New York men's fashion week bursting with colours of summer
The highlights from the first week New York has devoted to menswear in a very long time
New York Fashion Week has always celebrated the glamour of women's fashion, but has relegated menswear to a supporting role. Last week, building on a growing public appetite for men's fashion, the industry is putting on the first stand-alone men's fashion week in New York in nearly two decades (a brief attempt fizzled in the late 1990s). Here are some highlights of New York Fashion Week: Men's.
RAG & BONE
Designers Marcus Wainwright and David Neville of Rag & Bone want their customers to be free to move. To really, really move, like when you're doing running flip turns in the air, or climbing up the side of a building.
The duo took the inspiration for their menswear collection, presented Tuesday in a Chelsea gallery space, from parkour, an extreme sport that combines elements from martial arts, gymnastics and rock climbing. A film clip showed a group of extremely well-dressed young practitioners in Brooklyn, doing things most humans could never attempt.
Among the guests examining the clothes, sipping cocktails or munching on mini-burgers were Victor Cruz of the New York Giants and model-actor Tyson Beckford - both fashion week ambassadors.
Neville explained that movement and street style were both essential to the brand. "Key influences for us have always been this sort of marriage between tailoring, street, military - these are the themes that we've built the DNA of our brand on. Parkour, this urban kind of gymnastics, actually has roots in the military," he said.
The clothes on display - fitted not onto models, but onto structures that looked like life-sized hangers - were heavy on movable fabrics, as in featherweight nylons. Neville added that a stand-alone men's fashion week - the first in New York in 17 years, though they've been standard in Europe - was great for the industry, and especially for up-and-coming designers.
"I think it's great for the young New York men's designers," he said. "They have this platform to showcase what they're doing. Hopefully it puts an emerging spotlight on New York men's brands, and I think it's great that certain of the bigger men's brands have decided to come back and show in New York. There's a really good energy here around men's fashion."
For most designers, "uniformity" would hardly be a goal. But Thom Browne, both a great technician and a great showman, happily embraces the concept in his new collection of men's suits.
"Yes, we're celebrating uniformity," Browne said backstage at a Chelsea gallery, where his classic, cropped-leg suits were on display inside a mirrored cube that resembled an office, retro and futuristic at the same time. "The suit is every guy's uniform."
Observers were ushered slowly into the cube, actually a small room with mirrored floor, walls and ceiling. In the centre was a classic office desk, upon which sat an old-fashioned typewriter, a pair of scissors and a stapler - the "old school" office, Browne quipped. Everything was in bright, shiny silver, except of course for the models in their dark sunglasses and suits in various shades of grey, hems above the ankle in signature Browne style. It was a little like Mad Men meets Stanley Kubrick.
Browne explained this new collection - named "the officeman" - was also a celebration of his new role as tailor shop owner. Three months ago, he bought the Queens factory of his long-time master tailor Rocco Ciccarelli, bringing the operation in-house. He plans to move it to midtown Manhattan soon. Browne's famous suits will be made in New York, he notes, by the tailors he deems the best in the world.
Hot young brand Public School put its models in glass rooms for a series of jailhouse line-ups.
The spring-summer 2016 collection in the brand's signature palette of black, white, grey and navy was a mix of athletic details with crisp tailored trousers (short and long), lapelled jackets (sleeveless and not). Slouchier jackets and pullovers had windowpane detailing.
The solids were broken up by a few plaid shirts, and designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne showed off the brand's PS platform leather sneakers in black and white.
Chow said the theme included looks that evoked the brand's basic uniform but "in a backdrop where you might normally see something else, a group of people who have been contextualised and marginalised in this particular setting."
The affable Kors went old school, presenting each of 27 looks himself, salon-style, to intimate groups of fashion editors, buyers and media.
The goal: to outfit the Kors man for a quick island getaway. He departs in black - a crushed-cotton blazer, tank and loose single-pleated trouser - and changes upon arrival into all-white seersucker with the ease of cosy pyjamas.
Banter might as well be Kors' middle name. He did it well when presenting a cashmere pullover and long cardigan sweater.
Kors worked for spring 2016 in a range of Mediterranean blues, whites that included ecru and ivory, and a brown the colour of peanuts.
He was going for polish in unstructured casual, using linen and cotton blends, traditional pinstriping in unstructured silhouettes and accessories that included a reversible tote with suede on one side.
It's not just about the journey. It's about how you look while embarking on it. Tommy Hilfiger's collection was inspired by a stylish 1950s holiday, with a few modern twists for spring and summer looks of bright yellow, coral and teal.
Suits came with skinny pants and slightly cropped, tailored jackets. Some of the jackets were double-breasted, including one in blue with horizontal stripes with a sheen in cotton sateen. Another suit was made of blue denim.
A few patterns were inspired by Honolulu's architecture. Nautical notes came in Breton stripes on sweaters and crested buttons. And don't forget the outerwear: lightweight nylon macs and airfield styles.