New York Fashion Week has always celebrated the glamour of women's fashion, but has relegated menswear to a supporting role. This week, building on a growing public appetite for men's fashion, the industry is putting on the first stand-alone men's fashion week in New York in nearly two decades (a brief attempt fizzled in the late '90s.) Here are some highlights of New York Fashion Week: Men's.
AT RAG & BONE, CLOTHES TO DO FLIP TURNS IN
Designers Marcus Wainwright and David Neville of Rag & Bone want their customers to be free to move. To really, really move, like when you're doing running flip turns in the air, or climbing up the side of a building.
The duo took the inspiration for their menswear collection, presented Tuesday in a Chelsea gallery space, from parkour, an extreme sport that combines elements from martial arts, gymnastics and rock climbing. A film clip showed a group of extremely well dressed young practitioners in Brooklyn, doing things most humans could never attempt.
Among the guests examining the clothes, sipping cocktails or munching on mini-burgers were Victor Cruz of the New York Giants and model-actor Tyson Beckford — both ambassadors for New York Fashion Week: Men's. Also attending was fashion-conscious Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade.
Neville explained that movement and street style were both essential to the brand.
"Key influences for us have always been this sort of marriage between tailoring, street, military — these are the themes that we've built the DNA of our brand on. Parkour, this urban kind of gymnastics, actually has roots in the military."
The clothes on display — fitted not onto models, but onto structures that looked like life-sized hangers — were heavy on movable fabrics, as in featherweight nylons.
"It's important that there's movement in the clothes and in the fabric choices," Neville said. "It has that sense of performance."
Neville added that a stand-alone men's fashion week — the first in New York in 17 years, though they've been standard in Europe — was great for the industry, and especially for up-and-coming designers.
"I think it's great for the young New York men's designers," he said. "They have this platform to be able to showcase what they're doing. Hopefully it puts an emerging spotlight on New York men's brands, and I think it's great that certain of the bigger men's brands have decided to come back and show in New York. There's a really good energy here around men's fashion."
CLASSIC OFFICE ATTIRE, BOTH RETRO AND FUTURISTIC, AT THOM BROWNE
For most designers, "uniformity" would hardly be a goal. But Thom Browne, both a great technician and a great showman, happily embraces the concept in his new collection of men's suits.
"Yes, we're celebrating uniformity," Browne said backstage at a Chelsea gallery, where his classic, cropped-leg suits were on display inside a mirrored cube that resembled an office, retro and futuristic at the same time. "The suit is every guy's uniform."
Observers were ushered slowly into the cube, actually a small room with mirrored floor, walls and ceiling. In the centre was a classic office desk, upon which sat an old-fashioned typewriter, a pair of scissors and a stapler — the "old-school" office, Browne quipped (no laser printers or scanners anywhere.) Everything was in bright, shiny silver, except of course for the models in their dark sunglasses and their suits in various shades of grey, hems above the ankle in signature Browne style. It was a little like "Mad Men" meets Stanley Kubrick.
Browne explained that this new collection — aptly named "the officeman" — was also a celebration of his new role as tailor-shop owner. Three months ago, he bought the Queens factory of his longtime master tailor Rocco Ciccarelli, bringing the operation in-house. Soon, he plans to move it into midtown Manhattan. "Having my own tailor shop is something I've always wanted to do," he said.
Browne's famous suits will be Made in New York, he notes, by the tailors he deems the best in the world.
"It's a story everyone needs to know," he said.
UNUSUAL SUSPECTS FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL
The hot young brand Public School put its models in glassed rooms for a series of jailhouse lineups.
"No. 3, step forward," a recorded voice commanded at one point during the packed presentation. He obliged.
The spring/summer 2016 collection in the brand's signature palette of black, white, grey and navy was a mix of athletic details with crisp tailored trousers — short and long — and lapelled jackets — sleeveless and not. Slouchier jackets and pullovers had windowpane detailing.
The solids were broken up by a few plaid shirts, and designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne showed off the brand's PS platform leather sneakers in black and white.
Chow said the two wanted to take the brand back to its New York roots. Asked about the jailhouse theme, he joked in an AP interview: "These are the unusual suspects."
More seriously, Chow said the theme included looks that evoked the brand's basic uniform but "in a backdrop where you might normally see or expect to see something else, a group of people who have been contextualized and marginalized in this particular setting."
He added: "The message is about solidarity and unity, especially in these times that, you know, when you are lined up side by side, no one is better or worse than the person standing next to them."
Dwyane Wade, his wife Gabrielle Union, Joe Jonas, Darren Criss and Jesse Metcalfe were among celebs who took in the show.
— Leanne Italie and Gina Abdy
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This story has been corrected to show the first name of the Miami Heat star attending New York Fashion Week: Men's is Dwyane Wade, not Dwayne.Suggest a correction