Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Balmain - Spring 2011 - Review

Christophe Decarnin has been riding the Balmain hype wave of his own making for a couple of seasons now it seems, which is probably why something like a pair of ripped jeans from the storied French house can retail for in the thousands of dollars. Viewing this collection of seemingly basic garments, you would wonder how anyone would sleep at night spending $400 on a T-shirt or $4000 on pea-coat, but all you would have to do is go to your nearest luxury department store to discover why the wealthy choose Balmain for their street clothes: it's fucking cool.

This collection definitely has a punk edge: studded belts, hooded vests, combat boots, skinny jeans, tanks, and above all, lots of black. A pair of cargo shorts looks a little too American Eagle for my taste, but that is quite normal for a Balmain men's collection. Mr. Decarnin mixes luxury dresswear in the form of rumpled blazers and button up shirts with seemingly basic sportswear. If I had to invest in one piece, though, it would be the leather jacket. With just enough bells and whistles to make it a stand out, and enough quality and thoughtful design to make it functional and fashionable, this piece truly kicks ass and takes names.

I would compare the Balmain men's clothing to that of Diesel; edgy, urban street-wear with a twist, produced in luxury fabrics and sold at crazy prices. But hey, if you have the money, for most people, the label on the inside makes it worth the tag on the outside, especially when the label says "Balmain."

Yves Saint Laurent - Spring 2011 - Review

Stefano Pilati laments about how men today do not know how to dress. Well if the Yves Saint Laurent spring 2011 presentation is any indication of how he wants us all to look (and I would reason that it is), then I'm not sure I can take Mr. Pilati's style advise quite so seriously anymore.

A black stewardess hat over a long black mac coat, wide-leg black trousers, black socks, and Birkenstocks! In the spring and summer? And that is only the first look. We are talking knitted man-corsets, crotch skimming high waisted shorts, and skin tight wide neck tees, all in dark colors and layered in a way that would seem like a form of torture for the spring and summer seasons.

This style shift that Mr. Pilati keeps trying to plug is no joke. It is a total upheaval of everything we deem masculine and acceptable to leave the house in in our society. While there was some redemption for the collection in the slim fit belted blazers, this collection was mostly a confusing jumble of ideas that I am certain will not catch on in the next decade, let alone for next spring.

Alexis Mabille - Spring 2011 - Review

Alexis Mabille does woodland fairy for spring 2011. Flowers are the prominent motif in a collection made of beautiful, but overly feminine clothes. The day that guys parade around in short-short rompers is the day the fashion landscape changes forever, though it does seem that Mr. Mabille is all in favor of a change in menswear, and a radical one at that. Sequin adorned sweatpants, tanks, and ponchos only serve to support that suggestion. The clothes are whimsical and fabulous, but I doubt any man will wear them. Now their girlfriends on the other hand...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dries Van Noten - Spring 2011 - Review

Right up front I'll tell you this: Dries Van Noten is one of my favorite designers. He makes the kind of men's clothing that I wish I could pull off. His designs don't follow trends (something that I love in a designer), yet they are always current. They are always recognizable, and not because they have a big monogram on them, but because of their eccentric prints and interesting proportions. When I die, I want to go to his store in Paris and live among the racks of beautiful garments (despite the fact that they don't carry mens in that store, but that will all be corrected by then I'm sure). All of that said, this was not one of my favorite collections.

The collection begins, well enough, with what Mr. Van Noten does best: double breasted jackets. Layered over acid wash jeans it's certainly new, I would venture even refreshing that he has chosen to somewhat follow the rock-star trend. What follows though is quite dull. It seems Mr. Van Noten relied on a Jackson Pollock-esque button down to add flare to looks that were black and white and lacking of any inspiring message. The acid wash jeans return, but look awkward with a pinstriped suit jacket and dress shoes. A series of "blah" looks follow in a variety of creams, whites, and blacks.

It's about half way through the collection (I would say a long time to wait) that Mr. Van Noten finally picks up speed. It begins with a double breasted white blazer over, yet again, the acid wash jeans. This time looking less awkward and more playful in a look that is blatantly dressy versus casual. An acid wash denim jacket follows; now there is a piece I could see fitting right in the Dries Van Noten store on the Seine. While things get a little too casual for my liking (at least in a runway setting) with ordinary white tank tops and tees, everything truly comes together around the 24th look.

