As the realm of menswear – along with the world around us – grows and changes, traditional boundaries have also become more fluid. For spring/summer 2015, designers explore the concepts of masculinity versus femininity, formal dressing and casual codes. Style has a broader definition than ever, and looks all the better for it.
White requires dedication to wear. It calls for an abstinence from certain foods (spaghetti bolognaise looks great on a plate but is less fetching on a lapel). Unlike black, it’s a lot more unkind to less toned physiques. So, really, what better shade is there for the style-aware to show that they mean business as new seasonal designs arrive in stores?
It’s probably no coincidence that the stark neutral was the foundation for key looks at Alexander McQueen, where creative director Sarah Burton created pieces that broke away from the nostalgia of her last collection.
Elsewhere, white showed its sophisticated versatility. It emphasised the clean lines of a formal double-breasted suit on the Louis Vuitton spring/summer runway, lent a light air to the relaxed summer suits at Giorgio Armani and Gucci, and gave a crisp edge to Givenchy’s streetwear-meets-Savile Row separates. For those who seek to conceal nothing, white is the season’s colour of choice. Just watch the gravy.
A wardrobe workhorse since it was first used in utilitarian workwear in the 17th century, denim hits a sartorial high note this season. Best known for dressy designs characterised by European sensibilities, Tom Ford took his eponymous brand in a new direction with looks revolving around denim – a fabric inextricably intertwined with Americana.
Showcasing the fabric’s ability to rise to most occasions, Ford’s jeans were paired with separates ranging from fringed suede jackets to a silk tuxedo jacket. In the surest sign that the “Canadian tuxedo” – a disparaging term used to describe all-denim outfits – is no longer a fashion faux pas, he also paired his jeans with denim tops, a combination favoured, too, by designers such as Kris Van Assche at Dior Homme, and Humberto Leon and Carol Lim at Kenzo.
Denim also served as a medium for designers to play with the shifting boundaries between casual and formal dressing. Showcasing its mastery of denim and tailoring, Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label included a three-piece suit, hand-tailored to perfection from Japanese selvedge denim. At Prada, Miuccia Prada featured denim alongside dark blue wool jackets and trousers tailored to resemble jeanswear.
Let’s get this out of the way: A sharp, well-tailored suit will never go out of style. But if there’s one thing that the rapidly growing global menswear scene has shown over the past decade, it’s that a man does not need to buttress his sense of self with formidable shoulder pads.
A languorous, relaxed feel permeated houses that are well-known for their tailored suits. For his Ermenegildo Zegna Couture line, Stefano Pilati sent oversized coats and fluid, slightly tapered trousers down the runway. Pioneer of the power suit in the 1980s, Giorgio Armani also showed how far menswear has come with loose belted coats and lightweight, easy- wearing suits.
The new relaxed silhouettes also demonstrate the blurring lines between traditional concepts of masculine and feminine style. Symbols of strength and grace, dancers and dance served as the inspiration for the day-off looks by Bottega Veneta and Dries Van Noten. Totally on point.
Spring typically brings with it a fine selection of prints and, this year – as the unreserved gent will be pleased to know – is no exception. But for those who would like to update their wardrobes, yet hesitate to clad themselves in the sartorial equivalent of a flower garden or an imitation of a zebra’s hide, we would like to suggest instead the adoption of a bold stripe or two.
A classic menswear element, the line receives new life this season. Instead of a regular fine pinstripe, a top with thick, graphic stripes in contrasting colours instantly enlivens an otherwise sombre outfit. Take your pick: The season offers a choice of the vertical (Giorgio Armani), horizontal (Dior Homme), chevron (Paul Smith) and simple Vs or Xs (Louis Vuitton). At Hermes, menswear head Veronique Nichanian used clean lines and colour palettes to give knit cardigans a subtle, Art Deco feel. It all makes for a tasteful, unfussy way to show your sartorial stripes.
￼We’ve mentioned that white is a palette cleanser this spring. But fashion is no one-trick pony. Several of the spring/summer shows started off with looks in light shades of whites and creams, before traversing the colour wheel to end with highly saturated jewel tones. It’s a nod to the decadent days of disco, albeit in smaller doses, as compared to the full-blown ’70s influences dominating womenswear this season.
With colours this bright, designers seemed to be saying, why not simply go the whole hog? Berluti artistic director Alessandro Sartori, for one, proposed a suit in a vibrant shade of saffron, while Louis Vuitton’s Kim Jones – inspired by India – included a hot-pink jumpsuit in his collection. At Italian tailoring house Brioni, rich teals and purples were used to create striking suits, part of a collection inspired by ’50s film noir and present-day Los Angeles.
Aside from ensembles in a single intense shade, fearless colour combinations were also encouraged. Using hues reminiscent of his former days designing for Saint Laurent, Stefano Pilati paired pink and teal, and green and purple for looks that made for a flamboyant finale.