Opinion On: SS18 Menswear Shows

Although I don't think I have fully developed my style, I have developed a very particular taste. After looking at some of the collections from the recent Menswear shows in London, Florence, Milan, Paris and New York, I have pulled together a list of my favorite shows and have featured my favorite look for each in the gallery above. 

Undercover SS18

First let's start with Undercover, for me, this is an incredible collection. A lot of designers at the moment are implementing wider pants, but personally, I have and always will be a fan of a slim/skinny jean. The denim featured here reminds me a lot of the SS15 Marquee Moon jeans, with the intricate patchwork, or maybe even the grail status SS03 Scab jeans. Now let's talk about the one thing featured in every look, the Soviet-inspired caps. Now, this isn't the type of hat you see every day, but this is a piece that could really add that certain element of individuality to an outfit if one is willing to pull it off.  Of course, we need to talk about the collaboration with Cream Soda, who is celebrating their 50th Anniversary, and although founder Masayuki Yamazaki has passed away, Takahashi has beautifully executed their look here. With Takahashi being closed with Yamazaki's family, and the overall aesthetic of Cream Soda matching this collection, it couldn't make more sense. The overall collection makes me think of the Dirty Kids, a group of homeless, nomadic youth who hitchhike in freight trains across the country, this is because of the nods to Japanese train workers as well as the looks featuring patterned sleeping pads strapped to backpacks, with the colorful jump boots completing the look. To criticize the collection a little though, I am not a fan of the overly long tour inspired t-shirts, but overall it is an incredible collection and reminds me of some of Takahashi's older work.

 

Yohji Yamamoto SS18

This season for Yamamoto, according to a member of his team was about Buddhism and reincarnation. There were a variety of looks, that ranged in styles, but were all based on suiting, as most of his collections are. My favorite look, which is the first picture in the stream above doesn’t necessarily fit in with the rest of the collection but stands out to me. This look specifically features a lot of bondage like straps, which I have always been a fan of, as well as a cross body bag, which I think has been put together very well on top of a blazer. Many designers have done bondage straps, such as Helmut Lang, or Vivienne Westwood or even Dolce & Gabana’s sought after AW03 collection, but none have done it with suiting and I couldn’t imagine Yamamoto having done it any other way. The way he transforms suits into something completely different than what we are used to creates this amazing juxtaposition where on one hand you’re wearing a somewhat traditionally tailored suit, but on the other it has bondage straps coming from all sides.

There are a lot of looks that feature Japanese writing and drawings, which is something that Yamamoto has been doing rather often in recent collections. They have been painted and drawn on a variety of suits and shirts throughout the collection and I think this is where the references to Buddhism and reincarnation come in. Now I don’t know what the Japanese says nor do I know much about the religion, but this just naturally makes the most sense to me. I am a huge fan of the way he has put writing going down suits, that look like they have been cut out from newspaper headlines. In this collection, he also featured various portraits of women, on long flowy tunic coats and dress shirts that were made in collaboration with Suzume Uchida.

Although I very much liked a lot of the individual looks, I didn’t like the collection as a whole. This is because it didn’t feel very cohesive, it felt as though he had explored various ideas in the collection but each only with a couple of outfits. In comparison, the past two menswear shows of his have felt much more cohesive. 

Gustav von Aschenbach SS18

Now you might be thinking -- what the hell is Gustav von Aschenbach? Believe me, I thought the same thing. Gustav von Aschennbach is Robert Gellers new diffusion line. Thus, his namesake collection won’t be shown to the press and is instead doing a see-now, buy now trial. His new collection, however, is inspired by his favorite movie, Death in Venice, in which a man named Gustav von Aschenbach is the protagonist. The collection features relaxed looks -- with Cuban collared shirts, loose fitting pants, unstructured blazers and trucker jackets. This line is more minimalistic than Gellers usual pieces and thus is very wearable. The styling is also quite interesting, as some of the shirts are tied up in the front -- a very unusual look in menswear.  The casual, loose looks were all finished with simple tonal sneakers in colors to match each outfit. The sneakers had thick and ribbon-like laces, similar to that of Run DMC. Though the pricing is not yet public, the diffusion line looks to be a promising addition to many retail locations. Overall, the collection portrays a relaxed vibe by combining comfortable fit with classic silhouettes. I feel that this line may bridge the gap between retailers such as Cos and higher-end designers like Acne or Lemaire.

