Watching the menswear shows online – as I have been doing over these opening four days of the autumn/winter 2014 Paris collections – is very different to observing them in flesh and fabric.
The question of clothing versus fashion fascinates me. Particularly in menswear, where even at the highest level the lines seem blurred. Clothing does what the name suggests. It clothes a body. But what does fashion do? It’s a noun and a verb. Perhaps fashion is about re-fashioning our bodies, or at least our perceptions of them. You could argue that’s what the pourpoint did – the fourteenth-century foundation garment worn beneath plate armour, heavily-padded on the chest to fill out the convex breastplate, which is acknowledged by many as the starting point of true fashion. Namely, when humans began to use the cut of the cloth to radically alter the shape of the human form. It still clothed the body, of course. But it also did something more. And it was worn by men.
I’ve been a fan of Francesco Russo ever since he took the helm of the Italian accessories label Sergio Rossi. In fact, unbeknownst to me, I was a fan of him before that, when he designed the Tribute shoe for Yves Saint Laurent back in 2006. Thinking back, that was kind of a defining moment, not just for Russo, but for noughties footwear generally. It was certainly a shoe that launched a million knock-offs.
It’s difficult to buy a bag, as a man. Very, very difficult. And it’s not because people aren’t pitching for your cash. Far from it. We featured manbags alongside the glad rags in the men’s fashion special of the Independent Magazine for autumn/winter 2013, because they have grown in visibility and in importance.
Kate Moss has been appointed a contributing fashion editor to British Vogue. She sits alongside Bay Garnett, Clare Richardson and Kate Phelan on the masthead. What’s the major difference between those names? Well, three are fashion editors, contributing to the title. And the other… is Kate Moss.
Can we take a moment to talk about Prada? I take quite a few of those on a daily basis actually, but the brand has been especially active of late. I’m not talking about their spring 2014 fashion show, although as ever it was season-defining. Today the label revealed their collaboration with Damien Hirst. It’s kind of a counterpart to Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with the Chapman Brothers that I wrote about a month or so ago. In that its most obvious physical embodiment is a handbag.
Faye Toogood is known as a designer. She’s primarily known for object design – sets, environments, that sort of thing. Not clothes. But then again, clothes are another environment to exist in. So it’s a natural development for her to look at those too. Especially when her sister Erica is a pattern-cutter and fashion designer.
Over-thought, overlooked and afterthoughts. A few more from the French spring/summer 2014 collections
Have you ever eaten an eighteen-course French meal and passed out from the exertion? No, me neither. Apparently when they autopsied Louis XIV his stomach was three times the size of an average man. Sometimes it feels a bit like that during Paris fashion week. You feel bloated, stuffed, saturated. It’s with fashion, rather than food. The latter is thin on the ground, bar the ubiquitous croques.
I love a train-spotting fashion collection. The Louis Vuitton show contained echoes from Marc Jacobs collections past – and not just in the set. Although that was the most obvious. Models rounded the fountains from winter 2010, went up the lifts from winter 2011, along the corridor of hotel rooms from winter 2013, past the train station clock of winter 2012, down the escalators of spring 2013, past the carousel of spring 2012, up, down, back around. You were giddy by the end of it all.
Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent shows the trickiness of trickle up rather than trickle down, as well as being referential but not reverential. Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel, by contrast, was a masterpiece of really, really great clothes. Simple.
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