Style versus fashion, the endlessly asked question, the challenge of pin-pointing exact meanings of each. The distinction between the two vague and expansive words is becoming evermore important, even obvious, to the modern man, and was only confirmed by the SS’12 collections of Men’s Fashion Week.
Catwalks were littered with sophisticated tailoring, but the genius was in the evolution of the classic piece. Twists of detail converted the garments into quirky yet still absolutely wearable art, answering the calls of the contemporary man who begs for subtle individuality that isn’t too androgynous, but neither is it clumsy. Gucci kept a sporty silhouette beneath the defined jackets and ankle-swinging slacks. There was a deliberate focus on oversized, sturdy bags and suitcases, and thick-soled, slip on shoes: both vital in the fast-moving world of today. These accessories brought the collection into the current moment for the ‘en vogue’ male.
Colours were another means of modernisation. Enrico Coveri threw zinging lime greens onto the lapels of all-white jackets, whilst Cavalli contrasted the white with a palette of rich, majestic hues. All the while, they stayed true to the enduring aura of the wardrobe staples, the necessities. Philipp Plein and Armani were mixing the well-known, casual rock tee with throw on suits; rolled up trousers and buttonless blazers toned down formality. DSquared2 on the other hand refined the slouch and stuck to slim structuring and minimalistic decoration, finished by the skinny tie.
Burberry was the beautiful antithesis of the week. Whilst ensuring a modern and wearable collection, the clothing simultaneously had an antique feel, induced by the patchwork designs on shirts and earthy colour palette. Thick fabrics boasted durability. The aesthetic of the collection was set in the past, in mountains and Nordic survival, yet the functionality of the collection was never more suitable for what one needs to survive today. Christopher Bailey explained, “I wanted to celebrate the idea of craftsmanship. I love the whole digitalisation of the world. But I don’t think one has to be at the expense of the other.”
Bailey neatly leads us to the brief summarisation of the ‘style versus fashion’ debate for the male consumer, who appropriately prefers all things done succinctly: trends are fickle, quality and style are timeless. And men enjoy the practicality and permanency of that guarantee. We understand that the growing availability of cheaper, lesser quality clothing on our high streets reflects the current societal pace. Post-millennia life is quick moving with a throw away attitude, characterised by the Internet in particular, where brands must update their stock as quickly as the bloggers update their site with the latest freebie, resulting in an age of ‘fast fashion’. Yet just when it’s believed that no other subtlety could possibly be thought up to enhance a wardrobe staple, in this immense abyss of design and consumption, another slight of hand produces something new. The fashion world is not yet prepared to let quality slip in order to keep up with the fast pace of the 21st century. Certainly for the modern man, it is the high street having trouble keeping up with the catwalk.
PUBLISHED by FUSSED MAGAZINE (now obsolete) in JANUARY 2012
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