A beautiful brown cardigan is closed with a leather belt, a grid print shirt is tucked into a better pair of acid wash jeans with a windbreaker, and an oversized khaki trench looks thrown over the perfect denim shirt and, you guessed it, yet another pair of acid wash jeans.

There are definitely some great pieces in this collection, but it is hard to appreciate it as a whole when half of the collection looks like an afterthought. Maybe I am just disappointed because I have such high standards for this designer. The second half of the collection definitely hinted at the Dries I know and love, I just wish it had been there for all 47 looks.

Yohji Yamamoto - Spring 2011 - Review

Crazy prints, meet crazy colors, meet crazy proportions in a Mad Hatter-esque collection that is classic avant-garde Yohji Yamamoto. There is an obvious Benjamin Franklin/Americana influence in the buckled shoes, powdered faces, white wigs, and bloomers, but done in a style that does not feel dated, but current. While not exactly pieces you would buy right off the runway, Mr. Yamamoto knows his client will appreciate this eclectic mix of garments.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hermés - Spring 2011 - Review

There is something irritating about watching all of the spring menswear shows walk the runway in the summer, a year before any of the clothing will ever become available. This predicament becomes truly frustrating after viewing the Hermés collection. Though I will probably never own anything from the Hermés ready-to-wear collection in this lifetime, I can still appreciate the quality of materials and design that goes into creating a collection so effortlessly beautiful.

Every single model walked the runway looking like they had arrived ten minutes before the show, ran their fingers through their hair, got dressed, rolled up their sleeves, and stepped out. It's hard to look that good all time time, but Veronique Nichanian is able to produce over 40 different outfits, all with the same relaxed qualities, ensuring that the Hermés man will look always look this good.

Supple suedes and leathers are used in shirts, jackets, and pants to create a luxe feel, while cottons and linens ground the collection that is equal parts luxurious and simplistic. A waffle knit cardigan, appearing in both cream and military green, is one of my favorites. Double breasted blazers are dressed up and down and a zipper on a collared shirt is a functional and stylish alternative to buttons. Though their is a bright teal that appears a little shocking amongst the calm color palette, it does bring a needed jolt to the runway, despite the fact it is not very wearable.

Ms. Nichanian has designed a winning collection of luxe ready-to-wear. That same relaxed elegance that was so prominent in the Bottega Veneta collection a few weeks ago in Milan is also the main idea at Hermés. After another menswear season of crazy trends, it's nice to see some houses go back to the basics.

John Galliano - Spring 2011 - Review

John Galliano always tells a story in his collections. In the case of spring 2011, Galliano is telling the story of Charlie Chaplin as both a traveling hobo and a socialite. Cool, urban sportswear leads into sharply tailored evening looks fit for the English dandy, and then, in true Galliano style, the clothes start coming off. Models enter in branded briefs and blazers pulled to the side, exposing chiseled mid-sections. Not a terribly wearable collection apart from the odd double-breasted blazer and slacks, but extremely entertaining none-the-less.

Junya Watanabe - Spring 2011 - Review

It looks like Junya Watanabe has been spending a little time at the family yacht club on the French Riviera. In a collection that feels equally preppy and Parisian, Mr. Watanabe pairs thin (nautical) stripped shirts with double breasted blazers over wide leg pants (all of white are rolled up) and bucks or boat shoes. While some looks are slimmer, others have a wider cut, showing both range and irreverence. While Mr. Wantanabe's man may want to be trendy at times, what he cares about most is cool clothing in cool colors, and that is exactly what is delivered.

Along with great suiting comes the great outerwear that Mr. Watanabe is known for. A paper thin toggle coat in a dark khaki is a modern substitute for the trench in a summer storm, a bright yellow windbreak is perfect for the beach, and a navy blue anorak would look fitting with shorts for a walk on a breezy spring day.

