedelic bursts of tie-dye on silky reversible raincoats. Just lovely.
Valentino’s Pierpaulo Piccioli can do no wrong at the moment. His collaboration with Undercover’s Jun Takahashi got rave reviews for its surreal space-themed prints and knits. And his menswear shapes are always on point, including his cropped tailored pants teamed with techy trainers and overcoats that were worn “with the ease of a hoodie.”
Hermes rarely strays far from its slim Parisian silhouette and thankfully hasn’t chased the hypebeast customer. Some things are sacred! I especially loved the graphic placements on classic I-presume-cashmere knits and the faultless leather outerwear.
Kim Jones is always up for an artist collab and some of the standouts from his AW19 show for Dior were the couture-level pieces crafted in collaboration with Raymond Pettibon (the artist famous for his work with Sonic Youth and Black Flag). I love these delicious illustrative embroideries on sweaters and shirts The sari-like swathes of silk were a nod to Dior’s 1955 ‘Soirée de Lahore’ dress, adding a ‘feminine’ twist to tailored tuxedos. Accessory-wise, I’m seriously over the trend for puppy-shaped leather-goods but I’m all for the phone cases (apparently designed to carry two phones, not just one) and next-level Air Pod holders.
There’s a reason stylists love Prada; there are always several great styling details to steal from her shows. For menswear it was all about the wrap-belted suit with chunky-soled shoes, a look even better executed on a girl with a bustier added to the mix. And the handknit sweaters (top) were full of nostalgic 80s psychobilly charm for me – complete with pinned-on knitted heart brooch.
Hedi Slimane gets a lot of hate but even if he lacks originality, you can’t fault his cuts. At his first menswear show for Celine, he riffed off mod and beatnik culture with precision-cut cropped pants, biker jackets and signature Kensington Market eyewear. His menswear at Saint Laurent was incredible for guys who want cool wardrobe building blocks and I imagine he’ll bring that customer here. (In fact, the menswear is designed to be unisex so that’s a win for garconnes like me too!) Yes, Zara may have similar silhouettes but it won’t have the longevity of quality fabrics and construction.
WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Credits to come
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