A GUIDE TO THE FUTURE AND NEXT SEASON’S PRODUCT
Springtime brings a chance to start fresh, to simplify, to leave the boots, scarf, and mitts behind. Though this season, you’re more likely to hear about shedding microplastics—one piece of synthetic clothing can release 700,000 toxic fibers in a single wash—than shedding layers. While many of the SS20 trends are still referencing moments from the past, thankfully, the conversation around fashion’s environmental impact has changed in a big way. This means innovation. Designers are upcycling, fabrics are mutating, silhouettes are morphing. With the new decade comes a new frontier of trends. Time to get acquainted with the help of the SSENSE SS20 trend report, part two.
Despite fashion's regular revival of the 70s and 80s, not even Sandy's power-move makeover in 1978's Grease can compete with the carnival looks worn in HBO's latest hit highschool series, Euphoria. Since the show's premiere, trend-savvy teens (and full-grown adults) have transformed their wardrobes, makeup bags, and Insta feeds with a surplus of tie-dye, miniature knapsacks, and enough sequins to form a lifetime supply of confetti. For SS20, the anticipation for season two becomes even more apparent: Palm Angels' Francesco Ragazzi offered classroom-fleeing butterfly iconography, Versace's beauty looks featured cotton candy-colored hair dye, and Bella Hadid's backstage look at Fendi brought to mind both Jules' signature mesh shirts and Rue's glitter tears. Unlike Grease, Sam Levinson's Euphoria isn't preoccupied with dressing for happy endings—instead, it sets the scene for the bittersweet (and at times exhilarating) moments of coping with reality.
If Candy Land were a real universe and not just a delicious fantasy, then Tyler the Creator’s alter-ego IGOR would be the mayor, governing the town in matching pastel suits, a different color for every day. Elements of the SS20 runways were clearly inspired by the sweeter side of things, an interesting parallel to the dark, apocalypse-adjacent styles seen in many shows. At Jacquemus, models in relaxed pastel suits glided down a pink runway that wound its way through fields of purple lavender. Fellow French label Officine Générale made a case for the timelessness of the perfect pink suit, layered over a striped tee and finished off with some white sneakers. Even austere brands like Givenchy and Bottega Veneta offered lighter moments with compelling soft pink and blue blazers respectively. A styling tip, complete your sweet-as-can-be look with Balenciaga’s Hello Kitty handbag. What better vessel to tote your Sour Keys and Fuzzy Peaches?
Molting is the process by which a snake routinely casts off its skin to facilitate new growth, evolving into a bigger, stronger version of itself. The action of shedding that which no longer serves us is cathartic, and catharsis an essential ethos to carry with us through the transition from FW19 to SS20, where mesh figures heavily. Topographically similar to a snake’s skin, its knotted, open texture varies in dimension, from discreet and gauzy, to netted and loose. Hanging from our bodies or clinging to our flesh, it suggests a soul in transition. Are you revealing or are you concealing? Growing into your truest form through shedding toxic habits (and toxic relationships), when posed with the question, “are you ready for what’s next?” mesh says, “yes.”
The Blue Lagoon
Find your beach, your villa on the beach, that is. Your private resort getaway, steps from the bluest ocean waves—the kind of water with crystal, gemlike aqua tones that feel discoverable and exclusive. While vacationing is a state of mind—cozy plan-canceling, face-masking and couch-islands certainly rejuvenate—the upshot of actually departing for warmer temps means dressing the part. Think: T Magazine travel stories, Faye Dunaway or Rene Russo in The Thomas Crown Affair, or Lee Radziwill in Ravello, Italy. Think effortless beige and ecru and all things The Row, whose minimal silhouettes reduce beach-dressing to essential tenets: crisp cotton, crewnecks, and white denim, leather Tevas and refined layering pieces. Clare Waight Keller’s vision for Givenchy is similarly subdued and sensible, but with a touch of runway drama—vacation dressing should be cinematic, always.
