Is the influence of the streetwear hype losing ground? Are women's suits the future of men's suits? Finally, is dandyism, inherited from the 19th century, becoming trendy again? These are all the questions we asked ourselves after the presentations of the autumn/winter 23/24 men's collections.
Workwear and streetwear influences are giving way. It seems that the looks of workers or residents of city neighbourhoods are no longer making the privileged world of fashion dream. The value of work has gone out the window. "With a coat retailing at 800 euros, we want to look chic, dressed up, and not think that we could find it in a streetwear wardrobe," said Naomi Gunther, in an interview at the Tranoi Men's show.
The men's AW23/24 collections therefore rediscovered a taste for the suit through more or less revisited looks (otherwise it wouldn't be fashion), depending on whether your name is Fursac, Dunhill or KidSuper for Louis Vuitton. This new aesthetic was inspired by the know-how of the Savile Row tailors, as demonstrated by the collection of Grace Wales Bonner who worked with Anderson and Sheppard, one of the world’s leading tailoring houses.
Tailoring know-how regains value with men
"JW Anderson set the tone in Milan by having models wear rolls of fabric to blur the creative process and get back to basics," said Mad magazine. In the wake of this, leading brands (Prada, Givenchy, to name but a few) opened their AW23/24 shows with suits, effectively making them a ‘must-have’. But rather than using the word "suit", it would perhaps be more appropriate to say "tailor", a term usually reserved for the female gender, but which found its full meaning here, given the evolution of cuts, materials and other devices capable of renewing the so-called "classic three-piece".
The feminisation of the men’s wardrobe was already evident in the previous season, and brought the question of how this trend was going to continue evolving. Several brands, some avant-garde, proposed, for the summer of 2023, skirts, dresses, jewels, heels, sequins for men. Now, the AW23/24 season showed that the logical next step was not so much men dressed as women, but rather gentlemen in favour of genderfluid tailoring. Meaning: a wardrobe that could be worn by both men as well as women.
Jackets or trousers worn over a crop top (Sankuanz), shirts or ties under a transverse drape (Louis Gabriel Nouchi) or with a waistband (Dolce & Gabbana), a shirt in vaporous silk chiffon (Steven Passaro) and a skirt worn over trousers at Dior, Givenchy or Walter Van Beirendonck could all be seen. It brought to question whether the suit would also be a key piece at the women's Fashion Weeks to come. Moreover, it should be noted that the Parisian men's AW resolutely paves the way to mixed parades. At the start of this phenomenon, some specialists in the sector argued that its mission was to be more visible, in a context where women’s AW is overloaded. Today, however, men's shows have an increasing female presence.
AW23/24 collections are dedicated to fluid tailoring
This diversity was clearly adopted by Alexandre Mattiussi, founder and artistic director of the Ami brand. “Prelude, Ami's AW23 collection for men and women, is a new step towards defining an ever more modern and lively wardrobe,” a press release said. “A collection that perfectly represents the Parisian or the Parisienne, the man or the woman. This season, Ami's winter is getting lighter: the materials, colours and cuts are all very soft, fluid – I would even say almost romantic.” Meanwhile, an already iconic piece was that of a long unisex coat, which hugged the lines of the body without structuring it. Definitely a must for next winter, for men and women alike.
Modern lazy smocking, the artifices of modern Dandyism
The term "Modern Lazy Smocking" derived from a young London designer, Luke Derrick, who presented at the London Show Rooms, during Paris Fashion Week January 2023. Luke Derrick pushed the limits of luxury menswear with smooth pieces, cut to perfection, offering “clothing for men who want to get away with it”, as The Face magazine put it.
He revisited the aesthetic of the ‘dandy’, a term that had its day under the influence of streetwear, but which found, in this autumn/winter season, all its panache. It began with the presentation of Anthony Vaccarello, who revived the famous lavaliere of his predecessor Yves Saint Laurent, originally designed for women, around men's necks.
Among the budding talents, the Spanish designer, Arturo Obegero, must also be mentioned, who presented in the showroom Sphère of the Fédération de la Couture et de la Mode. His style may have seemed outdated while US rap music dominated the catwalks, but next winter will prove to be his "homme fatal", a term borrowed from the lexicon of the femme fatale. "I wanted to update this sexist term that dates back to the 1940s, to the era of Hollywood film noir,” Obegero said. There's something post-Babylon in the air...
While this shift in trends could at first seem superficial, as is fashion for most people who are not intertwined with it, it comes with some level of impact on our relationship with intimacy. The sentiment could be seen in a press quote by Chinese creator Sean Suen, who with his collection wanted to move away from "the confusion and agitation of life in a city of modern culture to explore, through the vast mountains of Daliang (China) the culture of the Yi people", an ethnic community steeped in animism and shamanism. Suen hoped “that the intrinsic quality of self-awareness will be thought about through the prism of an ancient Eastern culture”. The meaning of fashion can appear deeper than it seems.