Pitti Uomo this year had a section dedicated specifically to african designers titled AFRICAN CONSTELLATION. Now being a trade show, showing at Pitti Uomo as a brand is a great exposure and that is where I discovered this gem of a brand surprised at myself how this genius of a label was hidden for so long. What many designers are pretty much cautious to venture into, is the very essence of this brand’s core foundation; prints for menswear.
House Of Holland
No one was more happy than me when Henry Holland announced his menswear debut. Whenever Henry used to step out in one of his own, I always used to wish that he ventured into menswear…and now.. Yayyeee!!! It is almost EXACTLY like I would have imagined Henry Holland menswear would be bringing his fun colorful sensibilities that we are used to within his menswear. The cheeky text Read the rest of this entry »
Can only do so much
High street brand like Levis while introducing its products does not veer away from what it is. Even bringing on stylists like Rana and Ayaz, who can only do so much, Introducing yet another denim, Levis kept the look and feel of the show their usual self. Read the rest of this entry »
Hopping onto the technology bandwagon was the newly engaged Masaba for her latest collection ‘Sugar Plum’. Where most designers have been shying away from inviting bloggers and kin to the shows in order to delay the piracy of design, trust Masaba to take the road less travelled. She not only presented a candified collection but updated it live on instagram feed for millions of viewers to watch in the comfort of their own space. The collection harked back to the Masaba’s own colorful roots of her earlier collections with her signature bold prints in mini flared skirts, tiny cropped tops, printed piped shirts all in candy colours. While I wasn’t too sure of the Popsicle print used, the florescent triangle prints were my favorite. Also was the much more cutesy candy clutch carried by the showstopper Nargis. Another favorite was the long white shirt with the pants and a long dress with print and brown solid and a yellow turban (mimicking the sweet print itself). Some fun stuff but Masaba we have seen you do better and you have raised the bar of expectations pretty high which you exceed everytime, but this one. But that’s ok..tomorrow is always another day.
Quirkbox is one of those brands who do tend to sort of keep me on the edge as to what will they come up with next. Everytime they showcase, I go like they have exhausted all options, what next? and they do come up with something. This time around finding inspiration in the city of Delhi, Quirkbox tried to map the spirit of the colorful city onto the clothes within their own aesthetics. Vehicals, buildings and landmark things all made an appearance within the prints that were used within some fun silhouettes ranging from jackets and dresses to jumpsuits and shorts. What I liked about the fact was that the pieces could be taken off from any look and paired with another but essentially give off a similar vibe. The collection was pretty much seamless and each piece (not look) could be taken off and styled to any individualistic tastes. While I wasn’t too sure of the copter prints (they seemed a bit immature compared to rest of the much developed prints) Quirkbox even made it look good by pairing it with the colorful jacket of prints of a building which I absolutely loved.
Good boy gone bad
High on drama, Kunal Rawal’s one of the prominent things was an introduction of a reflective fabric that was used. Starting off as spunky menswear featuring badass prints blending into a much more eastern silhouettes with a dark and edgy look. Tees, Jackets, hoodies, drop crotch pants merged into Kurtas bandhgalas and sherwanis featuring in a multitude of prints, solids and embellished treatements. The geometric print vests were another major highlight of the show. While I was vary of one of the looks of a printed dhoti with a jacket, the designer brought a cool edgy vibe to the desi menswear succeeding to a certain degree. Imagine a desi bad boy who is sophisticated and pays importance to his looks.
For a designer who has probably trend setted beach wear with his goan aesthetics in India, I was rather disappointed with the Wendell Rodrick’s latest offering. The same old color blocks, the bold colors, the beachy silhouettes, the designer could have designed this collection in his sleep. With his similar aesthetics, it was nothing like we have not seen from the designer in the past therefore I probably expected more from him than the usual fare. Anyone familiar with his work could tell it was him without batting an eyelid and not because of the design philosophy. It was more like Rodricks dejavu all over again!!