The thin stripe motif continues throughout the collection, appearing in everything from tees, to sweaters, to pants, to blazers, in a variety of different color combinations. While their are some statement pieces in a sweatshirt blazer, a micro lapel button up white jacket, and a semi-striped utility shirt, the majority of the collection is easy and wearable. The perfect preppy component to any fashionable man's wardrobe.

Raf Simons - Spring 2011 - Review

Raf Simons has taken the fuller-leg pant trend to a whole new level. Super slim button downs and vests are paired with pants so wide legged that you could use the fabric from one leg to make a whole new pair. Then, very suddenly, everything changes. Before you know it everything is skin tight to the point where one model wears biker short leggings under a coat. And then we're back to baggy. Then back to slim... Confused yet?

It seems that for spring 2011 Mr. Simons wants his man to play with volume, wearing wide-leg one day, and pipe-leg the next, all the while keeping the torso slim. This is probably done in an attempt to elongate the body, as it was at Prada during the Milan shows a week ago. The man skirt also makes an appearance (as it did at Prada) over leggings in a neon pink. While we know that Mr. Simons loves his neons from his showing at Jil Sander, he also lets black and white have their moment in the first leg of the collection.

Overall the collection is filled with sharply tailored pieces, perfect for any mans wardrobe, paired with more dramatic garments that require a unique sort of gentleman to pull them off. Either way, the avant-garde man that wears Mr. Simons' clothing on a regular basis will be pleased.

Louis Vuitton - Spring 2011 - Review

I don't think I've ever seen a piece from the Louis Vuitton mens collection on the street. Come to think of it, I don't believe I've ever encountered an LV label in a department store either. With the exception of editorials and editors, it seems that the Louis Vuitton ready-to-wear collection will never make it off the runway. Judging from this collection, I would say that is a good thing and a bad thing.

There is no argument here that every piece that walked the runway at the Louis Vuitton show was expertly crafted in luxurious materials, fitted to perfection, and produced in a beautiful color palette of charcoals, browns, whites, and blues (with a few brighter colors sprinkled in). The problem I have is that I'm not really sure who the Louis Vuitton man is. Maybe it's as a result of the fact that nobody wears the clothes, but I can't seem to picture a personality that would wear all of these looks. Subsequently, I feel that the collection is disjointed as a whole, but that the individual pieces are beautiful.

A brown blazer (sleeves rolled up) with khaki shorts and sandals looks perfect for a casual summer job. A white suit paired with a white linen shirt and sandals would fit right in at a party in the Hamptons. A Louis Vuitton monogram meets Scott Campbell sheer short sleeved button down with washed stone colored shorts... now that looks fit for the Jersey Shore, as does a shiny blazer with a similar print.

Despite what I think of the garments, no one can deny that the accessories are a home run. In collaboration with Scott Campbell, Marc Jacobs' tattoo artist, Asian influenced etchings appear in leather bags as well as atop the original Louis Vuitton black and grey check. The check is also revamped in bright blue and green for canvas totes and carryalls. Again, sandals were the dominant choice for footwear, this time with thin leather straps criss crossing the foot in a variety of colors.

Hopefully some of the better pieces from the collection will see the light of day, but either way we all know that come spring 2011, the streets will be flooded with LV bags from the runway, whether they are being carried by a stylish summer intern in New York City, or Snooki on the Shore.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

SPLURGE - Pharrell Williams & Moncler at colette - $640 to $1045

Moncler refuses to give up its number one spot as the trendiest luxury outerwear manufacturer in the world. After collaborations with Thom Brown (who now designers their Gamme Bleu line) and Sacai (a niche womenswear designer), Moncler is at it again, this time with Pharrell Williams designing a capsule collection of vests (resembling the bulletproof kind) and a coat (which shares the same forrest green tree print as one of the vests). The collection is entirely green and black and is full of excellent statement pieces for this fall/winter season. Might I add that Monclers are also, without a doubt, the warmest coats of all time. The coats are available at colette and are already selling out in their second day on the racks. Splurge.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rick Owens - Spring 2011 - Review

Now here is an avant-garde collection if I've ever seen one. For spring 2011, Rick Owens has lightening up his approach to layering only somewhat, continuing to drape his man in layers of shirts and baggy pants under oversized coats. Tall boots accompany the majority of the looks, as well as wooden bangles, both hinting at a tribal influence (though one would never know it from the black, white, and brown color palette Mr. Owens employs for 100% of the collection).