Raf Simons SS18

Raf is loved by many, idolized by many more. To start off with criticism is a good way to turn some heads… I hate the plaid hats featured in every look of this collection. To me, using an accessory in every look of a collection is a cheap way of making the collection look cohesive. All that said, I liked a lot of the looks. First off, I loved that Raf decided to work with Peter Saville again, Saville being one of the greatest graphic designers of all time, is a perfect fit for a designer like Raf who has achieved so much at the age of 49. With over 50 looks in this collection, it’s hard to discuss all, but let’s start off with my favorites. Look 11 featured an off the shoulder knit sweater, similar knit wear we’ve seen in his recent collections. Layered on top of a white tank top, that reminds me of his older pieces. Part of this collection felt very early 2000’s Undercover-esque, because of the use of vintage looking t-shirts to make different silhouettes such as skirts and sweaters. Similar to how Takahashi used vintage t-shirts in his famous SS06 hybrid denim, featuring patch worked tees for the back. What I like about Raf Simon’s is that’s although his designs have changed tremendously over the past 15-20 years, this collection feels like its building on last season, and as if it’s a development, slowly changing every season, while still keeping some iconic design aesthetics. Last season we saw a lot of oversized ivy league style V-necks, and it’s the same this season, but they feel more refined and a little more wearable. Lastly, I have to address the umbrellas, now I don’t know if these will actually release, but this might become the subtlest flex piece of the season, with an image printed on it that reminds me of last season’s Robert Mapplethorpe collection. In conclusion, Raf will be Raf, and no matter what, he is a designer that will never disappoint, and even if you don’t like it right now, in a couple seasons you’ll look back and realize how much of a visionary he was and how much he was ahead of the curve. And that’s why so many of his archive pieces are still so relevant today.

Thom Browne SS18

Skirts, dresses and heels. If there was one line to describe this collection, that would be it. Oh did I mention were discussing Thom Browne’s SS18 Menswear line?

Just like any other collection of his, it felt like we had just boarded a flight in the 1970’s and his runway models were the on-board crew. What I have come to love about Browne, is his love for the grey and navy suit. Now this might come as a surprise, as I am an avid fan of all black, but a suit should never be black unless it’s a tuxedo, which is a rule Browne also seems to follow. In this beautiful collection, not a single blazer is a traditional length, either opting for a cropped or elongated option, and finishing all of them off with shortened sleeve, that is closer to a ¾ than anything else. His classic brogue we have come to know him for has received an alteration, with the addition of a heel. Obviously, heels, as well as the skirts and dresses in this collection aren’t often silhouettes commonly associated with menswear, but we have seen them before. Actually, in SS10, Browne presented a mini skort of types. Designers like Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto have been doing this since the 90’s, but even Riccardo Tisci did a skirt for Givenchy, famously worn by Kanye West on his Watch the Throne tour. This raises the question, will skirts and dresses at some point be accepted in menswear, in the same way womenswear adopted pants. Thom Browne is a new type of avant-garde designer, staying so true to his vision through all his years, and being so consistent, while presenting something new every year is incredible. And he does this all, while still incorporating the roots of menswear.

Finally, he ended with a wedding tuxedo, with a bridal gown attached to the back of it. Ending with a wedding piece, made me think of Couture designers like Cristobal Balenciaga and Hubert de Givenchy, as they always traditionally ended with a wedding gown. This combination of androgyny and cross dressing, with the tradition of ending a show with a bridal dress is the perfect way to incorporate the old and the new.

 

Stay tuned as more parts get added to the review!

All photos care of Vogue Runway