Degrees of Fashion Separation

IMG_5370 (1) New York Men’s Fashion Week has come and gone for the Fall/Winter 2016 Season. Starting on February 1st and ending on February 4th designers presented men’s collections from the world over. Held throughout multiple locations in Manhattan the shows consisted of presentations and runway. The event, sponsored in large part by Cadillac, came after snow storm Jonas passed. Designers from countries such as Korea, Spain, and the America’s came out to show their latest creative efforts in addressing men’s style. Because men’s style, as a whole, needs addressing; and, apparently, addressing it in an overly-exaggerated, futuristic, sheep-herder-Amish inspired manner was the trend-du jour of the week.

If geometry had a voice, apart from that of Donald Duck in Mathmagicland, it would no doubt be heard loud and extremely loud throughout the week with new designers and collections everywhere. This isn’t to say that geometric designs aren’t current, contemporary, and challenging; they are. However, geometric styling i.e. clothes that abide by angular standards certainly aren’t anything other than a trend, a very unnecessary, arduous, and needless trend. More to the point, creating an outfit that has ninety degree angles for shoulders, tunic style shirts hemmed slightly below any reasonable length, and square patterns on a t-shirt does not fashion make and goes against basic fashion principles, in case anyone has forgotten those are emphasis, balance, proportion, and unity. Instead, what it makes for is a very unnecessary fashion show; fifteen minutes longer than necessary, to be exact. Designing for men is very challenging, I know this from experience. Men are masculine, as a form, they are bulky yet have shape. Most importantly, men are not shaped as if they were boxes, or walking squares. Men have chests, they have shoulders, arms, legs, and glutes. These are things that, in my opinion, new designers have forgotten and instead have thrown-out the challenges of designing for men and have instead traded the basic foundational principles for trends; poorly executed trends. Many of the shows during the week displayed collections that minimized the masculine and maximized the flow of the clothes; as in, the type of flow most women’s collections tend to embody. Men’s fashion is not wearing a floral blouse with empire waist pants. Furthermore, many of the new designers and new designs, knowingly or otherwise, bled together and locating significant stylistic differences between the various designers, and collections, was difficult.

However, not all designers were guilty of the pedestrian. Designs from the likes of Joseph Abboud, CADET, John Varvatos, and Greg Lauren were the clear front runners of the week. The top shows brought forward trimmed jackets, tailored sleeves and shoulders. Many of the concepts presented by the more seasoned fashion houses utilized minimalist and streamlined jackets, shirts, and lapels, all fitted and structured to accentuate the masculine thereby differentiating the style and design from the women’s collections they will be presenting during IMG’s New York Fashion Week in the week to follow. These collections has a flow, they had a balance, and they were in proportion with the men, and man, that the clothes were designer for. The successful designers took into account contemporary fabrics and patterns without seeking to be part of the futuristic and geometrical trend du jour. Joseph Abboud, for example, presented three piece layered wool suits styled in European fashion, that is to say the clothes fit the model. Billy Reid paired roomy overcoats with properly cropped pants and fitted waists. Greg Lauren, of Ralph Lauren lineage, masterfully combined form fitting style with an almost industrial-type rugged-safari presentation with a form reminiscent of the designs of his father whilst maintaining the original and fresh outlook that has quickly become synonymous with the brand of Greg Lauren; thereby, maintaining a balance between his lineage and simultaneously emphasizing his creative style. The successful designers demonstrated that presenting an original collection and staying true to their identity without following trends, which bordered on the absurd, and instead pushing the boundaries of style and fashion is possible.

A successful designer will draw inspiration from who they are and what is around them, their imagination makes this possible. However, a successful designer also knows how to shape, hone, adapt, and interpret those inspirations into fashion as opposed to simply creating them into a perceived trend-based reality. Designers for fashion houses such as Alexander McQueen, CADET, Jeffrey Rudes, and John Varvatos, animal heads excluded, have mastered combining the geometric with the tailored. Claiming originality in design is not permission for absurdity. Supposedly pushing limits by utilizing the absurd, specifically the ill-defined trendy-absurd isn’t fashion, it’s simply mimicry in lieu of the creative.  Alexander McQueen said it best “Menswear is about subtlety. It’s about good style and good taste.”

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