Laurence & Chico Spring 2018

New York Fashion Week: The Shows (NYFWS) (there are two each year not the one the name implies) was created in 1944 by Eleanor Lambert—the first American fashion publicist, and an iconic figure in American fashion— to showcase American fashion designers because the American press could not get to Europe to see the couture shows due to World War II; thus, the original name of fashion week, Press Week.

While that does remain a function of Fashion Week, the seven-day event has grown into something so much bigger. In its current incarnation, NYFWS, simply presenting collections in the traditional way isn’t enough; it must come with great spectacle to grab attention from editors, bloggers, social media influencers and other industry professionals. The big danger in spectacle presentation is the clothes getting lost in the shuffle.

Laurence & Chico, met while students Parsons School of Design. They both later worked at several luxury houses, launching their own line in 2016. The results of their spring 2018 collection were mind blowing, walking a fine line between eye popping and eye gouging.

The show was a presentation rather than a traditional runway with models perched in a pre-ordained tableau. The venue was heady with an earthy green smell that came from the live moss that covered the stage, interspersed with sparkling brightly colored gravel with eerie atmospheric music by Zeng Bohao reminiscent of recently revived Twin Peaks.

                                                 Images courtesy of Fashion Reverie

Laurence & Chico’s spring 2018 collection immediately caused the eye to peruse the wild styling. Models wore hat/wigs 2 ft. high, weighing excess of maybe 20 pounds. Some of the wigs were accessorized with gigantic candy wrapper bows. The makeup considered of feathers glued to lips, pearls glued to eyebrows and yarn around the eyes that rendered up images of textured tears. There were also metallic ruched elbow gloves.

It’s easy to see how a collection might get lost in all that theater; however, the garments stood out enough because of their own brilliance. There were unique silhouettes of oversized bomber jackets made entirely of metallic ruffles worn over dresses interwoven with pearls, floral embroidery, and feathers. Jackets and skirts made of metallic candy wrap interwoven with pearl embellishments. Another great look was a full-length vest made of red and dark denim tweed with front ties, over a pair of navy skinny jeans that would look great on Miley Cyrus. Once you look past the eye-popping styling, the outfits were avant- garde and playful, bursting with color and personality. Even the blazer and skinny pants with their traditional silhouettes were created with fun cartoon prints.

Some of the clothes did look like they might be difficult or uncomfortable to wear, but worth the discomfort. Keep your eye on Laurence & Chico; Fashion Reverie suspects they may become the next big fashion superstars!

—Cameron Rose Gray

Raun Larose Men’s Spring 2018

Raun_Larose_spring_2018The Eighties are back and that is most evidenced in the Raun Larose spring 2018 collection. In a season where menswear designers reinvented 90’s hip-hop, reimagined office suiting, and continued to experiment with androgyny, Raun Larose chose to stay with what his brand does best, reposition traditional menswear silhouettes through a lens of modernity and gender neutral sensibility.

Inspired by 80s tech startups—think Apple and Compaq—Raun Larose in this “Systems Down” collection collaborated with Portuguese artist Jose Cigna on the graphics in the collection. Many of the graphics were modeled after old error messages found on 80s IBM computers.

Collages1383Understanding that fashion should be now and next, Larose wove current trends—futuristic metallic, restrained volume, and off-the-shoulder silhouettes—into the landscape of where menswear is heading, androgyny and statement pieces that are not for mass consumption. Though most male consumers are not ready for where Larose is projecting the brand, millenials, if they can get past stagnant wages and there very deep college debt, will stand up and take notice. Remember, this is the generation of legalized marijuana, same gender marriage, and a breakdown of government and societal institutions.

All that said; there was a lot of craftsmanship in this spring 2018 outing. Larose deconstructed typical men’s suiting by adding volume and replacing jacket buttons with a jacket wrap tie. He also did some interesting layering with metallic shorts and layered over and under slacks. Larose incorporated man skirts/culottes that rose high on the hips interestingly paired with oxford and graphic print tops.

