As a man deeply interested in fashion, I’ve always felt a striking disconnect between the clothing I gush about and the things I have hanging in my closet. When models hit the runways each September and February I consistently find myself gawking at the pretty stuff the lucky ladies get to wear.
The unfortunate truth, however, is that I look awful in a dress. Similarly, my sausage-fingers would utterly disgrace the beauty of any designer handbag. I’ve seen plenty of boys proudly pull off pieces intended for women, but my attempts result in a laughable display of wonky hems, awkward limbs and an overall silly disposition. As much as I want the biannual glory of Women’s Fashion Week to directly apply to my life, boring old men’s clothes will always take prominence in my wardrobe.
Thankfully, a couple of weeks before all the hullaballoo commences in New York, London, Milan and Paris, a selection of major labels put out entire collections devoted to the daring, fashionable men of the world. Men’s Fashion Week goes largely unnoticed because, well, fashion is an art and business far too expressive and beautiful for the stereotypical guy to understand.
This is not to say men don’t like fashion. More and more men are expressing their love for clothes in blogs, newspapers, magazines and on television. With a clear focus on the refined details of an ensemble (think crisp, pressed shirts, perfectly tailored blazers, monograms and authentic Italian loafers), the obsession of the “typical” man definitely has its perks. But as much as I’d like to say that I care about cufflinks, gingham and straight-cut jeans, I just can’t.
This is why Men’s Fashion Week means so much to me. With a few exceptions, the fashion houses that showcase their men’s collections in the weeks before Fashion Month triumphantly parade clothing that is delectably artistic and alive. Creativity bursts through the seams of the clothes, stiffening the competition with the women’s lines.
Take Burberry Prorsum for example. Call me old school, but Burberry’s high fashion line consistently churns out some of my favorite shows each season. With a keen understanding of color and texture, their incorporation of live music and some of the most dazzling finales in the business, it is hard not to walk out of a Burberry Prorsum show (or, you know, away from the computer you streamed it on) without feeling buzzed. I have been surprised by their ability to fashion styles for men on par with their women’s collections.
During their typical presentation at London Fashion Week, the label snags a few of the best looks (and models) from the men’s show and effortlessly weaves them into the mix of beautiful women’s dresses, coats, bags, jackets and shoes. These inclusions fit right in with the looks of the ladies of Burberry. Rather than creating watered-down, easily digested ensembles that complement those on the women, Burberry Prorsum takes great care to maintain equality between them.
The label unveiled their men’s Autumn/Winter 2015 campaign this January. Christopher Bailey, Burberry Prorsum’s creative director, described the collection as “classically bohemian.” An abundance of suede lined the collection as eclectic, colorful and worldly prints jolted the already exquisite ensembles into something fresh and memorable. Following in Burberry’s tradition of spectacular, emotional finales, the event planners bombed the audience with a dazzling cloud of glimmering confetti.
Topman Design held a men’s fashion show that wooed me in a similar way. An evocative, eccentric ode to the ’70s, this show delighted in rich furs, poofy hair, high waists and tight, almost-too-small tops. Although it pilfered inspiration from the tired stereotype that the ‘70s have become in the modern age, it never seemed cheap or unimaginative.
A good portion of Men’s Week takes place off the catwalk. I admire Burberry and Topman Design for sending their men down the runway, but many labels don’t care to put forth the effort to do so because drawing a crowd for it can be difficult. Balenciaga stuck to a presentation during which the few who were invited observed the clothes on standing, not strutting, models in a more controlled setting. The aesthetic of this show perfectly blended the looks that Alexander Wang — the new creative director of Balenciaga — is famous for with the brand’s well-established, revered personality.
It really is a shame that shows like these don’t reach wider audiences. Women take inspiration from men’s clothes all the time. Chanel created an empire on that idea, for goodness’ sake. The pieces sewn and presented at Men’s Fashion Week are calling to be not only adored but also adorned by women everywhere. Do yourself a favor. Feed your hungry minds with all the glory that is men’s fashion.