Dries Van Noten's invitation sported a real lipstick-kiss imprint, and the show opened to the strains of Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender. While it hasn't been difficult to catch Van Noten's love-bug of late, things are never that simple. So while Marilyn Monroe was the obvious inspiration this season, Van Noten challenged himself by imagining a fantastical scenario, a surreal encounter between the American screen goddess and Salvador Dalí.
An iconic black-and-white portrait of Monroe opened the show under a pink leopard printed coat, defiantly introducing our heroine. She reappeared throughout in all-over photo-prints, intarsia knits, and appliqué. Dalí was represented by red lobster beading and the use of the ordinary as extraordinary. Splashy prints — Hawaiians, florals, leopard, palms, paisleys, and checks — were pushed out and twisted, clashed and overlaid, and taken to a place where they came full circle, if off-kilter.
As ever, the soundtrack was a key element, with snippets from the actress's films and the voice of the artist, layered and mixed with Public Image Ltd's This Is Not a Love Song, the Sex Pistols’ Pretty Vacant, and The B-52s' Rock Lobster. Van Noten declared backstage that Dalí was a punk and his repetitive use of the Monroe prints became a subversive punk act, akin to Jamie Reid's Sex Pistols covers — which is surely how they will be seen by Van Noten's ever-increasing fan base. He closed with a burst of red and silver confetti to the sounds of Monroe’s I Wanna Be Loved By You, as if the answer was ever in doubt.
Maison Margiela is an interesting case study. Here is a cult fashion house whose elusive founder is retired, replaced by John Galliano, a designer with a glorious past and a maximalist aesthetic that seems at odds with the brand’s philosophy of deconstruction. To complicate matters, that philosophy is enjoying a revival at other labels, notably the much talked-about Vêtements.
Galliano made his return to ready-to-wear in March, and, as the spring collection shown today was conceived by a creative team, he has yet to make his mark on men's. The British designer’s input won't be visible before next year, according to a spokesperson for the house.
As the show was held in a rundown underground train depot, one expected some grit. Instead, the collection was rather uneventful, focusing on user-friendly clothes with a rock-and-roll undercurrent (studs on black jackets and boots). The trenchcoats and elongated tuxedo jackets looked well-cut and the artsy sleeveless tops and a pair of pants with an apron effect stood out. But it seemed like a warm-up while awaiting John Galliano.
It’s safe to say that Rick Owens’ shows have become the buzziest of our time. There was Zebra Katz, then the sorority performers, and those fleeting penises. But this time around, the buzz didn’t come from the maverick. Halfway through his spring 2016 men's show, one of his models, Jera, brandished a piece of fabric that read “Please Kill Angela Merkel Not,” with the Not part somewhat obscured. [Honoring the house's wishes, we have chosen not to run the image here.]
The model has walked the designer’s shows for many years, even wearing one of the body-revealing tunics that caused such an uproar last season, however no information is available about the his motivations. His agency, the Berlin-based Tomorrow Is Another Day, could not be reached for comment and his pictures could not be found on their website. Reportedly, Owens reacted backstage by punching Jera in the face.
Other than that, the show’s biggest novelty was a sort of tunnel hairdo — think pompadour gone wild — that made recognizing faces difficult, and should make kissing more so. The tunnel shape was a reference to cyclops, the mythological creature with a unique focal point, but it also served as a metaphor for the designer, a practitioner of creative tunnel vision. This is meant in a positive way. He’s an outstandingly focused, forward-looking provocateur, and this new line-up crystallized his obsession with military attire and draping.Read More
For his latest Louis Vuitton men's collection, veteran traveler Kim Jones visited remote Southeast Asia, leaving a trail of electrified silky prints on the runway.
A retro soundtrack, provided by legendary music producer Nile Rodgers, worked well with the pajama-inspired two-pieces and shiny leather trenches.
Who says boys can't wear tricked-out satin bombers? Not Jones, as his slick models were decked out in embroidered outerwear and satin monogram scarves, giving the collection the touch of sophistication that is synonymous with the French house.
The neighborhood of Raf Simons' spring show tonight — in the same venue as last season — is particularly un-Parisian. It sits in the banlieue of Ivry, half an hour outside of the city, with unfazed expressions from locals to match. The industrial space was bathed in red light beforehand, spilling across a labyrinthine raised catwalk, raising the question of how best to position oneself in front of blazing-hot light fittings.
Checked face coverings — by now an Instagram phenomenon — were the statement that opened the show, and continued throughout. They fell around the boys' faces like gang hoods, albeit plaid, coupled with gathered wide-leg rave pants and handpainted rivets, topped off with shrunken knits and chunky backpacks adorned with chunky plastic chains. These meshed nicely with an ingenious soundtrack peppered with samples from Mark Lecky's seminal 1999 art film ‘Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore' — putting us in very personal territory.
The masking, married with the sporadic music, caused two boys to tumble from the catwalk, adding to the underlying sense of danger, all while the sound system continued to whisper, "Halston, Fiorucci, Gucci..." This was Raf Simons in devilishly true form — daring and defiant, oozing confidence, and questioning the fashion system in exactly the ways we need.
It takes a second to mentally register the over-the-topness of a Walter Van Beirendonck show, and the spring collection was no different. Models sported flashy suits with Pokemon-esque 3D lapels, and if that didn’t throw you off guard, there were fluffy clouds, cartoon decals and superhero facepaint tossed in for good measure. Upon deciphering the code, however, it was clear there was a method to the beard-toting Belgian’s madness. Underneath the Candyland-colored prints, there was some damn good tailoring and brilliant design decisions. But as if to unburden the audience with those pesky details, Beirendonck struck awe with extra-wide-brimmed, feather-encrusted mountie hats — because a regular oversized mountie is just so Pharrell 2014.Read More
The shapes and styles of an Alexander McQueen men's collection don't change significantly season after season, which isn't to say a thematic overhaul doesn't take place. For spring 2016, held in the arches on Ewer Street, London, the much-anticipated new theme harked back to old-timey maritime adventure.
In a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy, intrepid creative director Sarah Burton reconnoitered the pre-satellite science of sea exploration, plunging the watery world not with trite Breton shirts but with bold gestures evocative of the dangers that lurk in the great unknown. She printed baggy two-piece suits and pajamas with colorful sea monsters, military decoration, compasses, and sailor tattoos. Details from windswept models to salt-washed denim set the course, but a taut knee-length, double-breasted jacket in royal blue completed the nautical journey.Read More
London men's designer Craig Green continues to turn menswear on its head. For spring 2016, he combined strappy astronaut suits, Asian-style draping and wrapping, and what looked to be burqa scaffolding, outsized in the front and bare in the back.
Curiously, he also tweaked the nipple area — traditionally a no-go zone for men — with knotted dots and long streams of fabric. A suggestive and strangely alluring focus.
The collection seemed to a rebuke of old tropes and taboos, exactly the sort of attitude London excels at, hinting at a future unconcerned with gender codes and geopolitics.