New York Fashion Week Men’s is always a difficult beast to discuss; full of a slurry of different designers, small and large, many of whom attempt to capitalize on New York’s workwear and streetwear hype to gain momentum for their sometimes indistinguishable collections. It would be difficult to discuss the collections without mentioning the decision to combine both Men’s and Women’s into one week; a fitting segue from our own Sarah Ann Murray’s concern that without enough big names, London Men’s legitimacy would reduce to the point where a merger with London Women’s would be necessary to save face.
But, although a merger may very well spell the end of London Men’s, the merger in New York has only highlighted the cities mood and its importance as a very unique, global fashion capital. New York after all, is the birth of semi-androgynous and adventurous streetwear brands like LPD, 10.Deep, Saturdays Surf NYC, Supreme, and Kith, and one can see why. With heavy influences ranging from contemporary hip hop to the Art Deco murals of Thomas Hart Benton, workwear and casual styles with a creative twist have always dominated the scene.
Digressions aside, however, this year’s collections were impressive. From Death to Tennis and Theory, to Raf Simons or Tom Ford, the runaways were bright, moody, creatively inspired, and occasionally provocative. Between the crazy patterns and oversaturated colors, a few strokes of genius shone through, making this series of New York collections especially good.
Mr. Ford shook the scene with perhaps the most hyped show this season; his first real debut on the men’s runway under his own name. His premiere was a vibrant collection full of animal prints, leather and fur, a healthy dose of 70’s nostalgia, and in classic Tom Ford fashion, a display of luxurious underwear reminiscent of his porno-chic days at Gucci and YSL. The collection took a different route from what some expected, focusing more on his growing sportswear line than the refined tailoring that used to dominate his collections.
Luxurious cashmere hoodies under puffy jackets with fur collars and fitted sweatpants showed his ability to blur the lines between the growing athleisure/streetwear segment with men’s tailoring. Although many of us will probably never wear his craziest of designs, we can continue to keep our eyes peeled on the runway, where we will undoubtedly see an ever younger crowd of celebrities sporting his more adventurous takes on eveningwear, (like his head latest turning shiny, all-pink, single-breasted slim-cut suit) mixed in with his usual classic clientele of Messers Colin Firth, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Continuing with the street-ready collections, Ingo Wilts designed a collection evocative of the true spirit of contemporary new york. Full of muted greys, blues, and blacks, he combined Boss’ roots in boardroom ready suits for the 80’s power broker, with a smart take on what he calls “sports tailoring.” Slightly less adventurous but more streetwear than Tom Ford, the message was strong. Wilt’s sees a new future for Boss, appealing to a younger generation and a different audience. Extra Large puffy, down filled jackets, oversized double breasted overcoats with massive lapels, and huge patterned ponchos looked luxurious and freeing, resting gracefully atop oversized roll neck sweaters, chunky shoes, and baggy flat front trousers. Overall a covetable and comfortable collection many would dream of wearing.
Of all the collections which embody the eclectic and beautiful variety of New Yorkers, Bottega Veneta comes the closest to perfection. In the midst of a NYFW identity crisis, with designers jumping ship for Paris or abandoning the standard season schedule all together, Tomas Maier remains a grounding force. Devoted to craft, Maiers creations for this latest collection were powerful, intricate, and elaborate.
The collection also presented itself at a crucial time for Bottega Veneta, being the first collection shown by the house for their upcoming NYC flagship store. Combining the mens and womens collections into one show, House BV displayed a collection that truly embodied the spirit of New York. Crazy patterns, shimmering fabrics, bright pastels, and patchwork of all shapes and sizes demonstrated Maiers inherent ability to just border on the surreal, just teetering on the edge of what could be a fashion disaster, but looking altogether effortless and genius.
Snyder has always been, in my view, a more louche, and slightly less eccentric version of Tom Ford. Some may disagree with this notion, but when comparing the two collections, one can see the similarities immediately. This season, Snyder alluded heavily to the growing sportswear segment of the American menswear audience, displaying oversized flannels, bold patterns in muted colors, and lots of velvet. Cropped, low crotched, double pleated trousers in muted colors played elegantly with tucked, thin gauge sweaters, black ties, and suede sneakers; all running parallel to suits in patterns one could only imagine someone wearing on the runway. Overall, not as wild as Tom Ford, but just wild enough to captivate audiences and remind many of classic, 80’s high school movies. If Snyder was aiming for aesthete-meets-athlete, he pulled it off perfectly.
Industry veteran and New York native Kors delivered an astonishing collection this season, but one that was difficult to distinguish from the larger mass of what was on display. Like others, he showed bold patterns, and bright pastels, with a little bit of everything mixed in. Somehow, the collection seemed out of line, perhaps a little too far, inspired but simultaneously uninspired. Boyish pairings of Argyle, pajama silk, and plaid filled the runway on both men and women. Kors attempted what many have tried, and he hasn’t succeeded. There is no way to be everything to everyone. Perhaps the best part of the show were not the clothes, but the diversity of models walking; of old faces and new, of all bodies and races. A true homage to what fashion has needed for decades.
Over the last decade, Suitsupply has become a veritable force in menswear for its affordability, quality, unique business model, and ubiquitous popularity among young professional men (and now women) living in America’s most vibrant cities. Perhaps one of my favorite brands, simply because it was my beacon into well made menswear, Suitsupply presented at New York Men’s for the first time this season, and what a presentation it was.
Although they did not stray far from their roots, the collection was a grounding force among crazy patterns, loose fitting garments, and shows which leaned more towards creative inspiration than practical, wearable clothing. The collection they presented was clean, beautiful, and colorful, playing towards their target audience of young men who want to look comfortable both in the office and outside the Fortezza da Basso. A louche and practical luxury, wearable fashion at its finest.
This year marks the designers 20th anniversary, and his latest collection reflects just that. Reaching deep into his archives, Reid managed to pull together a cohesive and inspired collection of workwear and smart casual clothing for the young, freelancing New Yorker. The pieces all had that familiar Billy Reid aesthetic. A case study in texture, it featured cashmere suits with generously cut trousers, thick denim overshirts, rich knits, and deep patterns. In my opinion, one of the most beautiful collections shown this season.
Of all the designers in the world, Raf Simons possesses a genius perhaps only matched by Dries van Noten. Each collection somehow manages to top the last, taking root in art, culture, and the deeper messages behind philosophy, life, and the human experience. Granted, none of this is classic menswear but Raf always deserves a notable mention in any fashion week review. This seasons collection was inspired by the world of Christiane F., a real-life heroin junkie and artist in late 1970s Berlin; a striking young woman with dyed red hair, and a models emaciated figure.
Perhaps the collection gave a deeper commentary on the two sided nature of drugs; the glamour of the self destructive artist seeking escape from the binding constraints of his own creativity, and the chaos of addiction, relapse, and dependency. A poignant and timely theme for a nation grappling with the chaos of its own opioid epidemic which claims thousands of lives every year. Although the collection may not really open a dialogue about addiction, it remains a powerful display of Raf’s creativity, and its absurdist sartorialism and spectacle will leave his fans, as always, in need of their next fix.
article by Michael Mossessian
photography courtesy of Vogue