Mr. Owens supplies great outerwear, as always, in the form of leather jackets and vests, as well as knee length short sleeved car coats. While all of the leather is covetable, I'm not sure I see a market for lengthy coats in the spring and summer, especially in jet black and white. This is also true for the awkward one shoulder tank tops and large leather sheets rapped around the models legs (though I doubt those will even be for sale), but at the end of the day, it has never been Mr. Owens' goal to sell clothing, despite the fact that his collection sells very well at the high end department store likes of Barneys New York.

At the end of the show a gaggle of models invaded the runway in sheer draped tees and tanks, drop crotch pants and shorts (the shorts which I did think created an interesting silhouette), and, again, tall boots. Looking like a strange group of gothic Tarzans, Mr. Owen's concluded his show by catapulting us into another world one again.

Viktor & Rolf - Spring 2011 - Review

Viktor & Rolf are known for their avant-garde clothing, making their spring 2011 collection feel simple in comparison. Though it may not be as ambitious as their previous efforts, it is simple in the best possible way. Neutral colors abound in a sharply tailored collection of both dressy and casual looks for every occasion.

Staple safari and leather jackets have chic designs and clean lines, short sleeved pullovers are expertly appointed for layering in the summer heat, double-breasted blazers look casual with a pair of shorts and slip ons, and relaxed sweat-shorts dress down button up shirts. The collection is full of contrasting ideas that meet in each look and serve only to compliment each other and offer a new form of dressing. No longer does a man have to switch from casual to dressy. Now he can have it all in one outfit and look fashion forward at the same time!

A double-breasted khaki suit worn with sandals is one of the best looks this season has seen while brightly colored patent brogues are expertly paired with softer looks to help bring excitement and somewhat follow the neon trend. Viktor & Rolf also excelled at the baggy trouser (a garment that is looking to become the staple piece of the spring season) by not only tapering it bellow the knee, but cropping it just above the ankle to give it a modern appeal. Belted blazers also appear several times throughout the collection, truly putting the "coat: in sports-coat by cinching the waist with what looks like the belt of a trench.

The collection offers great dresswear and sportswear alike, as well as a host of sophisticated footwear. Though it may not be a particularly showy collection, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren have compiled a collection that I believe will appear in line with the trends while still retaining its own unique voice and character in stores come spring 2011.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Best Accessories - Milan - Spring 2011

The men's collections in Milan have turned out a variety of accessories for spring 2011. Let's start with the footwear. I used to believe whole-heartedly that mandals were the biggest style offense, and now I am eating my words. Both Gucci and Bottega Veneta have successfully re-interpresented the fashion faux pas to create mandals that I could see working as easily with a summer suit as a bathing suit. Prada also produced a fancy pair of footwear in the form of lace-up wing tips with platforms. Though they will probably be expensive, and probably not entirely wearable, that doesn't stop them from looking great on the runway.

Large man-bags are also in for spring 2011. Whether it's a large woven tote at Bottega Veneta, or a large leather carryall at D&G, the Italians sure know how to make a great bag. Definitely worth the investment for these carefully constructed and timeless products.

Designer sunglasses are crazy expensive so I would suggest waiting until the styles trickle down to lower priced lines (becuase at the end of the day, they are all made the same way with the same materials), but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy a sneak peak at what we'll all be wearing on the beach come 2011.

Off the runway, Tommy Ton at GQ visited the showrooms in Milan to scope out the hottest accessories. Tod's turned out, as always, amazing sneakers and driving shoes in every color of the rainbow. In addition to footwear, they also produced great woven leather bracelets in different color combinations. Though I'm not into man jewelery myself, these bracelets look surprisingly masculine.

Ally Capellino produced some amazing bags for spring 2011. Known for her durable construction and quiet branding, Capellino created a collection of beautifully timeless pieces in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and colors.

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