The editorial team’s pick of the best.
Here’s a nice surprise to cure the post–summer blues: Bally has given itself a style makeover and unveiled a brilliant collection of uncomplicated wardrobe basics to enchant fans of understated luxe. Gorgeous cashmere topcoats and knits, the softest leather blousons, and a line of accessories destined for cult status, like this discreet weekend bag bearing the Swiss giant’s logo. Time to book some elegant weekend getaways.
TAKE A BOW
—You could say it was a home run. A grand slam. Sheer heaven. The opening of Paris menswear fashion week, Valentino’s Autumn–Winter runway show, simply knocked the socks off the Vogue Hommes editorial lot. It has to be said that for any chap on the lookout for clothing with character, strong lines and to–die–for fabrics, with just the right amount of chutzpah and fantasy, Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri, who have been at the creative helm of the Roman empire since 2008, have come up with an irresistible collection. Judge for yourself: a long–line reversible top coat in sable cashmere; a gorgeous wool suit in a camouflage print (!signature Picciolo" & "Chiuri!); a strict frock coat in wine leather lined with grey flannel; loose yachting knits; impeccable turned–up jeans worn over loafers in carbon leather with twin buckles; and a feather–light micro– coat printed with bright squares that might have come from a four–handed exercise by Josef Albers and Mark Rothko. And that’s only for starters. The entire collection was instant classic pulsating with mouth–watering modernity.
You’d also need to rave about the physical relationship with these ultra–artisanal clothes, about its contact on the skin, and the influence of cut on posture (!Piccioli"& Chiuri, it will be remembered, cut their teeth in the Couture studios of the Rome–based enterprise!) as the icing on the cake of a vibrant lesson in high fashion. Opulent and nonchalant (!call it opulently nonchalant or nonchalantly opulent if you will!), simultaneously cerebral and frivolous, impulsive and refined, understated yet self–evident, Homo Valentinoso is undoubtedly a complex character, but is the hero of the season.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
At just 25, the affable Paris–born model can pride himself on being the only French male top model. With his aristocratic bearing and relaxed nonchalance, he is on every catwalk that counts, courted by every leading photographer from Bruce Weber, Stephen Meisel and Willy Vanderperre. He has his head squarely on his shoulders, and a winning smile that rarely leaves him. The dandy of cool, who divides his time between Paris and New York, cultivates a low–profile style but never goes unnoticed. Traje de luces, DJ or white T– shirt? I’d go for the white T–shirt.$ An act of courtesy to revive? Male gallantry. One for the scrapheap? Conformism. $ Logo or slogan on a white T– shirt? Slogan, every time.$ Embroidered monogram: yes or no, and if yes, where and how? A plague on embroidered monograms!$ Favourite fancy dress party costume? Peter Pan! $ Number one clothing no– no? Baseball caps worn back to front.$ Number two clothing no– no? Kilts worn with underwear.$ Footwear no– no? Sandals with socks.$ All– time icon? Serge Gainsbourg.$ All– time turn– off? (%WWII French serial killer%) Doctor Petiot.$ Beard or moustache? Beard.$ Print fluo underpants with a big logo tattooed on the waistband or bear– print boxers? Boxers with the black patches of a Friesian cow or neutral Y– fronts.$ Tie or harness? Tie. Apart from its practical aspect, it is still a mark of elegance.$ Irresistible item of women’s clothing? Mini–skirts.$ Least irresistible? High–waisted, nipped–in trousers.$ V– neck or crew? Crew.$ Shoes for going out? Loafers.$ Socks? All–purpose black.$ An item of clothing stolen from your father? A frock coat and a top hat.$ Sleeping attire? In the buff.$ Fragrance? A boundless pleasure for the wearer and for the people around you who smell it. But it has to be the right one%…$ Man bag: a nightmare? The contents of a man bag are more convenient when you can put them in your pocket. $ Example of most– hated snobbery? Snobbery is unbearable because of the snobbery that goes with it.$ The nerdy detail you’d keep? Trousers tucked inside your socks.$ The oldest item in your wardrobe? A shirt with a floppy collar that belonged to my grandfather.$ Something bought and never worn? A white shirt. $ What do you wear for the after– party? The same as in the evening — as comfortable as possible.$ Outfit for sport? Shorts and a T–shirt.$ Burial attire? A clown outfit, to make everyone smile.
