Dissidence is in full swing at New York Men’s Day. The new president has spent his first week signing a record number of executive orders that these emerging fashion designers have spent the first day of fashion week definitively rejecting.
Against a projected backdrop of military parades and atomic bomb mushroom clouds, Robert James sent out sleek and starched-coated guerrilla fighters on dawn drill. The balaclava styling, trim camouflage tailoring in durable weights, accessorized with placards reading #Build Bridges Not Walls and #We Welcome Refugees set a not unexpected tone of defiance.
David Naman decked out his military men in jewel tones and gentlemanly styling to gild the olive drab. Patchwork wools and plaid blazers, knits with high necks that collapsed softly at the throat worn with red velvet pants, a quirky grey sweater embellished with wings spoke to man’s nobility to rise from conflict by employing thoughtful strategy. Although his boots were well-shined, this soldier is not within compliance of army standard and is the more stylish for it.
Maiden Noir concentrated on what the soldier dons on leave, the khaki saved for the civvy’s roomy trench coat. Mohair sweaters and cardies in burnt orange, hazelnut wool pants, satins in the pink of newborn kittens imbued their presentation with softness and off-duty insouciance.
Woodhouse built a collection on the opposing concepts of “Insecurity and confidence: two words that combat each other like age-old rivals.” Quilted velvet gave the khaki trend a proudly luxurious spin when worn with graphic logo-d leggings while “piggy” pink velour track suits reminiscent of Juicy Couture provided the combative contrast: Have I the wherewithal for civil disobedience today or do I just want to veg on the couch?
R. Swiader is all about bringing people together: designer Rafal Swiader’s inspiration was his Polish countrymen mixed with the timeless appeal of the Parisian man and the contemporary curiosity he associates with a guy from Brooklyn. That vulnerable pink makes an appearance again in a collection boasting a deconstructed ease featuring twist-fronted shirts, punkish tartan and naif style print motifs on belly tops.
Menswear is now a many-headed beast, diverse and hungry like never before, vying to be all things for all people. Private Policy’s collection “Polycephaly” celebrates this, the show notes stating: “The “body” cannot survive without the “heads” collaborating, because the trouble of one is the trouble of all.
It’s an apt comment on the global anxiety both within the fashion industry as designers attempt to ensure all tiers of their supply chain are healthy, sustainable and working in harmony, and outside it as citizens navigating new political unrest on a seemingly daily basis and yet still determining to respect the cultural beliefs and national identities of all their human collaborators on planet earth. This challenge is effectively presented in a collage of flag prints, chains and harnesses crossing sutured interconnecting garments and paneled limbs.
By contributing guest editor Jackie Mallon, who is on the teaching faculty of several NYC fashion programmes and is the author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry.
All photos: Jackie Mallon for FashionUnited