Become the vacay-lady who wears her sunglasses at night and her leather in shades of tan (and more tan...a whole spectrum of delicious tan!). Brands like Max Mara follow suit with tailored shorts or sporty leather (for day-tripping to nearby seaside towns) and brands like Khaite commit—big time—to loose and loungey states of undress that bring to mind the chicest shipwreck vibes in these Jacquemus-playful times. Bottega Veneta’s continued reign of all things sex-and-suggestive-leather is a SS20 trove of vacation fetish-wear: sandals, sandals, more sandals.
Shoulder-revealing dresses and silky tops that look like boat sails, and leather in summery shades of 90s baby blue, creamy coffee, and bone-white. Lemaire’s enduring pledge to earthy-slouchy tailoring and belted nonchalance (the sort of coat that’s meant to be tossed on a Thonet chair) only further establishes the brand as refined, selective, nostalgic (their seat-cover bead bags are instantly iconic it-bags for those who loathe the term). Lemaire’s chill austerity is ideal for the vacationer who knows what she wants, but more accurately, knows what she doesn’t. And finalement! As if we’d forget the most important getaway detail: hidden treasure. Nothing says rest like returning with a tan and some gold. Or jewelry that looks like you found it at the bottom of the sea or “stumbled upon it” at the local antique market. Alighieri’s raw metal treasures have that one-of-a-kind sparkle that feels traveled, unique, rare. Jewelry for the journey home. Riches that at first glance look nonpareil.
In his legendary 1998 single “Gimme Some More,” Busta taught us that if you ain’t gon’ be part of the greatest, then you have to be the greatest yourself! He is not only one of the most original lyricists of his time, but his style is just as unique. Along with peers like Missy Elliot, Janet Jackson, Puffy, and Hype Williams, Busta created the 90s, flamboyant futuristic look. Nobody has done it like them since, but their influence is clearly still an enduring source of inspiration for contemporary designers. For SS20, Anne Demeulemeester, GmbH, and Rick Owens all sent shiny, silver, sexy cyborg-esque looks down the runway perfect for a 90s red carpet rap moment or big budget video shoot. This aesthetic is all about lounging the luxe way, draped in uncommon threads and shiny things. Think silk pyjamas and velvet Versace slippers. It’s all fair game, but be warned, requisite confidence is not included.
Brown Paper Bag
You can’t get more minimal than a brown paper bag, and we still can’t get enough of minimalism, apparently. This season, simplicity stalwarts The Row and Lemaire deliver what they do best: eloquent, tailored silhouettes in luxe materials and basic, basic shades. And there’s one thing about fashion that’s forever certain: reliable minimalism will never go out of style. Boredom can be absolutely thrilling.
Written by Max Lakin (Dec, 2019) and originally posted here: https://nosax.me/2NSHFEU
From Louis XIV to Harry Styles, Stacked is Back in Menswear
Did any man love wearing heels as much as Louis XIV? You might suggest Prince, or Marc Jacobs, but The Sun King came first, barely breaching five feet and so perhaps preternaturally partial to a four inch heel, particularly in a proto-Louboutin red. His affinity meant that under his reign, the altitude of a man’s heel became a shorthand measure of his virility, so much so that the heel was diktat: only nobility were allowed to wear them. Like pumps in New York winter as the telegraph that your chauffeur is idling outside, a red heel was wildly impractical and hopeless to walk in, which was exactly the point—it’s wearer is rich enough to not have to walk.
Along the way men transferred their affectations elsewhere—the Great Male Renunciation sloughed off the flamboyant and the jaunty—and convinced themselves of the high heel’s effete connotations, which of course never made any sense. What is the cowboy boot, the preferred footwear of the most masculine caricature conceivable, if not a high-heeled stunner? The conspicuous flash of the cowboy’s heel is insulated by its utility (necessary to keep it in a saddle’s stirrups), but the teetering thrill of a few extra inches is surely undeniable.