Images courtesy of Raun Larose

Images courtesy of Raun Larose

Though there was a strong focus on expanded silhouettes that most male consumers cannot wrap their heads around, there were some separates that have retail viability. And a lot of the outerwear would work in most male consumer’s wardrobes.

In a season were most of the revamped 90s silhouettes seemed dusty and other menswear directions just didn’t register, Raun Larose was one of the few collections that gave hope to a very lackluster season. Vive la difference!!

—William S. Gooch

DIM MAK Collection Men’s Spring 2018

Dim_Mak_Spring_2018At one time, New York City was the American hub of men’s fashion. As one of the major international fashion markets, New York City produced Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Perry Ellis, Billy Reid, Todd Snyder, and John Bartlett, all great American sportswear designers in their own right.

Those days may have past. Los Angeles is fast becoming the hub of American menswear design. Though this still second city of American menswear fashion is not producing sportswear, LA is quickly coming to the fore when it comes to athletic or athleisure wear, as some call it. This growing menswear genre includes skater culture, rock n’ roll points of view, and leisure/Baja-inspired clothes.

Dim_Mak_Spring_20181If you examine the list of designers showing during New York Fashion Week: Men’s spring 2018—Bristol, C2H4 Los Angeles, N-P-Elliot, and several others—a good percentage of the collections are coming out of Los Angeles. Add DIM MAK to the list of LA–based menswear brands.

The brainchild of Grammy-nominated Steve Aoki the DIM MAK Collection launched n 2014. The street wear brand was inspired by skater culture and indie rock sounds. DIM MaAK epitomizes the sound and the mood of Aoki’s music and is worn by those hipsters that are risk-takers.

For its spring 2018 collection, “Paradise Found,” Aoki sought reprieve from all the global turmoil of environmental genocide, income inequality, war, racism and sexism. Aoki found his reprieve, so to speak, in the unity and the commonality that can be found in all people. And this is evidenced in collection that places some focus in garments that can be worn by both genders. In some respect, this is a genderless society.

Images courtesy of Williamson PR

Images courtesy of Williamson PR

Understanding that society is moving beyond gender, Aoki has tapped into a restrained volume aesthetic and very neutral tones that can fit well on anybody. Perhaps, the most interesting element in this collection are the paint-splashed, Pollock-like pants. This aesthetic also popped up in some of tee shirts and jackets.

Though this collection definitely projects toward skateboard culture, there are some good staples that can fit easily in a lot of male consumers’ wardrobe. Projecting into the future, perhaps, Aoki can distinguish his brand from other similar brands by adding more color and some interesting twists.

—William S. Gooch

Parke & Ronen Men’s Spring 2018

Parke_Ronen_Spring_2018Twenty years is a landmark accomplishment in any pursuit. Whether it is a 20-year wedding anniversary or a 20-year relationship or the even more occasion these days, 20 years on the same job, 20 years on the same track is worth noting.

Nowadays, in the fashion industry, for a fashion brand to last twenty is a miracle in itself. And in that respect, Parke & Ronen’s 20-year anniversary is a cause for celebration.

Parke_Ronen_Spring_20181Inspired by John Denver’s 70s hit “Rocky Mountain High,” the Parke & Ronen design team of Parke Lutter and Ronen Jehezkel took a retrospective look back at their collections over the past 20 years. And interestingly, the brand has evolved from mostly a swimwear brand at its inception to include head-to-toe looks.

Collages1361This collection had a definite early 70s, freespirit, commune, hippy reference, evidenced in some of the relaxed camo and cannabis prints, as well as the lambskin vests and jackets. Perhaps, Lutter and Jehezkel are vibbing off the new passed legal marijuana laws in several states. And though the high in the collection was not exactly a “Rocky Mountain High,” it was a current inebriation reference that will appeal to young male consumers.

Collages1363Throughout the brand’s 20 years, Lutter and Jehezkel have stuck to their brand aesthetic—casual American sportswear with a penchant toward youthful athleticism—an aesthetic, if done right, that never goes out of style. And though this 20-year respective was slightly nostalgic, Lutter and Jehezkel did introduce some new looks and continued to expand their brand aesthetic.

