Friday, October 07, 2005

Best Collections of the Past Few Years, Part 2 – Menswear

Ahh, yes – in case you haven’t figured out yet, I am a man. I think men’s fashion, especially in the US, is in a dire state – there seem to be three camps, the straight men that behave and dress like apes, the gay men that dress too femininely, and lately the metrosexuals (forgive the term, please, I hate it myself) who are just male versions of trend whores (of course I'm being stereotypical here, but that is to save space and time, and not out of wantonnes). Men’s fashion that is edgy, masculine, serious, yet beautiful, unique and exceptionally made is still a rare event, but it does exist. So, lo and behold, here are some of the most remarkable menswear collections I’ve come across. Some of these pieces I own, but that’s a topic for another blog entry…

Raf Simons – Fall/Winter 1999

Raf Simons is a master, and his mastery is twofold.
The side of his mastery that he is known for is his ability to capture the Zeitgeist of the lost, disenchanted, alienated youth.
This is a sociological and cultural problem, and to reflect a problem of this type through a creative medium is to be an artist.
Which is just what Raf is.
Yet, the other side of his mastery is much lesser known.
It is his technical skills that make him one of the best menswear designers around. The precision in the way he can cut a coat or a suit has often been termed “laser.” This collection reflects his skills best.

Raf Simons – Spring/Summer 2002

This collection solidified Raf’s status as a socio-cultural critique. Despite the obvious Middle Eastern connotations that the models wore (which I personally think were not meant to reflect on the Arabic youth, but on the image of a youth rebel in general) at the show that took place just months before 9/11, the clothes themselves are full of striking visual imagery of anger and anxiety. The collection was exquisitely cut – most garments are roomy without being baggy, and Raf’s juxtaposition of luxurious fabrics with gritty images… could mean anything from straight irony to the invitation of the more mature (and richer) public to reflect on where they themselves were in life 10 years ago.

Dior Homme – Fall/Winter 2003

Hedi Slimane’s best collection ever. I personally got to look at a lot of it, and Hedi displayed a real talent there, which he since to seem have been buried in Pete Doherty’s @#$, and his own quasi-celebrity life. But this one was done when Hedi still remembered that he is first and foremost a designer. The complexity of some garments, the attention to detail, and the exquisite quality of the fabrics of this collection (named Luster) are absolutely awe-inspiring.

Ann Demeulemeester – Fall/Winter 2004

I keep coming back to this collection, I know. But, I can’t help it – it’s perfect. The menswear part of it bore a strong equestrian theme, with tall riding boots, exquisite paper thin leather jackets layered under wool blazers, and a beautiful color palette. Strong, masculine, yet romantic.

Cloak – Fall/Winter 2004

Finally, a real menswear talent out of the US!!! Well, out of Russia, technically, which makes me proud doubly, because just like myself, Alexander Plokhov is a Russian émigré living in New York. His talent is undeniable, and this collection was his best to date. It was dark and military. The attention to detail, from antique military buttons to unfolding high collars, was top notch. The heavy duty wools and cottons added more edge – and the cuts were slim and flattering. Perfect collection all around.

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