Dresses for men?! There are stranger things. Sure, you can call it a “tunic” but this new silhouette is sweeping fashion and changing up the options in menswear fast. We won’t get into how men had worn dresses for centuries and how French aristocracy wore heels and extravagant wigs, because that’s not going to be relevant to the modern man. It’s an argument that’s moot against the contemporary one that fashion designers today are pushing.
Now, more than ever, can men be stylish in a much more varied way that doesn’t go the stereotypical ways of traditional stuffy suit or inauthentic Mall-trend punk. Next Spring, the blending of gender in men’s fashion rises above the rest in changing hemlines and offering a new view of what menswear can be.
In a week all about his next move, Raf Simons showed a menswear collection that had everyone on the edge of their seats. After an influential show for Autumn/Winter (hello shorts trend!), the Belgian designer showed his menswear collection in the frenzy of anticipation that was pre-Dior Haute Couture. Doing what he does best, Raf exemplified his entire brand and all of his contributions to menswear. There were shorts and sneakers, there were Pepto pinks and sorbet oranges, art-influenced prints, and an effortless melding of youth and forwardness.
The overarching main idea here though was the dichotomy of masculine and feminine. A mixture and play on genders, almost the past and the future meeting in the middle (read: right now). The double-sided ideas came to life in the form of mullet-coats that walked into the runway as refined traditional tailoring in the front and trailed away with bursts of prairie floral dresses in the back.
It is a theme that Raf obviously finds important right now, the melding of opposites, conjoining the old and new. For his Dior Haute Couture debut, it came through in mid-century Mr. Dior embroidered gowns slashed off at the hips and worn with a pair of minimal, refined cropped trousers. Back at menswear, the printed dress didn’t stop at the back of coats though. Contributing to one of the most unexpected trends of menswear, an important look was a Brian Calvin painting blown up onto tunic t-shirts worn over slit short shorts that had the effect of a thigh-grazing dress worn underneath a powdery pink coat. Short and sweet, to make a point.
Furthering the sweetness, J.W. Anderson showed at London’s first menswear fashion week with a collection inspired by boys who love their mothers. One of our favorite new designers, Anderson’s take on menswear is a unique one that basically ignores any of the typical menswear conventions. He showed lycra flared pants with matching tops in the best of weirdest colors; robin’s egg, lavender, rust. The look is intense, but not unimaginable or unwearable. Coats had equal amounts of brightness in reds and that Raf-beloved pale pink.
Metallic full-lace outfits (Marc Jacobs, get in these now!) in black, white, and blue also joined in the mix. The colors of the lace remind us of a bruise. The effect? A weirdly diseased floral pattern hovering lightly over the skin, and oh so covetable. It’s as conceptual as COMME des GARÇONS and as cool as the Proenzas of New York. J.W. Anderson says he wants to affect menswear, even if his contribution is but one change in the mass-view on men’s clothes. His forward moving ideas and utter lack of fear to execute them well makes him poised to meet that goal.
If converting the most people to this melding of womenswear and menswear trend were a competition, Givenchy would probably be the reigning messiah. Riccardo Tisci’s work at Givenchy is nothing short of religious, and we’re not talking about the Madonna prints (though we will talk that later). Tisci’s amassing of fashion disciples toward his gothic-romanticism and free interpretation on gender has star power on its side, something Hubert de Givenchy and a certain Hepburn have in common. Though the celebrity-supported brand makes the kilt look cool and the goth go glam, the design holds up against all of that hype.
For Spring/Summer 2013 the ubiquitous graphic that goes trending ‘round the world went back to Tisci’s roots for inspiration. With haunting faces of the Mother of Christ printed on multiple layers of sheer transparencies, the prints became more subtle. It felt like a refining period for Tisci, a closing of his print-heavy chapter and a focus on color and silhouette. The color here, that powder pink makes an appearance again. It gave softness to a severely structured look. Skirts and dresses layered over trousers, double-breasted suit jackets over top.
The lightness felt holy, but the sheeny thick fabrics grounded the look. That’s something that makes sense to us, and how it psychologically justifies the risk taking in men’s fashion right now. The designers pioneering this androgynous look express a design sensibility that floats above mere mortals’ heads but grounds itself in just the right way to make it accessible to wear. Stairway to fashion heaven.
Equally romantic and spiritual is the work of designer, Rick Owens, whose menswear collection for Spring 2013 took inspiration from his wife, Michele Lamy. The models clomped out in clogs, like the ones she wears; dressed in knee length draped dresses in the usual Rick Owens blackened grays and desert taupes. The look has become a hallmark for Owens and his brand is easily recognizable.
There’s a softness to the clothes, but strength is not compromised. While that may seem like a cautionary choice to get men to wear these clothes, the Rick Owens customer doesn’t need convincing. The silent strength and slim silhouetted lightness of this collection were overtly feminine in the way that they respected the woman for which they were inspired by. It is important to note that to create menswear in the vein of womenswear, the designer must have a tremendous amount of respect and love for women. The strength comes from a place more maternal than macho and is essentially, why this trend is so powerful.
Equality creating quality fashion is a sentiment that Miuccia Prada also shares. For her menswear collection, she made a statement with models, as per usual. Sending out men of all ages from sixteen to sixty and some top model girls sprinkled throughout, the Prada show was about sameness. While it could arguably construe as monotony, Miuccia argues equality and all the fashion supported that. Every model walked out in extremely similar, minimal clothing with an athletic vibe that gave a 2013 lens to a 90s interpretation of the 1970s, a Prada staple.
While what Prada showed wasn’t incredibly unimaginable on the street, the internet can deliver us hilarious comments about how wacky, weird, and “out of the norm” this fashion is. There is a lot to say about the Prada collection. Going positive and calling it refined and minimal, a definite yes. Going negative and saying a bore and a snore, sure. But totally out there and insane? A little far reaching. Still, that’s something to consider when talking about men’s fashion. Normal, everyday men are probably not going to start wearing this in Spring/Summer 2013 just because Raf or Miuccia told them to.
Nevertheless, they will probably start accepting the look years from now when fashion has moved on to something different. Think about men and the slim fit pant. In the early 2000s, probably nobody would be caught dead in that “too feminine” silhouette but now the skinny jean is widespread and widely accepted. The early 2000s is when that slim pant was introduced and important in modern menswear, Hedi Slimane leading it into popularity during his time at Dior Homme from 2000 to 2007.
Thinking about that slow and gradual change gives us hope for this trend to catch on and move menswear into a different direction, somewhere new and exciting. Menswear has the ability to grow and the interesting concepts that designers are introducing into their work exemplifies that fashion is taking advantage of that. Our advice for guys? Go buy a dress, you’ll be way ahead of the curve.
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