Collages1364As always with Parke & Ronen there were lots of swimwear looks in the collection; however, the 50-garment collection did include some interesting camo look as well as some great spring jackets. Also, Parke & Ronene strayed away slightly from the form-fitting athletic looks the brand has become known for. And this redirection is a much need brand evolution.

Images courtesy of Parke & Ronen

Images courtesy of Parke & Ronen

Standout looks in this spring 2018 outing include the brand’s sage camo stretch poplin jacket with pistachio daisy print stretch mesh tank and sage camo skinny cargo short, beige cannabis print stretch cotton twill jean jacket with beige cannabis print stretch cotton twill holler short, grass green Zed knit cotton crewneck with beige stretch cotton skinny cargo short, sky blue double-faced linen storm jacket, red multi-stripe knit cotton mock neck tee with mustard stretch cotton twill trouser, bleach denim button-down shirt with orange/green plaid cotton flannel pleated short, and tan lambskin suede jean jacket.

—William S. Gooch

General Idea Men’s Spring 2018

General_Idea_Spring_2018General Idea’s spring 2018 collection was one of the best collections during New York Fashion Week Men’s (NYFWM). However, that is not saying a lot in a very lackluster menswear season.

Sadly, most of the more mainstream menswear brands, Tommy Hilfiger, John Varvatos, Nautica, and Michael Bastian have exited NYFWM. Even some lesser known, but popular brands—Tim Coppens, Siki Im, Loris Diran, and Timo Weiland—are also no longer showing during NYFWM. That leaves only a handful of brands that have any real market viability in the troubled menswear market. General Idea is one of those brands; and they did deliver, well, kind of.

Collages1339General Idea’s creative director Bumsuk Choi incorporated a lot trends in this spring collection—oversized pants, dangling belts, a 90s hip hop aesthetic, and bold color. There was even a variation of a man skirt—a trend that popped in General Idea’s collection about three years ago, but never gained enough traction in the menswear market. There was also a man’s jumpsuit—another trend from as season or two ago that never got a lot of traction. All these trend were incorporated very well into the collection; perhaps, better than any other collection this season.

This was collection for the young, hip international traveler. This international traveler is perhaps more interested in where he is traveling than how he looks. Many fashion pundits and predictors contend that this is the motivation of millenials. And Bumsuk Choi has reflected that is his collection by paring down his down aesthetic to the bare minimum.

Collages1340That said there were some good combinations in the collection. Choi’s tan beret with paisley shirt and khaki pants was a very good combination, as well as oversized burnt orange shirt with navy vest and pants accessorized with updated love beads.

Still, missing from this spring 2018 collection was so many of the things menswear editors have come to love about General Idea. Known for its great outerwear, Bumsuk Choi this season stayed pretty minimal with the coats and jackets, sticking mainly to simple trenches, a denim jacket, and a hoodie jacket.

Collages1341What did work in this collection was Choi use of bold color. And including purple and purple paisley was a brilliant idea. The bold color used in this collection offset the otherwise pedestrian look of many of the garments.

Collages1342

Images courtesy of Williamson PR

Go back to what has been working for you!! Fashion editors love it, and so does the public!!

—William S. Gooch

Kenneth Ning Men’s Spring 2018

Kenneth_Ning_Spring_2018Every fashion season, fashion journalists and industry professionals anxiously await a designer/brand that stretches the proverbial fashion envelope. Understanding that in the current economic climate—with so many stores and boutiques closing nationwide—expanding design horizons is a huge risk that few design houses are willing to make. Still, there are those designers that throw caution to the wind and follow the beat of their own drum. Fashion industry professionals are grateful for those courageous few.

Collages1353Kenneth Ning is of the courageous set!! For spring 2018 Kenneth Ning looked to reimagine male office attire and the juxtaposition of political hackers and the government. This collection featured reimagined dress shirts, dress slacks, suits and even office casual wear as seen through the lens of an updated, downtown hipster aesthetic and deconstructed tailoring. Ning accomplished this by employing asymmetrical techniques, inserting statement sleeves, and inverting shirts and business jackets upside down and inside out. These reimagined shirts were often paired with the trend of slouchy pants.

