Paris has returned to fun, whimsical and albeit downright disturbing interpretations of menswear for the Spring/Summer 08 season, perhaps to the dismay and chagrin of many, though they have succeeded in challenging the status quo, which they say fashion is supposed to be anyway. Balenciaga left us with a series of modular sweaters, odd open toed lace up shoes and an eclectic collection of leather coats which often preferred a three/quarter length as opposed to the high waist, one typically associates with European fashion. Runway models wore bright silk boxers with suit coats poking fun at the establishment, which sort of rocks.
Viktor & Rolf mostly showed casual attire in pink and grey, eighties power colors that were showcased through an unusually slim silhouette that should encourage devotees to take off a good 50 to 75 pounds over the winter just to fit into some of their attire. What they have done, is bring nineties staples such as madras cotton, plaid trousers and striped sweaters into the future through loud eighties colors. This may elude some, but those who “get it” will mix and match, deconstruct the looks and tailor them through their own taste as opposed to copy the look from head to toe.
You can’t follow Viktor & Rolf without knowing where they’ve come from, which is their roots having worked for Martin Margiela. Traditional collections that are offered typically take a back seat to the look of stores that themselves have the appearance of an unfinished, hollowed out loft where the fashion “outsider” and the casual observer may assume that the design process has undergone a spiritual stream of consciousness continuum that you do not see in traditional mainstream men’s fashion.
In the meantime Yves Saint Laurent and Hermes desperately long to bring men’s fashion into the twenty-first century with the dilemma between presenting subdued elegance they exhibited in the past and pleasing a younger consumer who might not be impressed by the idea at all. Ah, to change with the times or to resist them; in any event, whether the fashion buying public is serious about entertaining ideas of men’s couture or taking on irreverent color schemes, is something that the designers are sure to learn when some of the collections hit the stores…
- Chris Kendalls