Last week Raf Simons left Dior after only three and a half year tenure. Some weeks before that, Alexander Wang exited Balenciaga. Both designers cited the desire to concentrate on their own brands as the main reason for leaving and made the obligatory public statements of gratitude to their corporate employers. But some in the fashion press took the opportunity to voice the old refrain – the fashion system is broken and it needs to be fixed.
“Nothing,” answered a prominent New York buyer when I asked her what she liked during this past men’s fashion week. While I wouldn’t go this far, the Spring/Summer 2016 season was decidedly mixed. The overarching question, which began forming in my head during the first day of shows in Paris was, “What makes a good collection?” Is it the theme or its execution? Do we look for a designer to tell an interesting story, to interpret a theme worth exploring through clothes, or to produce beautiful, interestingly constructed garments? Ideally, both.
We would like to present to you Raf Simons’ Spring/Summer 2016 men’s collection.
Everyone who goes through his formative years in a certain decade considers it the golden age. Obviously, the 90s were the best decade ever.
But let’s go beyond facetiousness. In terms of cultural production it is obvious that every decade has the good and the bad. What is more interesting is how much of the good and how much of the bad the zeitgeist of every decade produces, and what gets to hit the mainstream. Why 90s matter is that it was the decade when culture, and fashion as part of culture, took the last stand before succumbing to pure, unapologetic commerce.
Let me get something out of the way – though my writing is critical more often than not, I don’t particularly enjoy blasting fashion. So, it is with a certain elation I would like to report that this past men’s fashion week in Paris was one of the strongest I’ve seen in a while.
For me it began last Wednesday night when Haider Ackermann presented his most convincing collection yet. Everything seemed to coalesce – from the muted but rich color palette to lush fabrics to nonchalant styling. It was presented at the Galleria museum, and the presentation and the clothes were just the right shade of decadence, a fantasy world of the rich and idle whose saving grace is impeccable education and impeccable manners.