Interestingly, Ning would mix and match deconstructed office attire with military fatigues which evoked his political hacker/government juxtaposition. Also evident in this collection was Ning’s take on gender bending apparel. Genderless apparel was a design motif that has popped up in several spring 2018 collections. And while some designer/brands were able to successfully insert this trend, most designers were lost in translation when attempting to employ gender nonspecific aesthetics.

Images courtesy of Kenneth Ning

Images courtesy of Kenneth Ning

Ning’s design aesthetic is not for most male consumers. And though his core audience is niche and mostly confined to coastal, hipster consumers, Ning’s spring 2018 collection is cheeky, playful and full of potential.

—William S. Gooch

Nick Graham Men’s Spring 2018

Nick_Graham_Spring_20181Nick Graham’s runway shows are one of the most entertaining runway shows of New York Fashion Week: Men’s. He always has interesting themes and he finds ingenious way to inject his inspiration into his collections. Which is a feat in itself, in that Graham’s oeuvre is classic men’s suiting. From Latin inspirations to futuristic references to a nautical approach, Nick Graham always delivers, season after season.

Nick Graham’s spring 2018 collection was no exception. Inspired by Plato’s 360 A.D. original work on Atlantis and 60’s pop singer Donovan’s song of the same name. Graham realized his inspiration with some appropriate fashion props. Dangling rope belts, fake seaweed disguised as a Polynesian lei accessory, fake lobsters on the shoulders of suit jackets, and of course what would a nautical theme be without some nautical netting.

Collages1370All these fashion props added to this sea-inspired collection, not overwhelming the classic American menswear suiting. And though there was some shirtless suiting, rolled-up slacks and lots of exposed torsos, Graham demonstrated that the quality and fashion-forward sensibility of his spring suits stood out on their own.

Unlike several menswear collections during this rather uninspired season that leaned toward a dusty re-interpretation of a 90s hip-hop aesthetic, Nick Graham stayed with what he does best, and it made it entertaining at the same time. Something he always does!!

Images courtesy of wwd.com and Nick Graham, respectively

Images courtesy of wwd.com and Nick Graham, respectively

Stick to your guns Nick Graham. Keep bringing the class and sophistication that is a well-acknowledged mainstay of your brand. If only some other menswear brands had your taste!!

—William S. Gooch

Carlos Campos Men’s Spring 2018

Collages1335Carlos Campos often looks to Latin themes and culture for inspiration for his men’s collections. Again for spring 2018, Campos delved into Latin culture for inspiration, referencing the work of Mexican architect Luis Barragan, and Barragan’s design aesthetic of minimalist realism often in found in geometric silhouettes.

Campos’ fondness for color blocking is front and center in this spring outing, evidenced in geometric color blocked shapes and sometimes matchy, matchy monochromatic colors on the clothes and asymmetrical color-blocked themes in the accessories. This worked to create effect facilitating a rich, dramatic effect on the runway, also aptly expressing the geometric, minimalist design aesthetic of Luis Barragan.

Carlos_Campos_spring_2018There were some dynamic, well-tailored long coats in the collection with delicate pleating or “alforjas” which demonstrated Campos’ design conversation of the two Americas—Latin design aesthetics and American classics. By mixing Northern and Latin American influences, Campos ingeniously displayed his craftsmanship with a projection toward the future evidenced in a few androgynous looks that could work well for any gender.

Where this collection fell flat was in the innovation. Most fashion editors and pundits have seen these looks and silhouettes before. And as attractive and retail friendly as this collection might be, there was really very little originality or pushing of the masculine design aesthetic envelope.

Collages1336In past seasons, Campos always added a little something extra to his designs that made him standout. Unfortunately, not in this spring 2017 collection; perhaps, going for a stark minimalistic approach married with retail viability, Campos lost some of his creative mien. Or, it is so deceptively disguised that only those close to the brand can distinguish the masterful injection of genius that goes beyond the good tailoring.

