Michael Kors Fall 2014 menswear

There’s not a waistband in any of the looks,” Michael Kors said by way of preface to his Fall lineup. Those waited outside, in the sales showroom. When the collection came from the factories, the pieces Kors gravitated to were the sweats and track pants, all in luxurious fabrications—double-faced cashmere, suede, suiting flannel—and all with drawstring waists. That gives you an idea of the bet he’s making on ease. (“And we had so many fabulous belts…” he said wistfully afterward.)

He was reacting, he said, to the twin nightmares of business-formal overdressing and casual Fridays. He combined both into what he called “Big Sur meets Big City.” Baja sweaters and beanies abounded. There were suit fabrics and tailored jackets, but softened into something more like pajamas than power suits. A representative look paired crinkled flannel track pants with a longer, three-button jacket, untucked shirt, mohair pullover, and sandals. “It’s the crushing of Wall Street,” Kors said gleefully.

That’s an odd way for a man behind the most blockbuster fashion IPO in memory to repay Wall Street, but his bankers may be the only people able to afford ten-ply cashmere long johns. If the collection doesn’t portend the demise of the suit, it does suggest Kors has shrugged off some of the self-consciousness of his last collection for a glamorous ease that seems closer to his heart. Piece after piece was desirable, even when faintly ridiculous: cashmere sweats, suede joggers. “I have a feeling someone in Dubai will actually work out in these,” Kors said. Workout-ready or no, one major retailer exiting the presentation confirmed that luxury
loungewear is a salable and growing category.




Marni Spring 2014 Menswear

Since Marni recently took over an old factory as its new multipurpose venue in Milan, it was tempting to see the huge industrial space as an influence on its menswear for Spring 2014, the first collection to be shown in Spazio Marni. “Industrial” was the word that Consuelo Castiglioni came back to when she was talking about the utilitarian spirit of the clothes: the huge parkas, the zips and ribbed waistbands, the sleeveless blazer, the snap-on details (like the apron on a pair of shorts), the flat, dry fabrics. But there’s always a curious duality in Castiglioni’s clothes for both men and women. They’re never exactly as they seem. Those parkas, for instance: Their volume was capelike, almost romantic in an odd way. The utility was tweaked with a sporty spirit that felt fresh for Marni, as in an oversize, soft-shouldered bomber or a jacket with raglan sleeves in denim. A print of big polka dots was actually placed (technically complex, the very definition of a private pleasure for print cognoscenti; a pleasingly bold graphic for everyone else). And, however solemn the clothes appeared, they were superlight to the touch.

Marni’s menswear is usually subtle to the point of barely there insinuation, but this season, with the women’s Resort collection in a showroom on the other side of Milan by way of comparison, there was a real sense of integration, and maybe even momentum.
Barely there insinuation looked, for once, like hidden strength.


ADEAM Spring 2014 RTW

When Hanako Maeda launched ADEAM (an inversion of her last name) back in 2011, she chose to accent the label’s logo with a plum flower taken from her family crest. Fittingly, nature has served as a continual source of inspiration for the young designer since the beginning. For Fall, Maeda conjured up a modern woodland fairy tale. She referenced Japanese cherry blossoms
during Resort, and used hydrangeas as the jumping-off point for her latest lineup today. Riffing on that theme, she developed an interesting, shibori-effect pattern by manipulating hydrangea cells viewed underneath a microscope.

The blown-up biological print was shown on feminine pieces like an A-line cap-sleeve dress and a pair of shorts with sheer fabric peeking out from underneath the hem. Maeda also embroidered petals along the sides of a kicky navy miniskirt. If the collection sounds very sweet, it was indeed—particularly the flirty frocks that mixed together eyelet lace and delicate organza. Still, “every rose has its thorn,” as Maeda pointed out backstage before her presentation at Lincoln Center. “All beautiful things have a darker strength, too. I wanted to do pretty pastels in grayer, washed-out tones,” she said. Working in that palette, she toughened things up a bit by including more menswear-inspired silhouettes and clean lines. A slim tailored suit looked fresh styled with a structured wool bra top underneath, and longer, lilac-colored leather shirts tapped into current trends. Overall, it was a carefully considered, easy-to-wear collection. The only remaining question is, what will be in bloom at ADEAM next season?


