New York fashion week is underway and amidst all the big-guns productions the final menswear shows of the fashion year (and what those attending them are wearing) confirm the trends for next summer.
New York fashion week is largely dominated by womenswear but there are menswear shows in the schedule too and New York retains a small but well formed core of talented young designers showing progressive men’s fashion. In addition, trends have had soak time and as the last big showcase of menswear in the annual calendar what editors and buyers are wearing to the shows this week is a good indication of what everyone else will want to be wearing next spring/summer (it’s also most likely what will be the shops).
1. New York menswear designers are doing really well at designing womenswear too. CFDA menswear designers of the year Public School stepped up to the mark yesterday showing womenswear alongside the menswear to a packed house including no less of a scary headmistress than Anna Wintour herself, proving their monochrome, impeccably tailored streetwear has appeal for both men and women. Signature layering and panels of contrasting fabric echoed the precision of sneaker design. In a similar vein, Tim Coppens also presented menswear and womenswear side-by-side last night and while the approach to materials and print were common the designs were carefully constructed with male and female form in mind rather than being unisex.
2. Minimal white trainers are de rigeur. As dictated by fashion editors, the Stan Smith (preferably the Raf Simons version), is the shoe of choice this week but credit must also be due to locals Common Projects whose classic white low top sneaker is also very visible. The New York brand also collaborated with Robert Geller and Tim Coppens producing shoes for their runway shows. As sports brands load up the layers of spongy foam and garish colour the alternative is simpler, low top and remarkably for a training shoe, looks better as it ages.
3. Ian Brown holds a spectral presence over New York. Duckie Brown showed bucket hats on Thursday (actually inspired by the day-to-day uniform of designer Daniel Silver’s 91-year old father) but shown alongside sporty bombers and cagoules and with a looped edit of Fool’s Gold as the soundtrack, the look was reminiscent of Manchester’s indie dance heyday. Remarkably, Brown also inspired a print at Tim Coppens demonstrating that the 90s revival isn’t just a British thing but demonstrates a more widespread interest in celebrating laddish tribal uniforms and the obsessiveness of British youth trends.
4. Almost nowhere does spectacle like New York. From Gareth Pugh’s video screen Stonehenge/contemporary dance event (attended by the likes of SJP and Maggie Gylenhaal and um, me) to Opening Ceremony’s Spike Jonze-directed one-act play and Hood by Air’s show where models appeared bound into perspex stocks and a huge dog stalked the runway, New York has shrugged off the straight up fashion show this season. My personal favourite though was <a href=”http://www.sharpenedlead.com/?p=4967″>N.Hoolywood</a>’s rooftop menswear show where the Japanese designer showed his latest menswear collection (inspired by vivid exotic insects) in the open air against a moody Gotham City sky awaiting only the symbol of the bat to appear.
5. The future is black and white. Public School and Hood by Air, who used a limited colour palette to focus on detail and form, pushed the starkest of fashion contrasts to excess. This seems perfectly natural in New York where a white T-shirt, a perfect pair of black jeans and battered Vans, can still define street style. There are no shades of grey allowed.
6. Sportswear is still where it’s at for next summer. With even the starchiest, suit-wearing of editors wearing sneakers with their whistles and with sports mesh, latex and other tech fabrics being celebrated across menswear shows from Tim Coppens, to Hood by Air, Public School and N. Hoolywood, the emphasis is on practicality for urban living. N,Hoolywood designer Daisuke Obana went so far as to say he was presenting clothes he wants to wear himself in the city, the shapes in his usually history-referencing collection were simple and functional focusing on colour and detail.
7. New York loves a concept. From Robert Geller’s pondering of the meaning of modern, to N.Hoolywood’s veneration of natural forms and the vivid colours of insect life in his native Japan to Thaddeus Neil’s romantic presentation of surfers as ‘hobos of the sea’ (3D glasses were supplied), in art-loving New York big ideas find a willing audience.