And though the continuing trend in menswear is moving away from innovation and ingenuity and embracing garments that translate well on e-commerce sites. Luxury JC Penny’s should not be Campos’ new design trajectory .

Images of CCPR/Leandro Justen

Images of CCPR/Leandro Justen

Standout looks in the collection include Campos’ mason red sports parka with Cuervo counterfeit “CAMPOS” sweatshirt, alforja mac coat with alforja tee shirt in deep navy with deep-navy tailored shorts, deep-navy mac coat with alforja trim, and alforja belted kimono jacket in soft-white grosgrain.

—William S. Gooch

Woodhouse Men’s Spring 2018

Woodhouse-Mens_Spring_2018This season there were several menswear brands that looked to 90s hip-hop as a reference point. Most failed to deliver a viable re-interpretation of this 90s design aesthetic; however, Woodhouse was one of the very few that delivered.

Julian Woodhouse accomplished this endeavor by injecting humor and fun into his “Field Day” spring 2018 collection.  “This collection was stitched with the hopes of a brighter future and for us represents the new revolutionary and our counter culture. We are a politically and socioeconomically engaged society, not caring is not an option, but from time to time we can take a break and enjoy life. So let’s have a field day,” explained Julian Woodhouse in hi spring 2018 collection’s liner notes.

Collages1380There was lots of bold color in this collection, as well as striped cargo pants and overalls, baseball hats and some color blocking. All these elements added up to a very playful, youth-driven collection; especially with the male models standing on wooden grates planted on green astroturf.

And Julian Woodhouse continued with the boyish charm of the collection with comical messages on the baseball caps, particularly the tongue-in-cheek caption, “Make Menswear Great Again. But Really Tho.” Donald Trump should be so proud!!

Images courtesy of Woodhouse

Images courtesy of Woodhouse

The current political climate has inspired collections that come from a variety of points of view. However, Julian Woodhouse has opted for the irony of it all. After all, if you cannot have fun with fashion, then it all can become too dour.  Why not have some fun!!

—William S. Gooch

Givenchy Resort 2018

 

Givenchy_Resort_2018_lesfaconsYou know that you are living in unwieldy times when housing projects become front-page news. First, there is HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson who plans on shuttering all US public housing. Then on June 14 London’s Grenfell Tower, a housing project, erupted in flames, killing 79 people. Add to that Givenchy’s Resort 2018 collection that used the Corviale, an imposing Brutalist housing project southwest of Rome, as one of the backdrops.

In these very uncertain times, artists are looking to juxtapose their creative vision against political unrest and societal change. No brand this season does this any better than Givenchy.

Collages1324This interesting perspective may be a continuing aesthetic of Givenchy under its new creative director Clare Waight Keller. Keller has a history of redefining iconic fashion houses. From Pringle of Scotland, where Keller served as creative director, to Chloe, where Keller assumed the helm in 2011, Keller has demonstrated an adept ability of reinventing iconic fashion design aesthetic and adding a modern sensibility that sits well with contemporary audiences.

For Givenchy’s Resort 2018 collection Keller utilized the architectural backdrops of an Italian housing project and Rome’s Museum of Modern Civilization to contrast static, overwhelming structures as the collections updated classics. The Museum of

Images courtesy of lesfacons.com

Images courtesy of lesfacons.com

Modern Civilization with its mid-19th century modernist peristyle provided and interesting juxtaposition to a resort collection that emphasized suiting in gauzy tulle and the total lace look comprised of a cape top and ample pleated lace trouser.  Additionally, the Museum of Modern Civilization’s white colonnade perfectly complimented the monochromatic all-white pieces in the collection. In comparison the Corviale project was an unusual contrast to a rich blue flounced work wear parka and filmy organza utility-pocket jumpsuit. Add to that fuchsia pieces presented within the dark, Gothic interior of the Palestra del Duce, which seemed to influenced some of garments that were a luxurious panoply of asymmetrical cuts, lace, and diaphanous fabrics, and you have a collection that found that delicate balance between post-modern influences and classic looks.

—William S. Gooch

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