Shaun Samson Spring 2014

Nineties fabulosity colored the lot. Clever touches set the scene: the lanyards whose woven bands spelled out “Shaun Samson” in numeric pager code, the Samson-branded waistbands of boxers, peering out from over the waistbands of shorts. There was such a heady sense of objectification about his muscled boys shrugging off their shirts and sagging their shorts (nine a.m. show slot be damned) that it put one in mind of the young Marky Mark in his Calvins. But his shorts weren’t silk georgette and organza like these.

There’s frisson in that froth, but it’s not overwrought, unlike the work of some other young designers. It has the gentle friction Samson managed to ignite by putting several of his surf-iest guys in towels, wrapped around the waist. “It’s not a fashion statement,” he said. “It’s a way for a man to wear a skirt.” So it isn’t, and it is.

If it’s possible to have a light touch with bugle-beaded stripes—or last season’s sequin paillette basketball shorts—Samson has it. Maybe that’s just the SoCal way, man. Whatever it is, it’s worth celebrating. Samson lives in the sweet spot where tickling a fancy meets touching a nerve.



Bottega Veneta Spring 2013

A man in a gray flannel suit—that it immediately sparked a vision of mid-century Americana. And that initial impression never really let up, because the collection was layered with so many subtle references to the era. The intense graphicism of the scribble stitch on a cream leather blouson or the freehand paint stripes on a cotton tunic wouldn’t have looked out of place on the cover of an album from Blue Note, the legendary jazz label. (The finger-poppin’ jazzbo soundtrack certainly helped there.) In fact, jazzy cool defined the linear crispness of Tomas Maier’s tailoring. But the boxy, wide-sleeved shirts were fresh off the backs of a 1950s bowling league, and windowpane-checked slacks and rollneck knits were all about Rat Pack leisure.

All of this was, so far, in keeping with Maier’s ongoing exploration of the iconography of the American male. But there was something more interesting, more typically twisted, going on. Maier turned his new collection into a meditation on the process of design. He talked about the way a designer starts with a pencil and paper, makes a sketch, erases, redraws. Almost every item was defined in some way by what looked like a tailor’s chalk marks, delineating the outline of a pocket, a lapel. In some cases, the shape of the pocket had been changed radically, but the old outline remained. It was an intriguing way to underscore the fact that, for Maier, Bottega Veneta is still quite literally a work in progress.


Ami Fall 2013

Ami’s Alexandre Mattiussi draws inspiration from his friends and fans around Paris. The city is his design studio, and for his latest presentation, Mattiussi let his guests inside. The designer gets much of his inspiration, he said, from riding the metro, where in the
morning the guys going to work and the guys coming home from the party briefly meet. He re-created the experience at a presentation in the tenth arrondissement, where the verisimilitude extended to the masses pushing and crushing to get in. (There was even a little in-car music: the singer Benjamin Clementine, who did a rendition of Charles Aznavour’s “Emmenez-moi.”)

The men who “got on” the train were classic Ami types: tattooed young mecs in parkas and double-breasted coats, boiled wool knits and jeans, flannel shirts and little blousons. There was some distinction drawn between the professionals and the roustabouts—the former wore stiffer shirt collars and coats in more traditional menswear fabrics, like herringbone and Prince of Wales—but they were basically all of the jeune homme type. There was less that was immediately new, the way many of Ami’s odd bird prints were last season, but much that was uncomplicatedly shoppable.


Tocca Fall 2013 RTW

“It’s based on an ‘If I murdered my husband, this is the suit I’d wear to court’ kind of thing,” said Tocca designer Emma Fletcher at the brand’s presentation. It took no great leap to imagine the reformed Roxie Hart shimmying into Tocca’s black silk dress with inset diamonds of burnout velvet. Or perhaps she’d prefer the “Who, me?” ensemble of a lingerie pink silk cami spliced with French lace, shown tucked into a blush pink, calf-length A-line skirt with matching blazer.

