Judg­ing from the rodeo shirts, fringe and flo­ral patch­work on the run­ways, it’s the Wild West out there.

Fashion (Canada) - - Contents - By Clara Young

Cow­boy boots, rodeo shirts and prairie patch­work stam­peded down the Spring 2018 run­ways—and we have Don­ald Trump to thank.

The clas­sic in­gre­di­ents in a spaghetti western are good guys and bad guys, and there are plenty of “black hats” in the head­lines these days. Though there’s also the odd sher­iff who keeps his head down and tries to main­tain law and or­der, vil­lains gen­er­ally rule the day. The shenani­gans of cow­boys and lone rangers in our pub­lic life boiled over into a stam­pede of cow­boy boots, bolo ties, rodeo shirts and prairie patch­work on the run­ways. Real-life cow­boys are tak­ing no­tice, too. At the Pro­fes­sional Bull Riders’ tour stop in New York, one com­peti­tor wore chaps cus­tom-made from an LV gar­ment bag. “Per­son­ally, I’m not a big fan of the western mo­tif as a de­sign source,” says Kei Toyoshima, the new head menswear de­signer at Haider Ack­er­mann, about Raf Si­mons’s shoot-’em-up Calvin Klein col­lec­tion. “How­ever, I think it could be a strong In­sta­gram mes­sage and a strong im­age be­cause peo­ple im­me­di­ately think of a cow­boy and con­nect it with Amer­i­can western cul­ture. And, of course, the con­text for the col­lec­tion is that it’s Raf’s com­ment on the Amer­i­can sit­u­a­tion—Calvin Klein is a very New York Amer­i­can style brand—and Raf is a po­lit­i­cal de­signer and a con­tem­po­rary artist.” “Amer­ica the beau­ti­ful” as con­jured up by a Bel­gian by way of Man­hat­tan is a stu­pen­dously shiny pop ver­sion of the Wild West dreamed

up by writ­ers, painters and, later, Hol­ly­wood. In­stead of dusty cat­tle drives and Buf­falo Bills, Si­mons’s Rio Bravo was a satin tech­ni­colour spaghetti western pop­u­lated with soft-inthe-sad­dle cow­boys. It was a lus­cious fron­tier fes­tooned with the cas­cad­ing fringe of hard­drink­ing sa­loons and heart-of-gold madams and what they gave way to a cen­tury later: the great big pom-poms of Dal­las Cow­boys Cheer­lead­ers.

“Make Amer­ica great again,” says Toyoshima when I ask for his take on the col­lec­tion. “Raf doesn’t just make a gar­ment—he puts his mes­sage and sar­casm on top. We think of Texas when we think of cow­boys. Tex­ans wanted Don­ald Trump, while New York­ers wanted Hil­lary Clin­ton. We can see the con­trast be­tween city and coun­try/Europe and the United States, but the spaghetti western peo­ple...they voted for Trump.”

Like a boomerang, ev­ery­thing cir­cles back to the lit­tle big man at the top. Some­thing of a go-it-alone cow­boy in pol­i­tics, he has las­soed the land of Amer­ica and is drag­ging it like a hog-tied Hol­stein to slaugh­ter—or, as he thinks, to the metaphor­i­cal grass­lands of not the early fron­tier days but the just-as-van­ished era of fac­tory jobs and mid­dle-class plenty. The ideas that the lit­tle big man has in his head have sprung up on the run­ways like cac­tus blooms af­ter rain. “I reckon that if this is in­ci­sive fash­ion, then it’s a re­flec­tion of a po­lit­i­cal mo­ment,” says cu­ra­tor Clé­men­tine Deliss. “It’s Trump’s »

re­turn to the pi­o­neer­ing spirit, the Wild West, the prairie, the blond good house­wife who is ac­tu­ally a dirty model in dis­guise.” Donatella duly re­pro­duced The Man Who Shot

Lib­erty Valance at Ver­sace, while Marine Serre’s flo­ral patch­work in­sets and Vete­ments’s bib-front dresses were the stuff of six-shooters, hoe­downs and cov­ered wag­ons mov­ing west­ward to where the buf­falo roam. “It’s a cri­tique of the re­ac­tionary wave and a play with its dress codes,” says Deliss. “It’s up­tight cuts and a re­turn to indige­nous meth­ods such as lace, cro­chet, knit­ting and patch­work.”

In “Don’t Fence Me In,” Cole Porter, who had prob­a­bly never sat on a horse, crooned, “I want to ride to the ridge where the West com­mences and gaze at the moon till I lose my senses.” The “John Waynes” at Calvin Klein were ev­ery bit as im­prob­a­ble. These boys weren’t strong, silent types pa­trolling the sage­brush; they were mid­night cow­boys who had es­caped their man­i­fest Mid­west des­tinies and ended up mid­town, broke and as fenced in as ever. What they wore was po­lit­i­cal pun­ditry at its sharpest—clothes that say it’s high noon for Amer­ica.

CALVIN KLEIN Spring 2018

MIU MIU $2,030


SAN­DRO $370

PRADA $4,320

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