Strictly come Charming
Sharp tailoring, a bit of HSY moment with the Tee boys and a bit of Nauman Arfeen thrown in with interjection of womenswear within a menswear collection, Raghuvendra Rathode’s collection had its moments and roller coaster variations. While there were suits and sherwanis alike, the color palatte seem to fluctuate from pastels to sharper tones to finally ending a on a sophisticated palette. However one thing that could not be overlooked was the certain charm and the impeccable suave vibe the collection had for the modern man, almost an answer to Sabyasachi’s modern royal woman. While the interjection of womenswear seemed odd (why do designers do that!!) it did not take away from the whole collection, thankfully!! Simple, clean and very fuss free (not drama free), that is what worked in Rathode’s favor playing with different fabrics and exercising control over not going the usual embroidered route.
Ah! the veterans.. Pankaj and Nidhi have this thing about them. Everytime anyone tries to slot them in, they come up with something that is essentially them within aesthetic and design philosophy but removed from their last outing. This time around for spring, while their collection featured signature applique and cutwork, the silhouette seemed much more relaxed than usual. Furthermore was the use of pastels in powder blues and mint greens to poppy tones of corals, limes and neon yellows. What was also interesting was that, as far as I have seen their work, this was the first time the designer duo dabbled in black and white bold graphic prints though it wasn’t far from their aesthetic nature of how to go about it. Presenting an interesting mix of things with graphics, pastels and poppy colors, the collection’s range seemed to have something for everyone. Dresses, seperates, jackets all made an appearance within familiar and interesting silhouettes that were perfect for summers. While it lacked the usual ‘punch’ that is usually associated with them in terms of contrasting elements, I think there was a conscious effort on their part to move away from their usual self.
*Images by Sagar Ahuja and House of Masaba
I know … I know I was meant to review the collections from LCM and I know its pretty late in the day. But my apologies for that. For those who don’t know LCM is London Collection: Men, a fashion week dedicated solely to Menswear. Designers especially those in London do make it a point to have a presentation. While this time around the Fashion Week was a bit low key, needless to say it wasn’t without it’s major high points.
Tom Ford deems it extremely difficult to change up evening wear menswear, one challenge that he triumphs everytime he ventures into a presentation of menswear. While it was not a runway show for him at LCM, Tom Ford has made it a point of showcasing his outfits through a personal appointment, primarily because of counterfiet. His collection, undoubtedly was sexy and a straight up nod to the sixties with optical illusions and patterns in a black and white palette. Successfully combining leather with evening wear as well as playing up on jackets with the shearling trend (you’d be surprised at the amount of designers who showcased this 70s trend) for upcoming winters in the northern hemisphere, Tom ford’s collection was visually stunning and immaculately made. From tailored fits to oversized coats with drainpipe pants, he nailed his latest outing for AW15.
Never the one afraid to make a statement, Christopher Shannon’s latest offering seemed more like a social comment on the social standing of many people struggling to make ends meet. From taglines of Save me and Broke with trash adorned as headgear and some interpretation of garments as st-ripped plastic bag coming apart at seams, the collection made an observational comment on the conditions of the not so elite population. He combined the trash with loads of sportswear references. Oversized, Ripping apart or Cinched at waist (yes his corsets did make it to the runway), his collection hinted at the irony of speaking up for those who wouldn’t be able to afford it, while being expensive within its commerce. We don’t get to see much of these statements on runway these days let alone for menswear.
