THE BIG AP­PLE'S DE­BUT

AT THE FIRST EVER OF­FI­CIAL MEN’S FASH­ION WEEK IN NEW YORK, SOME FRON­TRUN­NERS RE­MAINED TRUE TO THEIR DESIGN IDEN­TI­TIES WHILE A FEW SHOW­CASED MORE PLAY­FUL OF­FER­INGS

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New York’s very own men’s fash­ion week— or what’s of­fi­cially called the New York Fash­ion Week: Men’s— has been long over­due, given just how many menswear de­sign­ers re­side in the city and all the cre­ative di­rec­tors who con­tin­u­ously draw in­spi­ra­tion from the city. There is a cos­mopoli­tan, care­free and com­mer­cial ap­peal to New York that the fash­ion in­dus­try finds par­tic­u­larly al­lur­ing. So, the ob­vi­ous ques­tion is: How would de­sign­ers take ad­van­tage of such an ex­u­ber­ant en­ergy and turn it into in­trigu­ing col­lec­tions which will also en­able them to cash in on the city’s fash­ion sense? Af­ter all, hype doesn’t mean any­thing if it can’t trans­late into growth and in­creased or­ders.

There are three of the Big Ap­ple’s top menswear de­sign­ers, how­ever, who never re­ally had to worry about cre­at­ing col­lec­tions that sell. Michael Kors, Tommy Hil­figer and John Var­vatos have, over the years, built strong foun­da­tions in terms of aes­thet­ics as well as busi­ness-wise. More im­por­tantly, the design lex­i­cons of all three con­sis­tently ex­plore the many sides of Amer­i­can style—but when they tweak, they tweak just enough. Kors, for in­stance, opted for an “is­land life” theme this sea­son. A pre­dictably sleek se­ries of re­laxed suits along with loose tops and sporty jack­ets were paired with ath­letic san­dals, de­liv­er­ing ca­sual but dressy vibes. “Peo­ple in the city are dress­ing down, and they’re more pol­ished on va­ca­tion,” he men­tioned.

Draw­ing on sim­i­lar themes for spring/sum­mer ’16 was Tommy Hil­figer, who cre­ated a col­lec­tion with is­land hop­pers in mind. Just don’t ex­pect the usual short shorts or wa­ter­proof at­tire, as the cre­ative di­rec­tor show­cased a bro­ken suit in­stead, along with even more suits paired with crew­neck tops un­der­neath. Stripes were the main ac­cent through­out the col­lec­tion, and the tai­lor­ing was neat—as usual. What was un­usual are the three last looks: Mod­els in Rafael Nadal suits, each hold­ing a ten­nis racket as a not-so-sub­tle hint at the col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the Grand Slam cham­pion and Hil­figer.

Part of the rea­son why this sea­son was so spe­cial for New York was the fact that John Var­vatos brought his spring/sum­mer in­stall­ment home af­ter sev­eral sea­sons in Mi­lan. Var­vatos, who founded his epony­mous brand in the Big Ap­ple back in the late 1990s, rekin­dled his con­nec­tion with the city through a run­way show that ro­man­ti­cized the rock scene of the ’70s, which was de­fined by the likes of Zep­pelin and Fleet­wood Mac. De­con­structed suits and worn leather jack­ets were quite prom­i­nent in the col­lec­tion, in keep­ing with Var­vatos’ well-known affin­ity for glam rock and sharp tai­lor­ing.

While de­sign­ers like Var­vatos dom­i­nated on the run­ways of New York, younger de­sign­ers took to the streets of the Big Ap­ple to show­case their work. Among the fron­trun­ners of this group, there was Pub­lic School, which had multi- eth­nic mod­els such as Waris Ah­luwalia and Twin Shadow dis­play­ing their po­lice lineup-in­spired pre­sen­ta­tion. De­signer duo Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Os­borne charmed the sporty folk of New York (and be­yond) with their con­vinc­ing pro­posal of el­e­vated ath­letic looks. If any­thing, the

“MICHAEL KORS, TOMMY HIL­FIGER AND JOHN VAR­VATOS HAVE, OVER THE YEARS, BUILT STRONG FOUN­DA­TIONS IN TERMS OF AES­THET­ICS AS WELL AS BUSI­NESS-WISE”

“PEO­PLE IN THE CITY ARE DRESS­ING DOWN, AND THEY’RE MORE POL­ISHED ON VA­CA­TION”

sea­son felt in tune: Elon­gated sil­hou­ettes, ef­fort­less pair­ings and ver­sa­tile out­er­wear were read­ily adopted into the wardrobes of mod­ern men.

Still, see­ing so many de­sign­ers who pre­ferred to play things safe prompted ques­tions about the lack of cre­ative minds who will boldly ven­ture into play­ful and ex­per­i­men­tal de­signs. Open­ing Cer­e­mony dis­missed the skep­ti­cism with its take on clas­si­cal mu­sic. This time around, Beethoven and Bach were treated like slo­gans, as the names of these famed com­posers ap­peared on a va­ri­ety of tops and jack­ets. Co-founders Hum­berto Leon and Carol Lim were in­deed known for their cheek­i­ness, but it was per­fectly bal­anced out by their ex­per­tise in pro­por­tions and tex­tures. A range of khakis in var­i­ous vol­umes and silk-like ma­te­ri­als made the col­lec­tion all the more de­sir­able.

Does be­ing de­sir­able help? Of course—but so does stand­ing out. Take Duckie Brown, for ex­am­ple. The brand rolled out what was ar­guably one of the most mem­o­rable col­lec­tions of the week, which made a strong case for pa­per-bag-waist trousers in ev­ery sin­gle look sent down the run­way. Del­i­cate and po­etic, the pieces looked in­ten­tion­ally over­sized but not stiff, sim­ple but not min­i­mal. There was also a sub­tle dis­cus­sion about gen­der in the col­lec­tion, which was man­i­fested in trans­par­ent or­ganza tops de­signed as if to chal­lenge the no­tion of mas­culin­ity while also al­low­ing a mea­sure of vul­ner­a­bil­ity. More im­por­tantly, it sparked a lot of dis­cus­sion. And so it should be with the first of­fi­cial fash­ion week of New York. Now, if only the de­sign­ers could re­ally push their lim­its and go be­yond their com­fort zones.

John Varvatos' ca­sual rocker style; Duckie brown's trans­par­ent or­ganza top op­po­site page clock­wise from top left shades of white: Michael kors; pub­lic school; Tommy hil­figer; open­ing Cer­e­mony

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