Attention armchair athletes, now is your time to shine. While actual sports activities, such as mountaineering and skiing, have served as the driving force behind fashion collections in recent years, Spring/Summer 2018 (SS18) sees designers taking a more general approach. As Bottega Veneta creative director Tomas Maier summed up for his men’s collection, which includes blouson jackets and track pants-style trousers accented with a lengthwise stripe: “There’s no tailoring. It’s all very sportswear and soft, but nothing designed for a workout.”
Exhale, and relax: These are not clothes made for the gym, but for real life in 2018. For his debut Ermenegildo Zegna Couture collection, for instance, artistic director Alessandro Sartori focused on the “purposeful merging of outdoor life with indoors”, which translated to items such as track pants-like bottoms made from lightweight silk. The sport of life even inspired Hermes’ Veronique Nichanian – usually the mistress of subtle surprises – to go flashier than usual, with drawstring trousers and hooded jackets in Toilbright, a vibrantly coloured, water-repellent material patented by Hermes. You’ll want to get moving, if only just to show off these pieces.
With fashion heavyweights such as Bottega Veneta’s Tomas Maier doing new menswear collections devoid of suits, it’s interesting to contemplate the suit’s place in fashion as the world moves forward. This season, designers further the notion of the suit as casual/off-duty uniform with new styles spanning the colour spectrum.
There were several styles in soft pastel shades – another major Spring trend. Lightweight lilac versions were spotted at Loewe and Salvatore Ferragamo, although one of our favourite takes on the look was a light-blue double-breasted number done by Stella McCartney. Since debuting her menswear line in late 2016, the Savile Row-trained English designer has proven to be just as adept in masculine style as she is in feminine fashion.
Never short of glamour, Dolce & Gabbana offered a suitably glitzy take on the coloured suit, sending jewel- toned ensembles down a runway featuring many Instagram stars and celebrity scions.
If this trend is anything to go by, many designers must have hit resort islands for their last vacations. How else to explain the plethora of cheerful Hawaiian-style shirts in the SS18 collections? Louis Vuitton men’s artistic director, Kim Jones, who recently presented his final collection for the French luxury brand, was inspired by specific islands as well as island-hopping – “of moving from place to place, and experiencing these different pockets of civilisation and identities simultaneously”. Jones’ luxe Hawaiian shirts certainly united disparate elements: Large blooms – some real, some imagined – were printed on tops that were overlaid with organza for a fluid effect. Fans of Blue Hawaii-era Elvis Presley might disagree, but we don’t think we’ve ever seen such tops look this high-fashion.
But not all designers had island vacations on the brain. Paul Smith looked back on his memories when creating pieces such as shirts bedecked with hibiscus and corals; in the 1970s, the English designer used to buy “trunks of Hawaiian shirts” from Soho in New York City, which he would sell back home in Nottingham. These shirts would later inspire his signature floral prints. This season, every man would do well to be an island, metaphorically speaking.
ART OF THE MATTER
Art influencing fashion might not be new – for instance, Yves Saint Laurent counted Dutch avant-garde painter Piet Mondrian among his inspirations, and Rodarte’s designs often reference Impressionist artists’ works. What sets this season’s art-inspired styles apart is how rooted they are in the everyday. Prada’s fashion-show space and clothing were decked out in comic-style illustrations created by artists James Jean and Olivier Schrauwen. Instead of superhero themes, the art belonged to the category that graphic- novel fans will recognise as “slice of life”. The panels at Prada showed everyday images – a man staring off into the distance, a moving train, a cup of coffee.
A cup of coffee – that great elixir of modern life – was among the seemingly mundane items illustrated by artist Sue Tilley, a cult figure on the British art scene. Tilley’s depictions of items such as a desk lamp, banana peel and leaky taps add a kitschy touch to Fendi’s latest jackets and knits, as well as bags and belts. And at Lanvin, menswear chief Lucas Ossendrijver celebrated the Everyman (and Everywoman) with shirts that feature printed portraits of anonymous people, painted by an artist in Montmartre.
ON THE RISE
Whether you want to call it normcore or dadcore, the next big movement in fashion is exactly the kind of thing that baffles regular folks who just want their clothing to, you know, make them look good. Popularised by influential Eastern Bloc designers such as Demna Gvasalia (the creative head of Balenciaga and Vetements, who hails from former Soviet republic Georgia) and Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy, current normcore style tends towards an ironic take on 1990s-style everyday dressing. Think yobbish youths in tees with sportswear-brand logos and tracksuits, or older men in mid-wash jeans and too-large shirts.
In recent seasons, waistbands have risen along with a taste for nerdy-normal styles. From Fendi to Ferragamo, and Marni to Stella McCartney, high-waisted trousers will be preventing men from letting it – and by it, we mean pot bellies – all hang out for the season to come. All kidding aside, a mid-rise (lower than those shown at Balenciaga and Kenzo, but slightly higher than many men generally favour) can give trousers a more streamlined and flattering look. Try it the next time you hit your tailor’s.