Fashion week has come and gone, in a post-covid and war-torn world, and we still have the time to appreciate clothing and seek expression through the yards and yards of fabrics required. Some of the more notable changes in the shows include the amount of new brands and developing brands that were not as prevalent before 2020. Brands such as Ludovic de Saint Sernin, Courreges, Y/Project, and even Coperni, are climbing their way up to levels of hype seen only before for houses such as Yves Saint Laurent or Balenciaga.
Despite the changes occuring, one of the more troubling trends on the rise is a loss of quality and increase in margin. Brands with strong messages about morality and politics hide behind their tik-tok posts and instagram stories the fact that their quality is descending, and rapidly. As the consumer seems (from an external point of view) to be less and less interested with wearability, and more and more interested by the message or disruptive interpretation, brands have successfully navigated their way out of the covid-dip by creating low-cost production and high-price sales.
We decided in this review to not take into consideration the quality, fabrication, or ethical awarness of these shows / designers, as it seems pretty self-evident that we are dealing with pure fashion.
Here is what we are enjoying for next year.
Paris, January 26, 2022
Perhaps Dunhill is not "breaking bricks" as they say in French (a way of saying ground breaking) but the choice of fabrics, and contemporary interpretations of classics, is still worth noting. The current designer, Mark Weston, has mentioned in the past that is he is intrigued and motivated by the nobility of a fabric that can hold its' own, or even the engineering of garments. The tailoring was brilliant in this show, as it was at the same time youthful (cue in marketing execs) and yet observant of the glory passed. Visibly centered suits and coats, hidden buttons, billowing trousers, all came together in an elegant and softly powerful display. I was not fond of every look, as sometimes the feeling veered to overly-wanting-to-be-young, and the shoes left more to be desired (or perhaps less, due to their clunky oversized presence). The bags were also lacking and felt a bit flashy for nothing, but in general I was left with a smile. Dunhill is for sure to be worn by a smart modern man who has extremely refined taste, but refuses to be left in the sartorial heaps of "menswear".
Portugal, January 22, 2022
ERNEST W. BAKER
Ernest W. Baker is still an under-the-radar brand, but is becoming more and more known amongst a select fashion-pack. The clothing is edgy, and somehow seems to always be inspired by some kind of Stanley Kubrick film - and why not, there is, of course, nothing wrong with that. I like Ernest W. Baker for their styling and selection of colors. The designer duo Reid Baker & Ines Amorim, based in Portugal now, have been consistent with developing an image that is unique to them. Slick quilted leathers, vivid Portugese knits, sharp tailoring, and those reds! I look forward to seeing more from them in the future.
Milan, January 15, 2022
Fendi holds a unique space in my heart. Strangely vulgar, and yet sometimes so-chic, I always find pieces that make me dream. Black crocodile bags, all-over Fendi monogram coats, embossed shaved fur, caffe and créme colors, luxurious knits with plunging necklines, Silvia Venturini Fendi is giving me decadance, dripping in fashion. Of course, much of the collection is overly ostentatcious, and can feel a bit Givenchy circa 2013, but I can overlook this. The collection was an ode to old-world elegance and its impact on the culture and fashion of the 20's (2020's to be precise). It was also a treat to see more accent on expensive, constructed pieces, rather than the "athleisure" that has invaded the runways for the past few years. The transparent logo socks were another example of fun but chic accessories.
Paris, March 3, 2022
Nothing new here, but so wonderfully consistant and sexy. Tom Ford menswear is the embodiment of a jet-setting man with impeccable taste. The fabrics are rich, the colors are vibrant, and perhaps he is the only designer who can do the athleisure trend in a way that I can accept. As a fan of the Tom Ford Gucci 2000's era, I find the continuation of that here. Also, who can resist the glasses? A strong mix of stiff and slouchy tailoring, silky twills, velvet sweat-suits, 4-ply knits, and daring jewel-tones, this collection is more than highly-desirable.
