New School Vs Legacy
If there was one major takeaway from the Men’s Fall/Winter ’24 collections, it was that there appears to be two major perspectives and that is the legacy vs new take on design. One sees new creative directors, bringing their maisons into a new direction while the other sees existing heads of fashion houses honing into their brand. Each takes on the age-old question of how to present new clothing while balancing between marketability and creative, conceptual appeal. How brands communicate the storytelling through the clothes while simultaneously clueing us into the direction of where the house is going is essential.
The New Guards
It appears as if the creative direction at Louis Vuitton is quite literally based on geographical aesthetics. Pharrell Williams’ predecessor Virgil Abloh succeeded in incorporating his vision while staying true to Louis Vuitton’s brand heritage. Abloh imbued his collections with sport and streetwear elements to deliver a clear visual identity in the clothing while incorporating clean tailoring (and hushing the naysayers) and also including his own African influences. However, Louis Vuitton’s Fall/Winter 2024 Men’s Collection chose to shine a light on “American Western dress” and workwear. From the “American Dandy” to the “First Cowboy” Louis Vuitton approached the collection through a country lens with suits and shirts chain-stitched with the cacti, bucrania and bolos of Western imagery alongside vaquero jackets with hand-embroidered metallic florals.
No doubt various pieces will be enjoyed by the Lil Nas X and Orville Pecks of the music industry who enjoy an updated take on Western American fashion but it begs the question of who Williams has in mind when he is designing the clothes and why is one of the biggest French luxury fashion houses taking the “American Western” approach. When Louis Vuitton’s Pre-Fall 2024 collection showed the House go to Hong Kong, the perspective was clear — to leverage on Hong Kong as a (re)burgeoning fashion market while highlighting the collection’s nautical-inspired collection. While this collection was indeed beautiful, there was a missing “Pharrell” stamp on the pieces that his predecessor was so successful at delivering. This is where Pharrell’s insight should come in. He understands how to create visual branding artists in the music industry and has been working on his image since the early noughties.
Whatever you thought you knew about Alessandro Michele’s Gucci has gone out the window. Enter the new era of Gucci with Sabato De Sarno at the helm. The magpie meets more-is-more approach has come to an end and is instead replaced with exquisite simplicity and irreverent glamour. Ostentatious colours and silhouettes are instead replaced with flashes of red, blue, and green. It is the dawn of new creative design but is it by no means a venture into quiet luxury. This is a reset, with the focus shifting to the collection’s accessories. Sophisticated designs and sleek wardrobe staples were paired with leather gloves and bags in the House’s signature Gucci Rosso colour. From crossbody bags to cylindrical cases, duffles to backpacks the leather pieces of the collection were the true pièce de résistance. By honing into their bags and accessories they are effectively saying, that when you buy into the new Gucci, you are also buying into its new design team lead. This is “Gucci Ancora” and a brilliant menswear debut from Sabato De Sarno, marking a step in the right direction for both Gucci’s brand and marketability.
Givenchy explores “gentlemanliness” through the character of Hubert de Givenchy. Sartorial pieces were each injected with a nonchalant air of flamboyance that was delivered through textures of outerwear, teddy coats and bomber jackets. Givenchy’s infinity G monogram was brought out from archives and featured within the collection alongside the revival of the 2G emblem that was used on buckles. Givenchy always designs with the modern man in mind and so you will often find the collection’s feature youth take on clothing combined with subtle detailing.
Hermes artistic director Véronique Nichanian knows how to design with men in mind. It takes a specific design prowess to bring English checks and herringbone textiles to a French design house. The collection oozed with versatile pieces including a black A-2 flight jacket in leather and belted long leather coats and knitwear featuring mixed argyle patterns. Haut à Courroies bags were the standout accessories followed by crocodile leather belts and cashmere beanies.
The beauty of what Kim Jones does is his ability to translate a narrative, be it whimsical or sentimental without being a literal interpretation. For Dior’s Winter 2024 men’s collection, the House took viewers on a historical journey through the life of Monsieur Dior’s late uncle, a ballet dancer turned photographer. Here, Kim Jones brings together the world of ready-to-wear with haute couture adding his special brand of theatricality and utilitarian finishes. Single-breasted suits in muted tones walked alongside “second-skin” ribbed knits and duffle-inflected outerwear together with elegant leather pieces and woolen jumpsuits. The rich textiles of kimonos crafted with practiced hand techniques added to the flamboyance of the rather masculine collection. With couture interwoven with ready-to-wear pieces, perhaps Dior is choosing to focus on the details in a world of fast fashion and cyclical trends. Archive-inspired embroideries and utilitarian bags that amplify the existing House codes are further evidence that Dior doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel.
Pierpaolo Piccioli explored the characters of the modern man as Valentino continues to reflect on what shapes contemporary masculinity. Valentino’s Fall/Winter 2024 collection was a fresh take on traditional menswear and masculine wardrobe staples. Rather than redefine what we have come to know of menswear, Pierpaolo Piccioli instead made subtle tweaks. Adding on a double lapel to evoke the look of two blazers in one or playing with proportions from streamlined to oversized outerwear.
Rick Owen’s special take on apocalyptic style has garnered a legion of followers propelling the brand into stardom. Voluminous leather creations masterfully crafted with a utopian twist paired with balloon-like footwear and larger-than-life jumpers. Pieces were crafted from deconstructed bicycle tires to deliver boxy motorcycle jackets — a standout piece from the collection. Enveloping duvet coats and oversized alpaca capes along with bulbous necklines and rubber-pull boots played into the oversized silhouettes that we have come to know of as Rick Owen’s industrial signature style.
Artistic director Alessandro Sartori delivered versatile pieces that are interchangeable and can be transformed into an array of effortless individual looks. Key pieces from Zegna included the new Triple Stitch Monte Shoes and the Il Conte Jacket alongside the Oasi of Cashmere’s ever-evolving silhouettes which were seen in the collection through Sartori artful layering and a multi-dimensional approach to colour. The collection’s double-collared blazers, collarless anoraks and knitted tops suggest not only functionality but also provide a variety of adaptable pieces suited to a range of styles.
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