As the spring 2017 International catwalk circuit for women comes to a close, ShortList’s style director, Adrian Clark, raises the debate...
It’s widely understood, and accepted, that when it comes to the fashion industry, men are most definitely the weaker of the two sexes. It’s a female dominated world where the question of equal pay between male and female models is swiftly brushed under the carpet and if you look at fiscal revenues it is conclusively there in black and white that menswear (even if it has seen healthy growth) is most definitely still the poorer relation. But the winds of change are coming and while it is very doubtful menswear will ever be on a par with women’s wear in terms of economy, it is at least growing in impact and visibility.
Until recently designers showing their collections in New York, London, Milan and Paris would always hold their menswear shows In January and June, while the women’s shows would take place in March and September, without integration. That however is a dated concept as well as a costly exercise – a catwalk show can cost upwards of £100,000 to stage – and either as a money saving initiative (for some) or perhaps more interestingly as a statement in how their men’s collections now compliment and play-off their seasonal women’s wear offerings, many designers are choosing to send both boys and girls out onto the same stage. Of course there will be a teething period as designers question whether they should have one show presenting both men’s and women’s wear moving forward or keep them apart, and the jury is out on whether we will ever get to a point whereby there will only be one non-gender-specific fashion week per season in each city, but the fact that power-brands such as Burberry and Gucci have decided that a joint show is the way forward has at least kick-started a new era.
In retrospect of the spring 2017 women’s catwalks, which came to a close at the end of last week, these are our stellar and standout spring 2017 menswear ‘moments’ to make a cheeky cameo
Scotch & Soda
Showing its menswear alongside its women’s wear for the second consecutive season in New York, Amsterdam-based brand Scotch & Soda brought some of its European charm and romantic eclecticisms to the Big Apple. In a city that focuses on pared back minimalism to make its mark, Scotch & Soda stood out and sleighed it, both with its big production magical utopian landscape as a setting and its highly-desirable spring ’17 wardrobe must-haves that took detail from nature and cross cultural references. Entitled The World According to Heavenly Creatures, creative director Marlou van Engelen was inspired by illustrations dating back to 1590 by the Dutch astrologer and cartographer, Peter Plancius, materialised in an earthy and subdued colour palette for longer-length, wider shorts in metallic fabrications, three quarter length trousers with rope-tie waists, canvas sleeveless capes and shirts in either micro or maxi batik and floral prints.
Showing one of his best menswear collections to date, Wang not only mixed his menswear with his women’s wear in a show that managed to pull a heavy weight front-row including Madonna, he also showed his mainline eponymous range with the debut of his adidas collaborative line. The result was something very cool and organic, putting surf and skate inspired scuba separates with shirting stripe casual staples and pin-up prints that were inspired by pure Eighties ‘Sports Illustrated’ girly calendars.
Everything about Bottega Veneta says ‘luxury’, from the ease in cut of its suits, to the unique and precious fabrications of exotic leathers. With a slight Seventies edge, patchwork leather jackets were shown with wider pants, while two-piece tailoring in shades of putty and camomile pink were cut to flatter the body in liquid materials.
Christopher Bailey loves a historical reference. In his first London Fashion Week show to fuse menswear with women’s wear, the designer looked to the novel Orlando as inspiration. Using a palette of colours that were reminiscent of the faded velvets used for upholstery in forgotten country estates, mixed with silk pyjama prints and chintz brocades, he managed to retain a contemporary edge. Even the piecrust frills that decorated the collars of shirts that were taken from the pages of the Virginia Wolfe novel felt very ‘Now’ and will undoubtedly be copied in the mainstream.
“A tennis match on the rooftop of the villa Malparte” is how Lacoste’s Felipe Oliveira Baptista described his menswear offering shown during New York fashion week. The French brand looked to the iconic Capri based landmark for its inspiration both in its louche and relaxed silhouette, use of retro fabrics such as Terry towelling and pique, and its modernist colour palette of sun bleached neutrals combined with ochre. Retaining its sporty heritage, the collection moved forward with a more sophisticated edge, including oversized polo shirts and drawstring waist joggers approached in the same way ‘resort’ clothes with elegant charm would have been crafted in the Fifties.
Michael Kors’ collection notes, presented following his New York runway outing were, much like the brand’s ethos to fashion in general, no-fuss and to the point. ‘Graphic Geometric’, 'Hybrid Dressing’, ‘Urban Sportif’, 'Modernist Takes On Architectural Herringbone’; in essence a collection of uptown classics reworked with a very contemporary edge. Favourites included slogan knits and wide lapelled suits in pinstripe warn with monochrome shirts and ties in humbug stripes.
Showing as part of London Fashion Week, Donatella Versace’s younger line fused sporty attitude with luxurious application. A rebellious approach was taken for punk inspired leathers and futuristic sportswear that looked new in up-scaled fabrics such as iridescent silks and performance fabrics.
Peter Dundas’ second menswear collection working as Cavalli’s creative director, shown during Milan Fashion Week, put him firmly on the fashion map as a contender. Borrowing from the rich archive of Roberto’s boho hippy heritage, the line was pure rock ‘n’ roll with Northern African references. Shades of solarised orange, gold, faded pastels and chambray denim played to the Cavalli DNA of rich embellishment, but with a more relevant edge.
Never for the faint of heart, Jeremy Scott always injects fun and controversial playfulness into his eponymous label. For spring 2017, the Eighties were plundered for prints and logos, using a palette of primary colours. The edgy offering was considered in its reference points, entitled ‘Slime City’ and will have a major influence on menswear trends on the high street.
Alessandro Michele, the man steering Gucci into the future, can do no wrong when it comes to popular consensus among the fashion pack. Beating very much to his own drum, Michele takes romanticism and geek-chic to a new level, pairing vintage flocked prints with counter-culture iconography such as Donald Duck to make his modern and very covetable statements. While at first glance it would seem the ‘Anything goes’ eclecticism has no boundaries, but on further inspection there is a very ‘Thought out’ and precise curate to the mismatch.