On the more modern side was a lambskin leather dress with a fishnetlike panel over the chest that came from the Carlo Mollino photographs Fletcher’s been looking at, and some silky spaghetti-strapped slips of dresses. But best of all were the cover-ups. Coats, including a double-breasted herringbone number with leather-trimmed chevron pockets and a more formal black princess-seamed option, looked substantial enough to weather the current and any future storms. The overall effect was consistently Tocca: more vintage than pioneering, but just the sort of reserved yet seductive clothes that many women love to wear.



Belstaff Fall 2013

The first handful of looks gave an inkling of the direction: Belstaff was going back to its roots. The label rose to fame on the waxed cotton Trialmaster jacket, and after avoiding the fabric for several seasons, creative director Martin Cooper embraced it with a flourish. It wasn’t just jackets. Now skirts and trousers came in oil-slick black waxed cotton, too. “It was really about the heritage of the brand,” Cooper said backstage after the show. “It’s all about embracing what is our heritage iconic cloth, which is waxed cotton. It’s what is our calling card.”

But the inkling wasn’t binding. Despite recommitting to its own heritage, this collection actually found Cooper broadening his wares in ways not tried before. The expanded knitwear program was a good example. Yes, it maintained the moto touches, like reinforced elbow panels, that are Belstaff’s bread and butter (or should that be oil and petrol?), but it also suggested a newfound ease. Throw a merino sweater on over one of Belstaff’s new flounce skirts and high boots and you’ve got a look that’s bike-ready without being bike-beholden.


Mugler Fall 2013

I Want You, Nicola Formichetti and Romain Kremer’s latest show seemed to be saying, for the Mugler army. But despite a new martial insignia—MuglAIR—and a host of what looked like battle-ready outfits, including Velcro-closed “bulletproof” vests, flight jackets, and bombers, there were fewer convincing reasons than usual to enlist this time around. Radioactive neon suits and knits were eye-opening, but much of the military-inspired pieces that accompanied them were silly.

Excursions from reality often are, though Formichetti insisted that hyperrealism—”the ability to become somebody else in the digital world,” he wrote—was the point. Sifted for its most salable components, the collection has parts, like its tough suiting, that should have a second life at retail.





Bally Fall 2013 rtw

Bally’s Michael Herz and Graeme Fidler outfitted their presentation space like a haute igloo today, complete with faux-sheepskin floors and a pair of real Siberian husky puppies. Those dogs ran away with the show, but when you managed to tear yourself from the Instagram opportunity, there were smart shoes and outerwear to be found here. The designers are a little late getting in on the trend for men’s shoes, but they compensated by looking to the Swiss company’s 120-plus years of making brogues. A stacked-heel oxford looked good. As for the coats, the designers claimed they were inspired by Lee Miller, the World War II photographer turned Vogue portraitist. The connection wasn’t easy to see, but hand-painted buffalo-leather jackets with four-ply cashmere collars, as well as white minks inset with black leather to create a more fitted line, will find admirers anyway.


Louis Vuitton Fall 2013

Kim Jones has centuries of National Geographic secreted in his hidey-hole. The man is a natural-history buff to give David Attenborough a run for his money. The fact that he is also Louis Vuitton’s men’s studio and style director only adds extraordinary layers to his passion for nature. Imagine how he felt as he researched the latest men’s collection for Vuitton in the Himalayas, hiking through the Bhutanese cloud forest, the only place in the world where tigers and snow leopards cross paths. Ah yes, it’s a designer’s life.

But Jones is a connoisseur of life in all its forms. He understands luxury. The snow leopard he so loves made its presence felt in the first look of today’s show: a cashmere coat with an underlay of mink that had been needle-punched through to the surface to make a pattern of snow leopard spots. The tone was set: technical expertise meets extravagance. Jones said that the goal was to introduce elements of LV’s bread-and-butter leather goods into the clothes. You could imagine a bag being cut from a single hide, but a cocoon coat? How big was that animal? The seamless modernity of the result was compounded by laser-cut slash pockets. It was the same with a puffa made from reindeer leather, or a parka trimmed with a wide band of VVT (Vache Végétal Teinté), the result of Vuitton’s environmentally sound means of leather production.

