Of course, as with any season you may have a common theme. And while the European menswear shows were not without themes, it seems that the more prevalent common theme was more of an attitude rather than an anorak. There was a definite appeal for confident men to step out of the box all within the confines of good, well-made menswear. Couple this with a call for men to dress out of individual purpose and intellect and not necessarily by the rules. These things together with strong runway styling for the shows made the irreverent layering and strong tailoring seem like a new plausible direction to get men buying and moving forward.
A velvet blazer with voluminous trousers by Lucas Ossendrijver for Lanvin
Irreverent layering you ask? Yes. Designers such as Phillip Lim for his 3.1 line and Lucas Ossendrijver for Lanvin showed tunic like tops paired under jackets and tailored jackets layered under shorter puffer coats. Ann Demeulemeester slashed and cut away her jackets to make it seem like jacket hems, vests and trouser tops were dancing in a collage and in unexpected fabrics like shearling cut as inner-wear rather than outerwear. Paul Smith livened up his layering with vibrant textured sweater coats shown over blazers. Viktor & Rolf had jacket bottoms peaking out from under sportier outerwear on top almost like peplums, but the soft cozy textures made you not even mind. Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy continued his march into disbanding common stereotypes of masculinity by showing strong confident clothing on his not so waif-ish models. Givenchy approached layering with close cut shrunken outerwear under still close cut American staples like a woolen jean jacket or a longer car coat length jacket worn under a lambskin waist-length puffer vest.
Leather varsity jacket under short sleeved jean jacket by Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy
A slashed and cut jacket from Ann Demeulemeester
Strong tailoring you ponder? Almost every designer showed a jacket of some form with the popular style for fall 2011 being the double-breasted jacket in a leaner confident 70's cut, nipped at the waist and with a closer button stance. The overcoat wasn't spared either. Gucci payed homage to its legacy and the Tom Ford years with an chic collection of suits and outerwear in both double & single breasts and wools & skins that call to mind the sleeker, sexier 70's complete with what I call puddle bottom hems with uber-generous breaks. Ermenegildo Zegna also stuck to its strong tailoring story but had a bit more fun this season with livelier more sumptuous colors like a lambskin button-down in bordeaux or a chocolate and camel shearling-lined shrunken toggled sweater coat. And speaking of coats, grab a few for this fall since every designer not only showed coats but did so with consideration for every kind of way a guy gets cold. Christopher Bailey for Burberry Prorsum borrowed from the mack daddy vibe of the 70's, the traditional vibe of those cheeky Brits and a modern snowboard vibe all under his seasoned progressive eye in a collection centered around the strength of the coat. Raf Simons showed a collection of strong silhouettes for his signature line and for Jil Sander. Simons added rounded volume and welcomed color to classic menswear staples as the anorak, toggle and car coats. It left you with a fresh feeling of the future of menswear shaping as he balanced his coats on slouchy voluminous cut trousers for his signature and tailored slim cuts for Jil.
A 70's styled tweed overcoat with fur collar by Burberry Prorsum
A modernized toggle coat worn with a sweater tunic style by Raf Simons
Finally, not only was the tailoring strong in its execution but also allowed for some pushing of ideas. I touched on Raf, but Junya Watanabe showed a great collection of blazers inspired by menswear staples such as alpine sweaters, the waxed hunting jacket and the ivy league varsity jacket. Trussardi 1911 showed well-executed ways for treating leather as a second skin with items such as lambskin tees. Rick Owens continued to push the envelope with his bizarrely strong asymmetrical pieces while Neil Barrett showed an impressive collection of 'scuba-esque' pants and outerwear that played on texture and tone through color-blocking. And just when you thought your swig of low-waists, high tops and body conscious outerwear, knits and fitted fare wouldn't be cared for, DSquared, D&G and Dirk Bikkembergs topped your plate with the youthful, exuberant expressions they're synonymous for. Also of note was a fresh collection of great cable knits in tunic and sweater coat style from Pringle of Scotland and a streamlined cleanly revamping of a 60's-70's beatnik vibe at Prada. All in all, whatever your angle it seems fall 2011 has got it from 0 to 360.
*All sketches by D. White
An alpine sweater becomes a tailored blazer by Junya Watanabe