Still, something subversive in a men’s heel persists, a gleeful flouting of arbitrarily prescriptive rules, the frisson of something unallowed and untested. Women have recognized the stiletto as a fount of sexualized power for a century. It was only a matter of time before men unyoked themselves. Harry Styles, the spiritual heir to the joys of pop rock’s sartorial swagger, has been dallying about in a selection of Gucci heels (it helps that he’s on the payroll); last month he announced an upcoming world tour with a tightly-cropped image of his shoe’s heel. Marc Jacobs has taken to clomping around New York in a series of Rick Owens vertiginous “KISS” boots, an ankle-high, squared-off Chelsea style in buffed leather with a three-inch stacked platform midsole that ascends, like the build before a log flume drop, into the exclamation point of a four-and-a-half inch block heel. It’s total, uncompromising camp, and pictures of Jacobs in them, vamping downtown, admiring the foliage in Central Park, doing jazz hands, suggests he’s never had more of a ball.
Men find canny ways to skirt gender edicts. For generations of men desperate to carry a bijou handbag but hemmed in by calcified gender codes, liberation arrived in the shape of the harness pack, by all appearances a bum bag but styled as a gun holster, an acceptable concession ratified by every streetwear-addled man under 35. There’s precedence, too, in Dr. Martens, a classic of the genre, a combat boot with a hefty lug midsole and heel to match which, because of its history in the punk scenes of London and New York, carries an unimpeachably hard-edged look. For the more assured pocketbook, Christian Louboutin offers his own take, a polished version with a slightly more pronounced heel that willfully jostles gender norms.
Where once innovation in menswear was marked in glacial increments of suit lapel drift, a man dressing himself in 2019 is spoiled for choice. A lot of this is thanks to the European creep into American taste: if Alessandro Michele’s Medici maximalism at Gucci doesn’t thrill, there’s Demna Gvasali’s Balenciaga’s Central Bloc chic. These are two wildly different expressions of taste and proportion, and yet, each is pushing a men’s block heel: Gucci with horsebit ankle boots, the word “Kitten” hammer-stamped on its two inch stack; Balenciaga with a glossy pretty-ugly square toe trailing a minorly more demure inch-and-a-quarter. You can find a straight flush of two-inch ankle styles in the current crop from Balmain, Lemaire, and Fendi. Y/Project has an especially mesmeric calf-high stack heel in oil slick patent leather. A high-octane treaded pair from Thom Browne, with pin-buckle straps and antiqued gold-tone hardware, looks like Timberlands on HGH, perfect for a morning of Madison Avenue mountaineering. Amiri suggests a suede Jodhpur with silver studded straps that promise the muted sheen of a Robin Hood enjoying early retirement in Palm Springs.
Of course most classic men’s dress shoes have been built with a modest heel for generations, a poorly kept secret that, like the necktie, is a holdover of subconscious masculine assertion. How funny is it that most of the men who would balk at the assumed feminized notion of wearing a heel already do so on a daily basis? To placate them, men’s heels usually exist in angled, stacked proportions that have precedence in the sturdier Cuban heel, so named for the style’s popularity among Flamenco dancers, as opposed to the taper of the stiletto, which apes the idealized feminine shape.
Because of its latter-day verboten status, the heel’s appearance on a man is like a natural wonder, like clocking a meadowlark in a scrum of pigeons. It’s instantly read as provocation regardless of the particulars or total aesthetic effect. This is true of the Tabi boot, Maison Margiela’s split-toe secret handshake introduced in 1988, a fashion deep cut until last year, when Margiela began offering them in men’s sizing, a heretofore inaccessible imprimatur opened to a new swath of men looking for something—anything—else. A picture of Stefano Pilati, late of Yves Saint Laurent and Zenga, attending Pitti Uomo in Florence in 2017 positively bleeds sprezzatura: the designer in a pair of well-worn Tabi boots, leaning against a sun-baked wall, ascending from the cobbles by eight ecstatic centimeters of cylindrical stacked leather, a spent bottle of San Pellegrino at his feet. If there’s a better appeal to men to get lifted, the world hasn’t yet known it.
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