Bhutan’s ethnic dress has only ten patterns for checks and stripes. Picture a Nat Geo-phile like Jones going haywire for the possibilities presented by such limits. They were here in the Bhutanese stripes of a duffel or a poncho. The designer wanted them to stand for the things that travelers return home with. At the same time, he commissioned Dinos and Jake Chapman,
Brit-art provocateurs par excellence, to make images that would translate across clothing and accessories. Their snow leopard sweater was benign. Their Garden in Hell print was something else, a luxuriously graphic rendition of flora and fauna with fangs, rendered in silk jackets, robes, and lounging pajamas. The tux will never be the same. Nor will the carpetbag, so densely, intensely clotted with needle-punched embroidery that it was a work of art walking.

If those extremes defined the personality of Jones as a designer, the cufflinks carved from stones lifted from Everest said something about him as a dreamer. And he certainly reached the top of that mountain with today’s collection.



Z Zenga Fall 2013

Z Zenga went for a country walk this season—the kind of country walk that wends you toward the local mad-science lab. You can pipe in all the fresh air, birdsong, or forest-floor runway you want (ZZ, at least, provided the latter), but the heartbeat of the label is always going to be innovation. And so it was. The “great outdoors” of the show’s title—”The Urban Wanderer Meets the Great Outdoors”—loosened up some of the stricter lines of Paul Surridge’s previous collections, but the show stayed as tough and future-leaning as ever. How could it not, given its dedication (so say the trusty show notes) to offering “clarity and order in today’s fast
fashion maelstrom”?

The collection was made of cloth, you had to admit, but tweaked and teased until you barely recognized it as such: heat-bonded, felted, degradé-d…the list goes on. It seemed more like some kind of alien element. Jackets rounded stiffly about the body or were sewn with reversed seams all the way down to their jointed elbows, so that they seemed to be exoskeletons. There were intricately quilted trenches, suits, and bombers, and a full suit made of raincoat. The bags and backpacks had the hard, faceted shape of gemstones.

As a visual spectacle of fashion, this ranked among the highest of the day, and the quality is unimpeachable, but the true success of the collection was that very little of it seemed unwearable—though it’s worth wondering if every customer shares Surridge and the label’s taste for tweaks. Some shearling buyers may prefer shearling to the wool-and-silk replicant version ginned up here, say. Then again, some may not. If Surridge and Z Zegna do decide to stop and smell the flowers a bit, they’re headed in the right direction. They’re out there in the great outdoors.


Roberto Cavalli Fall 2013 Menswear

The ninth-floor penthouse once belonged to the Gucci who was gunned down by his wife. It was bare bones when the Cavallis came across it, but Daniele Cavalli instantly felt its rightness for his vision. He thought it essential to create an environment that spoke about style, not fashion, to launch the new men’s collection. In 15 days, the huge apartment was transformed
into the Cavalli version of a traditional gentlemen’s club. There was a lot of purple and pony skin, and a view of the Duomo for which people would sell their firstborn.

Daniele Cavalli is 26. He has been directing the menswear arm of his family’s business for two years. Tonight, Dad was laid up at home with the flu, and as Daniele walked guests through his playland, his enthusiasm was barely contained. Total control! Still, he sounded like a chip off Roberto’s block when he talked about making his own prints using an instrument called a
teleidoscope. Unlike a kaleidoscope, it fractures reality into a thousand glittery fragments. Everywhere, there were teleidoscopic prints: feathers, snakeskin, flowers, on jackets, matching shirts and ties. They contributed to the uniquely Cavalli-esque quality of the daywear, though it was already there in spades in a crocodile-printed pony coat, or another one in leather with bejeweled buttons and buckles.

But Daniele didn’t really give the impression that daywear was where his heart lay. He became positively electric as he entered the salons where the eveningwear was displayed. “I want the Cavalli man to be the equal of the Cavalli woman,” he proclaimed; considering her wanton allure, that will be a tall order. But Daniele gave it a shot with a full range of evening jackets, from basic black tux to Vegas-beaded extravaganza. There were shoes and bow ties in every texture from feather to croc, and cufflinks that ran a gamut from semiprecious bees to small, discreet squares of white python. (Nice, those.) The photographer Rankin produced a
portfolio of images and videos to illuminate the collection. All in all, it was an ambitious leap into the future from a young someone whose strands of DNA are twisted with glitz. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so they say. Anyway, everything looks better with a view.