Milan, February 25, 2022
However trite and vulgar many critics will say Gucci has become, I believe that if you take away the flowery advertising and "eveyrone's allowed in" image, there are actually some really impressive pieces - and the key takeway is piece-by-piece. A neat pair of pleated trousers, a tweed sport coat, crocodile shiny loafers, just having one of these paired with more sober clothes, and your look is set and blazing with elegance without having to scream and shout. This collection was entitled "Exquisite Gucci" from the surrealist parlour game Cadavre Exquis, by which a collection of images or words were assembled into a more compelling whole. However overly intelectual this may seem, at least it seemed appropriate for the looks coming down the runway. Another great take away from Gucci is the accessorizing. Little gold buckle belts, exotic skin shoes, the big black canvas Gucci monogram 48 hour bag, those grey-blue shoes that remind us of the 80's... Of course there was also the Adidas collaboration : Another example of the athleisure trend, but I can let most of that pass here.
Milan, February 26, 2022
What a saga at Bottega! The departure of Daniel Lee was explosive in the fashion world, as in a short amount of time he was able to drive the house into the upper echelons of "cool", and nobody was expecting his leave. Matthieu Blazy has finally released his much anticipated show. The style in general hasn't changed that much, as Blazy is continuing the simple silhouette with graphic cuts and slouchy trousers. A new touch; however, is the use of trompe l'oeil. What seemed like jeans were actually leather trousers. The bags come off a little too unfinished, but perhaps that is the desired look. The tailoring is tasteful and fresh, and the leather coats are highly effective.
Some shows that I have to say were simply not possible:
Burberry : I don't know what Riccardo Tisci and his team are thinking, but a style that so strongly marked the 2010's is now quite cliché and screams "look-at-me!" fashion-victim. I wouldn't be keen on meeting someone wearing any of the new atrocious frocks from this sadly defunct house. Such a shame, Burberry was once a staple in the well-to-do wardrobe. Obscure Humpty-Dumpty trousers brought up to the breast line, skirts (kilts?) of a half-cut trench, and a terribly dull 1st look, the show just seemed dated and trying hard to seem disruptive. It seems that perhaps the final client is also registered in the database of Philipp Plein. Also, more clunky oversized shoes - when will it ever end?
Prada : I suppose that the casting of off-the-beaten-path celebrities was a possible ruse to cover up for the oddball collection that came down the runway. Trousers folding over themselves on top of clunky square toed shoes (dare I say, subdued clown shoes?), oversized shoulders that are the embodiment of the phrase "don't let the clothes wear you" , and a ghostbusters trying so hard to be fashion vibe. I also noticed the horrendous trend of faux fur finishing at the bottom of coats or sleeves that look out of place, and are terribly unflattering in terms of proportion. How hard does the Prada man need to make himself stand out in an ugly way? Does he need that negative attention so badly in order to express his unique vision of himself to the world? Despite this show being a total train wreck and a sad continuation of a downard spiral of what used to be such a refined and intelectual without having to try being intelectual brand, I did enjoy some of the oversized knitwear that came up almost soberly compared to the rest. Still, Raf Simons has indeed managed to solidify his vision of Prada - much to the clamor and disgust of many die-hard Prada fans.
Kiton : I don't really consider Kiton as being in "fashion", but taking into account their attempts of creating a constant presence on Vogue Runway and other media outlets dedicated to fashion, I felt the need to address them here. A pitiful lookbook-style shoot was released during fashion week, where we see looks that seem to be made for men who are still boys and are too afraid of looking good. Skinny jeans, with ugly zara-esque tennis-shoes, a casting of VERY commercial models, clothes that don't fit well (not good for a tailoring house!), and ombré (!!!) T-shirts, Kiton has managed to lose all of it's prestige over the last few years. Brioni would be a good example for them to follow...
Written by: James V. Thomas