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I Rant, You Read: Beauty, In The Eye Of The Bedecked - Fall 2018 European Mens Collections Review

Does menswear denote beautiful?  Is that even a word that should be associated with menswear?  And what is beauty after all?  One's person's tall, dark & handsome can certainly draw skepticism from someone else's delight in the short, fair & freckled.  One's pressed, steamed and starched ending could be the canvas waiting to be darned, exaggerated and distressed for another.  There has been a growing momentous shift towards redefining the beautiful, the appropriate and the acceptable.  The momentum behind it seems to be a push to see beauty in all things and for all persons albeit that where the examination stems from is still largely visual in nature.  A key behind this stance seems to be something I've spoken about in past rants.  Exhaustion!  The crumbling face of austere politics, the collective shout of marginalized voices and the desperate efforts to hold onto pseudo-legacies all feed into fashion's ingestion of the signs of the times.  To perpetually be cajoled to accept obvious societal fallacies is exhausting. To consistently be expected to turn a blind eye to overt realities is exhausting.  One's exhaustion could very well be blamed on another's point of view or just highlight one's apathy. 

Fashionably speaking, one could very well say that the pretty little system of fashion much like the world it tries to interpret through broadcloth and brocade is not as collectively beautiful as it once was.  Or perhaps it still is beautiful, but the hands who've dictated what beautiful always was now have to share the thrown with a global band of influentials that defiantly assert that conventional beauty is not so much so anymore.  This assertion creates a broader, more accepting and diverse fashion cycle to some and a beginning of the end to others.  Admittedly, I was one of those who saw armageddon on the horizon at first, but then I had to delve deeper to remind myself about of one of fashion's principles.  Fashion serves as a direct interpretation of society through dressing and adornment.  However, as the individual voice became louder globally, the system that once dictated like a monarch had to share its throne with the influence of style and its skewed lines, which given the amount of expressive folks globally, doesn't fit so neatly into a box, a season, a collection or a preordained definition of beauty so easily.  

It took some examining, but the Fall/Winter 2018 European Menswear Collections that ended in Paris a few days ago still had the conventionally pretty or archetypical handsome, but there were a growing number of designers that offered clothing designed and styled to get nods of approval from those men who say 'eh' to the typical.  One's assertion to it being the way a man brings life to clothes & accessories is another's declaration that the clothes still make the man.  Perhaps that's where style comes in.  The clothes have been offered, now make them into something not by the cut of its cloth, but because of the cut of your cloth.  There were many interesting collections from London to Milan to Paris for Fall/Winter 2018 that showcased the beauty in the conflicts of youth & age, tailored & casual, trim & oversized and hyped & brooding. 

The cartoon homage coaxing the Peter Pan from within the modern man at Bobby Abbley, the moody technical chic from A Cold Wall and the plaid tailored full cut overcoats that took many center stages in London were of a delightfully adult note but made playful and youthful when paired with puddling trousers like at Qasimi, Astrid Andersen and Alex Mullins. The blanket-cushy mosaic-like sportswear at Craig Green segued nicely over into a surprisingly exuberant and refreshing Milan.  Fendi was in great form with a cheeky whimsy added to lush textures, irreverent color and learned adult shapes.  The oddly kinetic conflicted print and color mash-ups proved a provocatively fresh stance for Ms. Prada while Neil Barrett's boys were trimly tailored with great military & workwear bearing a young cadet vibe.  The autumnal balance of sweet colors knitted together in luxe adoration at Missoni and the endearing unkempt nerdy ease at Marni rounded out marking what could be a very retail friendly season for the empire Milan.   It all ended with a lanky and layered Paris.  Styling was key here and the bevy of sumptuous full shapes swinging from shoulders and pooling around legs at shows like Lanvin, Icosae, Hermes and Lemaire were like modernized power suits with an early Armani-esque fluidity.  The disproportionately craggy clashed but intriguing layers at Y Project, Vetements, WooYoungMi and Sacai were bizarely attractive and welcomingly odd and created segues to the stories of young avant romanticisms from Demeulemeester & Margiela, perfect kaleidoscopic print & explosions in soft tailoring from Van Noten and shellacked and otherworldly surface treatments from Jones' last go-round at Louis Vuitton.

Perhaps it's to be said that we sometimes see the polished, formulaic and beautiful so much so that we no longer really notice it.  There's a wisdom of thought, a collective understanding if you will, that we've had beauty, prescribed rituals and set-in-stone rules crammed down our throats for so long that some of us are, well, exhausted.  In a society and world where what was once held as platform and standard is coming apart at the seams, there is a push now to expand our perspectives and our established normative of what is the status quo of beauty, dress and adornment.  Evidence of this is the embracing of non-Western, unconventional and often considered ugly cultural themes in mainstream menswear.  The lines, the formulas, the techniques and the craftsmanship of menswear is still all cherished, but what's being proven more today is that it's the personal diversities, lives and  stories breathed into it once exiting the atelier that makes it a thing of beauty.

*Photos courtesy of, and

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