The chic set, the live singer and a modern approach, the Burberry brand under Christopher Bailey has come quite a long way. This time around with a chic boho vibe to the collection, Burberry’s presentation within closed walls and indoors was a picture of luxe approach that the brand is known for. The Classically Bohemian collection hit quite a few high notes esp. for me since it was somewhat I personally like. Part boho, part chic, the pieces were relaxed, the silhouettes slightly upsized and with a generous amount of accents and pops within the ensemble. Rich tones, printed accents, fringed shawls (that green look was a-mazing) all came together for an outing of glam with a bohemian twist. Heck he even did leopard well in some of the garments (and no I still am not personally inclined towards leopard print… ever… unless done extremely well). From print on print to model sporting mirror worked shirts and scarves, this was one well travelled urban gypsy that made waves on the runway. However even in his Bohemian outing, Bailey’s twist on classics does lean on it too to provide that offset a perfect grounding to make that impact. What I liked… solids paired with prints, printed seperates, the green suited look with luxurious fringed shawl…pretty much almost everything
The design team at Topman knows their commercial game all too well that they send down the runway a whole journey of looks covering a wide base of range that could later be trickled down in their stores. They know you need to amp it up for the runway and they do it how. Going the Bombay Rollers theme, the collection’s sixties theme was pretty evident within its presentation. With the psychedelic patterns running in the backdrop, I wonder if they went on a bit of Dum Maaro Dum journey… heehehe. The collection with its coming together of silhouettes from opposing ends of the world came together from capes and jacket to hippie prints. Graduating into plaid looks and shearling jackets, the Bay Rollers band inspiration played all too well within the collection. However the designers were careful not to present and overtly costumey collection. Particularly with menswear a slight alteration in fit or a centimeter or two more within that flare of hem and it would have been a disaster and that is where the brand scored. Exercising immense control over it’s ensembles, one could already see how the pieces would translate within the store as seperates. The brand held its own amongst the ‘designer’ giants with a precision and restraint that was impressive to every thread count.
Part American Hustle, Part modern day dandy, J.W.Anderson’s collection oozed a lot of 70’s with its silhouettes and presentation along with his mishmash of references from the past. From flared trousers, extra large collars, corduroy jackets to seude coats, trim shearlings on jackets and and oversized silhouettes, Anderson unapologetically borrows from past and is not afraid to display his references. From that to evoking the turn of the 19th century dandy with solid colored suits and fringed scarves, Anderson’s devil may care attitude was pretty evident in his slew of ensembles that echoed bygone eras. The one to have fun with fashion, his collection was hard to slot … a perfect setting that went with his notes of ‘a free thinker with an interest in pataphysics (a prankish pseudo philosophy)’. With an intriguing quality that is hard to achieve as a designer to leave his audience with questions and discussions who the collection was for makes up for an interesting intentional feat to achieve where there is always a margin to look amatuer or look like it was put up in last few minuntes… If one was to go by his word, he definitely did not let his audience inhabit a comfort space for too long regarding his presentation as his ensembles made their way down the runway, keeping them guessing for who it was for…a futuristic vintage man (if there is any such) maybe!!! Who’s to say!
Capturing the cenetary moment of World War I within the AW15 Collection for men, Sarah Burton at Mcqueen weaved history within fashion. With military as her reference points and all encompassing details… from epaulets to medals.. the whole hog but with a certain chic aesthetic. From jackets with boldly embroidered texts to pinstripe suits, Burton played upon the classic british uniform for men in all its glam. The poppies that were sent down the moat of Tower of London, as a remembrance, were used in abundance as a recurring motif. While I wasn’t too keen on the poppy trims that made for an ‘X’ on the models, however when rendered in silk jacquard for suits and coats for an overall effect made for a winning look. A play upon the armor with rose on the front of a three piece suit seemed to represent a sacred-ness of sorts of a protective breastplate like tiraz bands and calligraphic vests for Ottomans. It was melancholic with a dash of comment on the present times where war seems to be one of the major omnipresent thoughts.
PRINGLE OF SCOTLAND
Massimo Nicosia of Pringle of scotland believes in availing the opportunity of utilizing techniques both old and new (whatever he can get his hands into) within his collection. Approaching knitwear not in the usual way thus then results in an ensemble that is luxe and unusual. Manifesting design techniques and investigating into other areas, the brand pushes boundaries within knitwear construction by meshing for example 3D printing and knitting together. Be it being inspired by old tapestry, working with old looms or incorporating futuristic methods, the collection had a variety of chunky cardigans, coats, jackets in a chic avatar sent down the runway. What probably was of a personal visual interest was the fact he combined leather and knit, the clash, effortlessly within a single ensemble. Restrained and spiffy, this was definitely the modern day urban brit down the runway. My fav pieces had to be the salt n pepper cardigan and the tapestry inspired knits.
