Elegance. Thom Browne Pre-Fall 2020

Thom Browne‘s pre-fall 2020 is at his gender-blurring best. “I love the sensibility of it being so beautifully masculine; but on a girl, I think there’s something beautifully feminine about it too,” he said of an ultra-high waist held up by suspenders, pleats so sharp they draw shadows, and shoulders shaped with the gentlest slope. The black tuxedo, which closed the look-book, is most seductive look of the entire collection. But for those who aren’t always impeccably elegant suit & tie fans, Browne also shows his “fun” side: take the skirt and jacket incrusted with a giraffe worn with a matching coat for an example. Style the look with argyle socks and quirky shoes, and here you’ve got the edgy-snobby, polished-kind-of-look you can only get from Thom Browne.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Petite Taille. No21 SS17

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This wasn’t a usual menswear collection coming from No21. No runway, but a look-book, plus a showroom presentation; unexpectedly, relaxed and colourful; and a brave idea coming up on the horizon. Alessandro Dell’AcQua introduced his spring-summer 2017 collection in a brief, yet convincing way: “It’s not about genderless manifestos, cross-dressing, unisex style,” he said in his showroom. “It’s not the borrowed-from-the-boys trite stereotype either. Girls are girls: If they’d like to have a piece from my men’s collection, they can have it in the right fit. I’m just being practical here.” And this is how a new line of No21 sets off, called No21 Petite Taille. Simply speaking, it’s not another gender-fluid project, which tries to knock off Eckhaus Latta – it’s a service that will let the female part of No21 clients buy men clothes, but in scaled down sizing. From one side, there’s a reason why women take their boyfriends’ or husbands’ clothes – undoubtedly, it has this “spark” of being in a relationship, right?; from another, it makes it all easier, as the clothes don’t look too over-sized, too mannish. For now, the new line seems quite exciting, and predictably, other brands might do the same. But time will show, whether girls are willing to sacrifice their love for real, real menswear.

It’s surely not the first time, when a menswear collection makes space for womenswear, and in Milan, it’s alrady a tradition with Gucci and Prada. Dell’AcQua makes the boys’ wardrobe less complicated, less layered, but filled with revisited, daily essentials. The word cool plays a role this season for the Italian designer.  “We cast a young cool boy and a girl. They could be friends, lovers, brother and sister—doesn’t matter. No makeup artist and no hairdresser, and they chose their clothes themselves directly from the racks. I wanted it to feel natural, carefree, real.” The effect is just like Alessandro wanted it to be – laid-back, Hawaii varsity jackets, bold parkas, floral details mixed with colourful checks and Elvis t-shirts are only some examples of the most energetic pieces, for the boys, and for Petite Taille. However, it’s not No21 without lace, which was used in a variety of shirts. Still, it’s slouchy and chill, without being pretentious.

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Men’s – Calm Men. Wales Bonner SS17

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Grace Wales Bonner, 25, the London-based menswear designer, has been announced as LVMH Prize 2016 winner (along Vejas Kruszewski, who won the second prize), gaining the a major back-up for her eponymous brand. But in fact that’s just one of the reasons I’m writing about her today. The latter is her latest, break-through outing during London Fashion Week, which is pure poetry. When creating her label, Bonner’s main aim was to break the stereotype of black male fashion as aggressive, popularly seen in posture of hip-hop sweatpants and rapper’s gold chains. Wales Bonner’s work focuses on black male sexuality, unconventional masculine identity, and mainly afro-American cultural experience.

With a background of growing up in South East London and having a Jamaican dad, Grace looks forward to show the masses a new diversity in fashion, but from a totally different perspective – it’s much calmer, gentler, not as bold as in Stella Jean‘s way. This season, she was inspired particularly by Ethiopia’s emperor from the 30s, Haile Selassie, who was famous for blurring the African rituals with his own, military coronations and “style”. Tailoring, the season’s ultimate highlight, was embellished with crystals, all in traditional crotchet and meticulous embroidery. Her decorated, slightly dandy-ish men are accompanied by female models, who wear similarly androgynous pieces – gender fluidity is nothing new to us in London. But according to Wales Bonner’s vision, male beauty becomes something much more unexpected, yet highly signature. Her debut runway show was a bomb – and with LVMH’s funds, Grace will surely keep doing her thing.

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Men’s – Gender Culture. Casely-Hayford SS17

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The father-and-son duo, Joe and Charlie Casely-Hayford, have many reasons to call spring-summer 2016 collection one of the biggest highlights of their career up to date. What pleasantly surprised everyone during the show was the fact that the fash-fam introduced a womenswear capsule, accompanying their festival-cool menswear looks. “We’ve been asked about doing it for years,” said Charlie. “Now felt right. We want to dress a woman who is a partner to the Casely-Hayford man—but she is very much independent and different to him too.” Their debut in the world of women was like the feeling of a breeze by the sea, so refreshing. Jacquard, which was used in coats production, was made with a more than 200-years old weaving mill, while the dresses with knitted details in sharp, summer-y colours, will be the right choice for warm days. Casely-Hayford is known for top-notch tailoring, but in contrast to their Savile Row friends who do strictly elegant suits, this label breaks the well-known conventions. No wonder why the women’s part was as focused on perfectly-cut blazers as men’s, and was equally edgy. The moodboard behind the collection was filled a variety of British music movements, from 70s rock and Jimi Hendrix to 00s grime and Mick Jagger. With all that diversity in mind, there was a sharp game of oriental patterns, paisley, bleach splashes and tie-dye textiles. Also, spot the richness of jewellery – tribal necklaces and pendants (which looked like great, flea-market finds) were worn nonchalantly by both genders with embroidered robe-coats and denim jackets. Looking forward to see how Joe and Charlie will continue their new, even more daring chapter in fashion!

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Spiritual Unisex. Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood AW16

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Vivienne Westwood opens a new chapter in her fashion – and it’s called Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood. But who is Andreas? No, he isn’t a one-season-only collaborator. He’s Viveinne’s life-partner and her right hand in designing collections, and after many years of their creative reciprocation, Westwood decided to sign her main line’s collections with her love’s surname, too. How romantic. Just as romantic, as the beautiful, deep shade of red on toga-style draping and monkish pants from the autumn-winter 2016 season! Although the collection’s name, Sexercize, might be associated with the British dame’s past (SEX boutique in the heart of London, Kate Moss in boudoir corsets), it was rather about spirituality and gender fluidity. Both women and men wore platform boots, and the oriental manskirts made a cut. Just like the tiny, brass “penis” necklaces (by coincidence, we are heaving a little sex talk with Viv and Comme des Garçons today…), styled with masculine suits or feminine, lamé dresses. The collection, coming from Westwood’s and Kronthaler’s hearts, is full of styling tips, and as the Vivienne stated, “it’s really incredible – look at the amount of innovation!”

Cheers to these two lovebirds!

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