UNIFORMS, NOT UNIFORMITY
There’s a strong sense of discipline, democracy, necessity and flair present in a uniform — a feature celebrated at this season’s menswear runway presentations. The miller at Jacquemus and the military at Yohji Yamamoto; at Craig Green, a broad spectrum between athletic-wear and surgical-wear, and on a less vocational front, the uniform simply as a system of dressing at 3.1 Phillip Lim.
Comfort and functionality are key here. Green’s family comprises carpenters, plumbers, and upholsterers; his mum was a nurse. While this season’s collection made no explicit references to his personal lineage, the notion of workwear has always been a central tenet of his collections. Cross-body straps and wrapped belts allude to martial arts, while silhouettes in teal are reminiscent of scrubs and surgical gown worn by doctors. Similarly, Jacquemus, who grew up in the countryside in Provence, is from a family of farmers. His interest in uniforms come from his childhood-obsession with his uncle’s, who was an electrician. As a love letter to his upbringing, his family and as always, his country, Jacquemus brought the outdoor, utilitarian basics from the miler and the farmer’s workwear to his second menswear collection.
On more aesthetical fronts, there’s Yohji Yamamoto and 3.1 Phillip Lim. The former wanted to show “the highest class of soldier,” which led to his deconstructed take on military jackets. In a statement to Vogue, Lim denounced the general preconception towards uniforms as “monotonous”, highlighting that they are instead clever” as “they present a system of dressing that’s really infinite in possibilities” — offering utilitarian inspired basics that can be layered together or separately.
Maybe you grew up in the middle of nowhere with little else to do, with suburban neighbours and school mates whom you had little in common with. Maybe you were subject to mainstream society’s prejudices and failure to provide you with the support you needed. The list goes on. Despite their obvious injustices, being in the position of an ‘outsider’ does have its upsides. We’re not accustomed to patronising our readers with platitudes, but this season’s menswear collections by Acne Studios, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy and Rick Owens give credence to our statement.
Looking ahead and far beyond one’s own confines is certainly part of the ‘outsider’s’ innovative spirit. Being based in Stockholm, an ‘outsider’ city amidst the fashion world’s ‘Big Four’ (Paris, London, Milan, New York), and having grown up in Umeå, a town eight hours north of Stockholm, way outside of Stockholm, gave Jonny Johansson the freedom to combine a wide array of disparate elements into a single collection. From cow-print trousers as a reference to his upbringing and oversized silhouettes which evoke a late-mid-century bohemia, the collection doesn’t merely stay in one place.
On top of that, there’s the presence of a cultural figure or an icon who’s distant yet highly influential, allowing one to escape from their immediately reality. As a teenager growing up in Porterville, California, Rick Owens looked to Larry LeGaspi’s boldness served as a form of iconoclasm that was crucial to challenging the status quo, and bringing a form of unprecedented glam to suburban life. Owen’s takes cues from LeGaspi’s oeuvre, presenting strong shoulders, platform boots, and painted faces.
Then, there’s the figure who is physically present; assuming the role of the guardian, bringing together individuals who may have once been lost under one roof, fostering a sense of home and of community. Charles Jeffrey’s championing of the queer community by having friends collaborate in his shows and presenting looks free of inhibitions encourage the importance of sticking to your guns.
If you’re a romantic, a dreamer, or even just a little bit of an adventurer, you’ve probably had the desire to live out the narrative of a favourite film. Fashion’s longstanding love affair with film and its tendency to render the characteristics of a film’s symbols, setting and characters showed no sign of slowing down this season. At Marni, there were bright and vivid Dionysian printed-tops inspired by Bruno Bozzetto’s ‘Allegro Non Troppo’, a 1970s animated movie. Disheveled and disassembled was how Francesco Risso described the collection’s character, taking cues from the film which was a parody created in response to Disney’s Fantasia. Similar descriptors could be applied to Undercover’s collection, which included prints from Stanley Kubrick’s seminal film ‘A Clockwork Orange.’
Referenced to “express the idea of masculine fragility and the eroticism and ambiguities of male camaraderie,” Alessandro Dell’Acqua looked towards Querelle, the last film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The designer’s expression came in the form of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ fabric combinations symbolising the topic’s multidimensionality.
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