It’s impossible to talk about the N.Hoolywood show on Friday here in New York without mentioning the incredible location: the show took place on a rooftop in the Garment District opposite the iconic New Yorker building and the Empire State building and with the kind of dramatic sky dreamt of by Hollywood art directors. This setting impressed even the resident fashion crowd and created a sense of awe from the outset. Recent N.Hoolywood collections have focused on specific time periods and iconography in American history; the Western, the prohibition era, but this time designer Daisuke Obana took inspiration from his native Japan, and the unique natural environment there, specifically exotic insect life. Loud birdsong piped through the speakers set the tone for this nature-inspired theme, emphasising that we were in fact open to the elements even in the midst of ultra urban Manhattan. You might have thought that camouflage has been seen in every permutation in recent years, but Obana presented his own version in digitised prints, at once evoking the natural forms that man-made camouflage is meant to emulate and the modern processes that create it. Vivid colours appeared on T-shirts and in bright separates such as a rain macs and shorts, the carapaces of exotic insect life evoked through embroidery. Shapes were simple streetwear with emphasis on practicality for urban living; shorts, T-shirts, lightweight rainwear and pullovers. Obana has said that he wanted this collection to be clothes he himself would want to wear and the wearability of the pieces was immediately evident reflecting the pared back dress code of this knowing, savvy New York fashion crowd.
I had a brief audience with Mr Obana after the show and through his translator managed to find out a bit more about how the collection and the extraordinary presentation came about.
SL: How did you find this incredible space?
DO: I first saw this place three years ago but I had no idea you could rent it. In July this year I was walking past and enquired and was told it was available for hire.
SL: Your recent collections have been focused on American history – the Wild West, Prohibition etc, how come you turned to Japan for this collection?
DO: I was inspired by nature and specifically insects during my trips around Japan. Then I went to Seattle to see the work of an artist who is inspired by insects. I don’t remember the name… [note from editor: possibly Walter Scheirer's "Abstracts in Insects"?]. I specifically didn’t want to do anything that was based around a specific time era like using only fabrics from the 1920s this time.
SL: Do such bright insects really exist in Japan?
DO: Yes! There are such insects which only exist in Japan, and also other insects which only exist in the United States.
SL: How did you go about casting the models for the show today? They all seemed like very ordinary boys and not the usual model types?
DO: By street casting young men here in New York.
SL: All street cast or are some full time models?
DO: No, all street cast.
SL: Why did you decide to use embroidery on some of the pieces?
DO: I wanted to create a texture that is similar to the insects themselves.
SL. What does New York mean to you?
DO: It’s the place to challenge yourself, to try to be a winner.
SL: How does it compare to Tokyo as a place to work?
DO: Here reviewers are very individual, they compare their own thoughts with your ideas, it’s very interesting. In Japan people tend to all ask the same questions, say the same thing [acts out sycophantic applause].
On Thursday in New York Duckie Brown showed a collection of crisp whites, plaids and high-waisted trousers accessorised with bucket hats; a spin on elder style made relevant through the choice of fabrics and colour.
As ever with the Duckies, the invite held a clue, this time featuring an image of designer Daniel Silver’s father, now 91, in bucket hat, a tucked-in short sleeved shirt and the kind of high-waisted trousers men of a certain age and ilk wear. What couldn’t have been predicted was the precision with which the details of this specific look would be recreated; in the shape of the trousers, high up on the waist, roomy in the middle but tapering towards the ankle, the crisp outline of the short-sleeved shirts and, yes, bucket hats.
Whereas last season Steven and Daniel mixed things up, showing womenswear alongside the menswear with astute awareness of the unisex zeitgeist, this time womenswear was confined to a discreet lookbook and the boys took centre stage again.
Styling–wise the hair was softer than at recent Duckie shows and while there were still the occasional thousand-yard there was less laddish swagger from the models, with more of a bounce to the step as a looped and extended version of The Stone Roses’ Fool’s Gold kept the pace upbeat.
This particular influence was perhaps less resonant to an American audience; the associations with late ‘80s Manchester; the layered, Ian Brown-esque hair, and the bucket hats, blousons and cagoules referencing a very specific tribe whose casual uniform defined an era in British music and nightlife history.
One gets the impression with Duckie Brown that eventually they will have unpicked all the standards of menswear, forgotten or otherwise, whether they be uniform, workwear or tailoring staple and re-created them to suit their personal vision. Here the generations were overlapped by mixing up the associations of late 80’s Manchester and the fastidious dress codes of an elderly man.
The looks formed a very coherent collection – when the boys came out to do their final walkthrough the looks held strong; soft summer colours and shapes familiar but refreshingly simple.
This collection laid bare the craft in Duckie Brown’s work; it’s always been about form, proportion and tailoring but on Thursday the shapes were more straightforward with fewer visual puns to take note of; the shape of the trousers was beautifully considered, shirt sleeves fitting just so.