AGI & SAM
Probably one of the most talked about collection this LCM, Agi & Sam’s latest offering was one for the extremes. You either loved it or hated it. Playing upon their childhood memories, the collection was a deconstruction of their nostalgia of sorts sent down the runway which seemed to be styled such that it had its high and low moments within the short span of the presentation. Probably the most talked about pieces has to be their lego inspired head and face pieces that adorned the models. The duo known for their love for prints (definitely did not disappoint in that regards) and tailored menswear went the deconstructed route with their fall outing. Looser and wider silhouette with cropped pants dominated their collection. The prints and knits were permutations of VHS covers and prescription drug packaging that had been merged then given to children, who painted their own versions. I for one, found myself lusting after many of the pieces esp the coats. They were statement pieces that were bold, brazen and unapologetically brave… the kids definitely say the darnedest things
Harking back to traditional techniques, roots and tailoring it was all about looking in the past via a different lens than what many others did this LCM for Hardy Amies. While many looked at different eras, Mehmet Ali from Hardy Amies focused on perfecting the art with a modern outlook. Inspired by his trekking, the collection had climber’s tube rope running through the collection as a common thread. Be it as graphics on flannel or woven in. Combining tailoring and knitwear with intense layering looking impeccable and non fussy, with a nonchalant vibe in some looks. The brand looked back at its tailoring which was bang on point, impeccable and finessed to perfection in very british fabrics. Going through the tested waters, the designer used traditional, teasel-brushed wool, a more or less obsolete technique. Who said you needed to shock in order to make a statement… get yourself pieces from Hardy Amies.
Lots of color, scrabble prints, cropped pants, cheeky tees and texture was what all Kit Neale’s collection all about. A fun affair with bursty color palette, Kit Neale’s collection embraced color in its entirety. While the pork pie hats in color pop shades provided the perfect accessory, the doc martens and forest green nodded the upcoming season. With an explosive array of typographic prints, Neale’s alphabet print pants were the one’s that garnered much applause for me. However it cannot be ruled out that with his take on single breasted suit, paired with shorts in print was quite an effort to turn tradition on its head. Bomber jackets and patched typo pieces evoked a bit of 90s and in parts childlike pre-teen inspired adventure life that played wonderfully with the youthful vibe of the show. With some statement jewels showing up at occasion during the presentation, imparted a bit of a rebel vibe with a taste.
When a designer twists tailoring onto its head with an impeccable outing, you are bound to sit up and take notice. With its angled look and geometric lines, the construction by Carlo Brandelli is futuristic and contemporary while adhering to the Savile Row brand Kilgour. Playing up with the construction in its truest form, Brandelli manipulated the lapels and peaks within the traditional definition of ‘suit’ playing up with the recognizable shape and form yet giving it a futuristic edge. It is that cultural conversation of tradition versus contemporary that Brandelli seems to be wanting to explore with his set of design aesthetics with which he derived this collection. Almost wanted me to have these star in the Divergent series. Turning tradition inside out, the designer reconstructed the suit with a contemporary language that has all the potentials of turning into a modern day classic.
Following a pink precedent set by designer legends like Westwood, an ode to the british wild child of the boarding school, made up for a perfect theme for the collection. The pink short suits, blazers and jackets (striped ones were my fav), rebelliously laid back tied ties, pink shearling effect and pink constructed and ripped knits.. one of my favs was also the crumpled brown-paper-effect short suit. The pink and black collection with pink hair, biker jackets and use of leather also hinted at a nod to the punk. The Play School collection referred to the childhood nostalgia through the naively knitted oversized teddy bears that hung from models lapels and shoulders that added to drama of the pink power. The part hip, part brit and part punk collection byt the trio designers definitely made pink THE color of the season.
