Born in Pennsylvania in 1965, Thom Browne moved to New York City in 1997. He worked in the Giorgio Armani showroom, eventually leading to a position in the creative department of Club Monaco, where he stayed until launching his own label. Believing that the modern ubiquity of casual dress lends the wearing of suits a sort of subversive edge, Browne has claimed as his signature impeccably-tailored suits in traditional wools and flannels, each with updated proportions. Initially shocking to the fashion world, his designs have placed him at the vanguard of menswear. Thom Browne draws much of his inspiration from classic American style but refreshes the cuts with preppy details such as shrunken fits, grosgrain trim, and cropped trousers.
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.
Victoria’s Secret Funeral
In 2019, heaven (or rather, hell?) gained another angel—Victoria's Secret angel, that is. The lingerie label finally canceled its annual winter "fashion" show after decades of seven-figure Fantasy Bras and declining sales, putting to rest its presentation of passé beauty standards, carbon copy casting, and, of course, those wings. Fortunately, VS is survived by SS20's preferred take on sexy: long latex gloves, hardware details, mesh tops worn without bras, and a better perspective. Rick Owens sent models down the runway in half-zipped jumpsuits and jackets worn as shirts. London-based Supriya Lele offered a collection of ultra-cinched silhouettes, strappy trench coats, and shorts in the form of loose-fitting green underwear. Ann Demeulemeester's girl appeared ready to dominate in high slit black mini skirts with exposed fishnet undergarments. This season, we're following the footsteps of Queen Rih—didn't they tell you that she was a Savage...x Fenty?
"It" bags for all! This season the handbag has been liberated. There is no one must have shape, color, or size, rather, anything goes. A Thom Browne crossbody bag shaped like a football? Why not? We saw even more sculptural bags, in the shape of baseball hats at JW Anderson, and hard wrecking balls with chain-link handles at Marine Serre. Rhude took the mini-purse trend to menswear with a literal cigarette carton bag. And we can’t forget the classic baguette bag, updated everywhere this season in fabrics from snake-print to patent leather. For SS20, grab hold to whatever catches your eye. The choice is yours at the bag buffet.
Princess Peach is that unattainable half-mushroom goddess who brings purpose to Mario’s eight-bit life. She is elusive, light on her feet, strong-willed, yet laughs easily. She’s also an absolute unsung style icon. Her puff-sleeved pink dress with ornate bodice and bustle, her jeweled crown, elegant white opera gloves, and occasional coordinating parasol. Peach is, of course, a damsel—in itself sartorially aspirational—but she also knows how to play dirty to beat Bowser. For SS20, we’re seeing Princess inspiration everywhere, from ruffles and rose-tinted palettes at CDG, GmbH, and Dior Homme, to bustle-inspired, nip-waisted silhouettes at Ashley Williams and Thom Browne. And while Molly Goddard and Simone Rocha have been about Princess styles from the start, for SS20, Peach is upping her reach.
Our relationship to color has been fickle at best—vacillating from bright and bold one season to cold and muted the next. If 2019 recipient of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, Christopher John Rogers, is any measure of what we’re feeling chromatically this season, it’s loud and proud color all the way. While structured, corporate silhouettes have been making a comeback in recent seasons, don’t be fooled into believing this means it’s all work and no fun. Quite the contrary—this year we’re channeling a more colorful character: Stanley Ipkiss, aka The Mask. Zany to a point that verges on irritation, Ipkiss might be obnoxious, but he bears an important message: it’s possible to find success while still never taking yourself too seriously. There’s usually very little return for white-knuckling control over your aesthetic self and body for the sake of the performative illusion of corporate competence, so why not loosen your tie and pick canary yellow or kelly green when choosing tomorrow’s suit. In 2020, having a personality is the epitome of professionalism.
All-aboard! SS20 is calling for a new take on nautical and you don’t want to miss the boat. Sperrys and shorts in the city exude total leisure as downtown meets starboard for a vibe that’s equally Yacht Club and brunch in Brooklyn. If you’re the type of person to go sockless in loafers, all-season your striped Polo swim shorts, and regularly debate a Noah bucket hat in the morning mirror—you’re primed for SS20’s sporty captain look. Consider the sailor-inspired “tar flap” collared shirts from Loewe, or Prada’s striped short-suits, reminiscent of the days when a bathing suit was a full fit.
This summer, fashion goes Dutch. Haystacks, the harvest, starry nights, sunflowers. Knitwear and evening wear that call to mind Van Gogh’s en plein air countryside tableaux. Straw hats, farmer details, thick brushstrokes, palettes that include pollen-yellow, pale green, browns and blues (and root vegetable neutrals). Consider Jacquemus’ entire oeuvre: the runway itself staged on a field, but also, the clothes. Simon Porte’s airy and exaggerated silhouettes, his straw carryalls and bucket hats, and sun-kissed palette that feel totally on brand (i.e totally hopeful, cheeky, unserious and merry). More painterly options include brands with a decidedly downtown cool like Collina Strada or Charlotte Knowles, whose body-conscious florals feel somehow fairytale and free: rich orange-yellows, gilded petal patterns, camo-horticulture, gold lips. Or Marine Serre’s macrame bags and botanic patchwork—only Marine Serre could add a raw edge to macrame and patchwork. There’s Palomo Spain’s scarecrow-inspired suiting and Nanushka’s fringe and fishnet details. And one cannot talk about poetic knits without mentioning Missoni or Stella McCartney’s careful application of rope and strappy heels. And of course Jonathan Anderson’s Loewe wonderland that—while not at all rustic—was so purely romantic with lacework and flared shapes in colors like wheat-y taupe signalling the outdoors and those long afternoons spent seeking patches of shade. But no other brand better captures Van Gogh’s post-impressionist influence like Christian Dior. Maria Grazia Chiuri sent models down the runway in artisanal interpretations of a Provencal farm. Meadow-y likeness was the mood with pasture-inspired haystack sundresses and slouchy decorative wildflower sweaters. This summer, the Dior profile calls to mind Van Gogh’s “A Woman Walking in a Garden." So: Van-go and get some fresh air.
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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