EARS ARE US
Prominent ears — aka “jug” ears — are the new bubble butt. On the catwalk, models with prominent ears are in the ascendant. And not only at avant–garde shows. Even the big–name events feature Prince Charles auricular lookalikes. The ears are true standouts, like those belonging to actor Russell Tovey in the HBO series Looking. They are exhibited, as a sort of revenge against all the childhood jibes (%and not so childhood ones, like Howard Hughes’s description of Clark Gable’s appendages: “His ears make him look like a taxicab with both doors open”%). Ears that could stop a penalty shot from Karim Benzema or rival Dumbo’s are at last being recognised as an asset in the charm lexicon. As a symbol of candour, intuition, and four–square blokeiness, protruding ears are the new, official, photographic must– have in the men’s fashion world.
J.W. Anderson is a blue– eyed blond, barely 30 and about to wreak destruction on the fashion world. His arrival at Loewe was accompanied by a tidal wave of advertising hype aimed at all fashion capitals. Loewe doesn’t do things by halves. It has a new logo, designed by Paris graphics studio M#/#M, and a lot of advertising shots showing a chair, a bag and key rings. And there was also a series of late 1990s fashion shots by Steven Meisel for Italian Vogue, perhaps to evoke the peaceful seaside atmosphere J.W. Anderson wants to inject into the brand. In one of the photos, a model is wearing a frock designed by Karl Lagerfeld, who agreed to its being used today — an advertising gesture whose import could be debated for hours. That is indubitably the Spanish label’s aim: to arouse curiosity and stimulate the appetite, recreate a Céline effect with a much–hyped British designer who has all of London at his feet.
J.W. Anderson knows how to communicate. LVMH took a minority ('but significant') stake in the brand last year. Single–mindedly experimental, he has also worked at the very pinnacle of luxe with Donatella Versace on Versus, and in hyperfast fashion, collaborating with Topshop for several seasons. So, Irish–born J.W. Anderson can do luxury. He can do desirable, too, and get consumers buying. Donatella Versace says: “What I like most in his work is at first I didn’t understand what this guy was doing. It was so provocative, so daring, so fearless, that it escaped even me.”
“Clothing has to make you think, ask a question, and start a debate,” he told the British press. And his clothes have definitely scandalised, as with his menswear collections, which came in for shrill criticism from the UK tabloids, enraged by what they didn’t understand. The show featured boys in bustiers, tulip shorts, and leather mini– dresses. Sales immediately soared. “There’s nothing shocking in my silhouettes. I force myself to push a line as far as it’ll go, to work with disproportion and construct a new silhouette. People come to me for a unique experience, to look for something or a proportion that’s new to them.”
Soon after being turned down by Central Saint Martins, he was picked up by Manuela Pavesi, the grande dame of Prada, and hired. It was she who encouraged him to exaggerate, and it was at Prada that he really cut his teeth, learning as he went. “I went to the core of the business. It was there that I learned to sell clothes, to merge creativity and the commercial. You have to manage the two, otherwise you’re out of work and depressed. You have to see your clothes on as many people as possible, there’s no other way: fashion can’t just be elitist today.” He’s a conceptual designer, who’s also aware of commercial reality. He checks out the boutiques and tweaks the window displays, striving to attract the public’s eye by arousing their curiosity. “In my work, there’s always this juxtaposition between very advanced research and classicism. To show something with something different about it. That’s what obsesses me.”
At Loewe, the J.W. Anderson line is likely to be intense. There’s leather too, obviously, in the shape of a patch sewn onto a shirt or a sweater. There are leather espadrilles, both relaxed and totemic. He says he doesn’t know much about Spain, apart from holidays in Ibiza, an influence visible in the five–star loose– fitting shirts, in the dress–down vibe of the collection, new to Loewe. The Asian media are already obsessing about his shoes decorated with Meccano parts. The new hyperLoewe fashions will leave no one unmoved, and J.W. Anderson is even slated to shake up the way we sell and buy luxe.
Printed monogrammed canvas and leather 24– hour bag Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane
OBJECT OF DESIRE Wool cap Gucci
OBJECT OF DESIRE Leather and metal knot key ring, leather and metal Meccano broach, and “Flamenco Oro” suede and leather knot bag Loewe