With an all clear or rather almost all black palette, Ada + Nik’s AW15 outing definitely gave me what I expected of the designers. With their signature design aesthetic in place, the nascent brand, with very experienced backing designers showed what possibly could be the future of the hipster look. Going for a much polished and minimal approach they kept the hip essence within the pieces with a contemporary outlook. There was a cleverness even within their strategy of keeping things simple. From tunics to bomber jackets, longline coats, biker jackets and tops in a variety of tech materials reflected an evolution of the brand’s signature outerwear. Heck they even showed the ‘Narrative Jacket’ – the world’s first leather jacket with in-built camera, in collaboration with the Narrative Clip to capture photos and location data without conscious interaction, breaking the fourth wall in the art of storytelling. Playing up with textures they used layered velvet sneaker net, showerproof tech fabrics, crease free memory cotton, sustainably intelligent cotton ribs and luxury airtex. One also got to see the oversized sweater (this trend seems to be for the keeps) looks as well as some interesting shaped pants. The NOIR DESIR collection was both statement and luxury while referencing the notion of Greco Roman meets 1970s British Punk culture. A masterclass in a constructed hipster chic look.
*Images belong to their respective owners
Where the wild things are
With a match made in fashion heaven of outhouse jewelry and Mohsin Ali for Sana Safinaz, the collection that was about all wild things and translated into luxury pret ensembles. Mohsin brought in a certain sense of bravery within this offering from the house of Sana Safinaz flexing his muscles into a well established brand. While a few Haider Ackerman moments ensued, Mohsin pretty much nailed the collection with interesting drapes, some deliciously dark and luxe color palette and unusual embellishments. Barring any usual evening wear outing, he went for boxy silhouettes, oversized boyfriend shirts, suits and tops that could easily be seperated or synced in together. Inspired by wild jungle, the prints in greens and browns accented off with unexpected purples and lapiz blues and bright oranges were a perfect delicacy for the winters. The collection had quite a few wrapped shrugs and tops, fuller printed skirts and the power suits, esp the printed one meant that this woman meant some serious fashion business. The fierce collection was complimented by equally fiery accessory pieces by Outhouse jewelry. The quirky pieces added a lot of character and depth to an already fun ensembles and were a perfect match that added onto the look. The evocative, sensuous and delectable collection was one of the major highlights of the fashion week.
Bang Bang Tang
The only Lahore designer Faraz Manan to showcase at the fashion week, Faraz’s collection had me over the fence whether to completely like it or not. While it had some interesting pieces, the shanghai-ness seemed to be missing. He played with quite a few sheer, distressed and his favorite pretty bling details in tops dresses, seperates, jackets, crop tops and skirts. While he was in his usual luxe element, the pieces esp the ones paired with distressed denim could have been styled much better. There were quite a few moment that I did feel that I have seen so much better work from him. With some brilliant highs, there were a few basic (pun intended) lows that just could not match up to the peaks in the presentation. However all was not lost in the process. The chevron gunmetal wrap dress was completely lust worthy. He picked the right shade and the perfect pattern. The gunmetal bandhgala was another winner. Not many people do pink jacket well, he for one did it, one that makes me want to own one just because his was soo well made (could have been styled better though).
What has Nauman Arfeen not shown in menswear that he has not showcased before. Known for his classic approach towards eastern menswear, Arfeen remained true to his element this time in tones of browns and blacks presenting a modern yet traditionally rooted nawabi collection. While I partly expected him to go much more contemporary after his last showing of blues and browns, he did remain in his zone for the most part of his presentation while experimenting withing that arena. . While I was ok with the black ones, one of the pieces was odd with a fringe arm band detail, and another one without an inner to the sherwani (that exposed shalwar pants was not a good idea) and the some of the embroidered pieces needed to be toned down heavily from their nineties-ness.The browns and bronzes fared better showing quite a bit range in graded printed jackets and print on print suit that were an absolute favorite and almost a perfect compliment to Sabyasachi’s modern maharani gayatri devi interpretation (here). I would definitely like the designer to step out a bit more even though it is fair enough considering the desi man is not that experimental, but unless he is offered something, how would he know unless he tries.
*Images courtesy Tapu Javeri and his team.
P.S. A shoutout to Latitude PR for keeping things running smoothly and remarkably on time breaking myths of shows not being able to end before 11pm.. not a mean feat.