As with the choice of soundtrack – Fool’s Gold re-engineered and looped – the Duckies took familiar shapes and repositioned them, with reverence but never purely for the sake of re-creation.
Do you find that shirts you buy often don’t fit in exactly the same way: sleeves are a bit long, extra fabric balloons around your waist or it fits perfectly everywhere but is impossible to do up the top button? Let’s face it, we’re all made differently and ready to wear clothing will either work for you or not. Chances are if you find a brand and cut of shirt that fits you you’ll stick to it. This used to mean Rugby Ralph Lauren’s Oxford Shirts for me, which I discovered fitted me perfectly (alas the sub-brand is no more). But I’ve also bought shirts knowing that they weren’t a perfect fit and had them re-tailored. Going a step further and having a shirt personally tailored to my specifications was a new step (aside from a few half-successful efforts while backpacking in Asia) for me. Personally tailored shirts manufactured here in the UK is a service being offered by Ede & Ravenscroft, London’s oldest tailor no less, so I decided to try them out.
Stepping into the wood-paneled interior of the Ede & Ravenscroft store on Chancery Lane with it’s air of establishment exclusivity (they also produce gowns for universities and wigs for the legal profession) I felt a tad out of place in my Raf Simons trainers but the team on the sales floor were so welcoming that I was soon caught up in the excitement of making choices for my shirt. And anyway with a bit more research I discover that Ede & Ravenscroft are a brand bringing the heritage of their brand up to speed with in-house designer Michael McGrath; SS15 features soft pastels, languid botanical prints and their LC:M presentation was styled by David St John-James, the Fashion Director of Port Magazine.
Back to my shirt: presented with an array of cotton options including poplin, fine 120′s, twill, Oxford and Sea Island I chose a luxurious Italian-produced cotton with a herringbone weave in a silvery grey. Real mother of pearl buttons, cuffs with rounded corners, a collar to suit my preference of (usually) not wearing a tie and a subtle monogram detail on the gusset, completed my choices, having been expertly guided through my personal consultation by specialist advisor Roy. A couple of refits later (I rather think I terrorised Roy with my insistence on making the shirt slimmer each time) and my shirt is a perfect fit and a pleasure to wear.
So what’s my reaction? Having a shirt personally tailored is definitely worth it if you’ve yet to discover the brand that fits you best. Even if you’ve had this good fortune, the freedom of choosing fabric, cuffs, buttons and collars might persuade you to invest in something made to your exact specifications for a special occasion or just for the sheer pleasure of having something that’s unique to you.
Having firmly re-established itself the biker jacket is still around this season and in its best incarnations is being pared back to the essentials of its rebellious roots. Perhaps more than any fashion item since blue jeans, the functional origins of the biker have been usurped by its countercultural resonance as a symbol of rebellious attitude. After all, Joey Ramone didn’t shrug on his trusty leather biker out of concern about protection: it was a statement of intent. Having been given a fashion spin in endless fabric variations in recent seasons including contrast sleeves, the freshest looking biker jackets right now involve premium black leather, sturdy, heavy-weight zips and the classic shape without any fuss. Which is exactly what this collaboration between Swedish label CMMN SWDN and iconic Copenhagen store Storm delivers in this limited edition jacket. On the outside, the design lets the high grain leather, minimal styling and impressive hardware do the talking which leaves only the lining to raise the volume. Available at Storm now.
This morning Opening Ceremony’s latest outpost opened it’s doors at the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch. British designer Max Lamb has transformed the diminutive shop space, lining the walls in ivory latex, the sinuous folds emphasising the height of the interior, and furnishing the boutique with floating blue metal rails and a centerpiece table hewn from natural rock. This painterly colour scheme offsets Opening Ceremony’s current Surrealist-inspired collection perfectly, as Birkenstock clogs daubed with the work of Rene Magritte sit prettily on a block of rough polystyrene, itself sealed with a rubbery, peachy-coloured paint. There is an obvious visual synergy between Max Lamb’s work here and Opening Ceremony’s love of the unexpected, the purely playful and their mutual desire to create something unique. With collections touching on some of London’s most exciting new talent like Marques Almeida and Nicomede Talavera, the Opening Ceremony team aren’t just tapping the pulse of the city here, its more a case of full on acupressure and this permanent, multi-brand space is way beyond the notion of pop-up.
Opening Ceremony’s Shoreditch is located at 106 Shoreditch High Street, and is open 12-7pm daily.
All images below are by Jamie McGregor Smith except the final which is my own.