Should you be a Real Man (RM) who still labors under the impression that Fashion Week is only for fashionistas, please allow me to show you the error of your ways. Much like Mardi Gras, there are parades, giveaways, and beautiful people at every turn; an army of people attend each and every one of the fashion shows: spectacles of creativity and passion lasting around 20 minutes on which a designer's next six months of editorial reviews, magazine placements and sales is determined. Watching the scene unfold is like being invited to the ultimate Fashion Party...and marathon - in our case, involving a 72 hour stint running around NYC to catch a total of 20 shows.
In case you missed the festivities, here's your handy Real Man's Fashion Trend Cheat Sheet for Fall 2010:
Many of the menswear collections were inspired by the various uniforms we wear to define ourselves, especially in shades of gray, black, & beige - the main color palette for Fall 2010 (easily three quarters of the shows I attended fell into one of these three color categories.) The defining pattern for fall is without a doubt plaid, mostly in grey and black although some designers like Michael Bastian and Nicolas Petrou opted for more vibrant combinations. Of the various new synthetic materials designers are starting to use, an eco-chic standout was the outerwear at Vaute Couture made from vegan-friendly "wool" that looked and felt just like the real thing. Old brands looked fresh again, thanks to new creative directors taking bold steps forward, more so at Calvin Klein and less so at Perry Ellis (but a step forward nonetheless); both Michael Kors and Tommy Hilfiger embellished upon their quintessential "American" design aesthetic. In terms of accessories, the thin ties with stripes are becoming more monochrome, or left off entirely, with just the top-button buttoned. Hats continued making a comeback, especially classics like derbies and fedoras. The footwear for Fall is the boot, including hiking boots, Doc Martens, boxing boots (conspicuously absent was the cowboy boot) - so prepare to shine 'em up or shred 'em down.
While the sheer amount of (manly) gray, beige and black - along with all the plaid - may not be enough to make a RM sit up and look forward to fall, the layering and texture will definitely have many a fashionisto anticipating the end of the year. Here’s hoping you'll find more than a few things that fit your personal style, and help turn you in the style-savvy RM you want to be next fashion season...if you're large & in charge, no worries as you can easily score large menswear by High&MightyUK:
Commonwealth Utilities Fleet Week meets Wall Street. Anthony Keegan and Richard Christiansen successfully and cohesively blended these contrasting styles into a black/gray plaid flannel blazer paired with flat-coated gray denim straight jeans, chunky cable-knit fisherman's sweaters worn over long johns and socks, and, what was for me, the real winner: a tuxedo shirt and black skinny jean under distressed black leather trench coat. The raw artistry and hip young vibe (the show was held in the raw and unfinished NoMad Hotel) will probably ensure the collection is a big seller.
Calvin Klein Italo Zucchelli presented his second collection since taking over as Men’s Creative Director for Calvin Klein. A bold, forward-thinking collection that featured stellar outerwear, it also included a patterned gray and black suit in made from traditional menswear suiting that was a standout. However, it was the synthetic fabrics that proved most directional and unique. A shiny synthetic-fabric suit with elastic cuffs seemed, at first, like disposable (but tailored) coveralls a city worker might wear for a night out...was Zuccelli mocking the disposability of fashion? However, as I watched the models walk, I realized these could actually represent the ultimate comfort suit and reassessed my initial reaction. Both of the versions - one in black and one in grey over an identically colored t-shirt or button-down shirt - gave off a futuristic vibe that indicated Calvin Klein was taking a giant fashion step forward.
Perry Ellis If Calvin Klein was busy taking big steps forward, John Crocco at Perry Ellis was more measured in his attempt to update the Perry Ellis image. The 42 runway looks were mostly identifiably "Perry Ellis" in style, including the standout goat-skin blouson and velvet evening jacket. The Buffalo Bills receiver, Terrell Owens, was seated in front of me and based on his enthusiastic nodding, I expect that some of the looks are going to enjoy the spotlight yet again as TO discusses his latest performance on the field.
Elie Tahari A very Grosse Pointe Fabulous debut of the outwear label's first full collection of men's suits. What I loved about this modest first step towards a larger Elie Tahari presence in menswear was the inspired choice of a modern tonal plaid - one of the more original takes on plaid that stood out from the many collections I sat through all week...and left me wanting more.
Custo Barcelona If Fall 2010 is all about uniforms, then here is where the Rock Star or Super Villain will be suiting up. Custo dubbed his collection Hairy Metal, pairing metallics and fur throughout. Greys and blacks were sexed up with metal accents and shine, and his signature wild-print suits - which take an extremely confident fashionisto (or Super Villain) to pull off - were most welcome after what felt like a never-ending stream of drab neutrals on so many runways, providing a colorful palate-cleanser for the eyes.
Siki Im As part of the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation show, and later, during his own full presentation, Im showed layers upon layers of black and gray, including numerous looks with the men's skirt as the focal point. The downtown hipster kilt vibe had me rolling my eyes and muttering, "not skirts for men...again!" until Im's kimono cut version of a feudal Japanese longskirt - which gave me pause to consider whether I might actually like wearing skirt.
Petrou If the leather-chaps-and-teeth-knocked-out posse from Mad Max decided to take the night off from raping, pillaging and mayhem in order to ring in the Apocalpyse by going out for a Fabulous Cocktail, they would most likely wear something by Nicolas Petrou - a relative unknown, but possibly my favorite menswear collection from NYFW. "Nomads", Petrou's second collection, was inspired by found materials, and, like Custo Barcelona, touches of metal were used to good effect; in particular, gold and silver safety pins densely bunched together provided both texture and shine. On jacket lapels, the effect was a subtle shimmer; used as a design on a t-shirt, the appeal was eye-catching and sexy. A thrice-dyed blue tartan waistcoat helped further put Petrou on my personal radar screen as a menswear designer to keep an eye on.
- Mark Behnke
(runway photos via GQ.com)
[NOTE: the link to High&MightyUK was sponsored as of 8/29/11]
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