It’s a testament to the place that menswear now occupies within the fashion industry that so many male models graced the catwalks of New York and London for the past couple weeks.
Indeed seeing women at the men’s fashion weeks has become somewhat unavoidable, as brands at best try to push their pre-collections and at worst try to provide filler looks for unsubstantial menswear offerings.
But until the last couple of years it was still a rarity to see men at the women’s shows, or if there were, they were merely arm candy. Swap a bag for a man. Things however are changing.
With gender loosing relevance in the way that people dress (or think of themselves) we might very well be heading into a more gender equal era of runway shows. On a more cynical note, what better way for a brand to publicize a well-rounded product offering than with a dual-gendered fashion show?
Hood by Air has been ahead of the curve since its inception. The Shayne Olivier-led label has never much cared for gender binaries and has always promoted a post-gender, post-race agenda to great success. If there is a brand of the 21st century this is certainly it and Spring 16 was as on point as ever. Inspired by school uniforms, this collection felt more polished than usual, HBA’s flair for deconstructivism extending from streetwear to suiting. The looks had a certain editorial quality to them and you would readily imagine some of the silkier pieces in the pages of Vogue (why not?).
Up-and-comer Devon Halfnight LeFlufy is emerging as one of the most interesting voices in menswear at the moment. Born in Canada but trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, his work is reminiscent of Belgian greats Raf Simons and mentor Walter Van Beirendock. Prone to developing new textiles, LeFlufy explores ideas of youth and subcultures. One of the show’s standout piece was an overcoat featuring a collage of rave and party scenes. It felt very much like a meta comment on the age of social media. As we scroll through hundreds of images daily via Instagram, Tumblr and the like much of what we see is forgotten almost instantly, as quickly as it takes to take a picture. There is poetry in the fact of taking these images and giving them a longer lifespan. It also points the finger at our generation’s antithetic nostalgiamania and constant craving for newness.
Finally, over in London, Ashish presented one of the most engaging shows of the season so far. It was fun and political all at once and proved that fashion can sometimes be very witty. The show opened with models rolling in on skateboards and what followed was a parade of colored glitter and sequins. Humor in fashion can easily veer towards silliness but this was just plain ol’ fun. Arguably only three male models walked the show but their looks had the most impact. Walking in tandem DJ Larry B and Jay Boogie were the epitomy of the party scene power couple. The former later reappeared wearing heels and a nude slip dress with all the right “parts” printed on it, surely a nod to cultural phenomenon Caitlyn Jenner. More accessible, a toga-like denim jumsuit also looked very appealing.
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