Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Menswear is Boring | Subtle Moves (like a creep on a dance floor) | Your Valet Should Know

I spent this afternoon combing through the menswear sections of nearly all of Seattle's finest clothiers. You see, for research purposes (and because I need a job and am considering selling other designer's duds as a quick fix) I thought it would be a good idea to hit up Mario's, Butch Blum, Nordstrom, Macy's, David Lawrence, Brooks Brothers, Kenneth Cole and Barney's to see what they had on the racks. I found very little variety. Like I had feared, the color palette in the spaces rarely extended beyond grey and black were it not for rows of neckties and pocket squares, or the womenswear in my periphery.

Luckily, the things I fondled were beautifully made and proved once again that though the immediate hit of typical high end men's fashion rarely feels like a bold maneuver, it is in fact more solid in form, shape, structure and history than most women's clothing. Gents have had a solid approach that they trust, and I admire and appreciate that.

My brain immediately started projecting the embellishment and decoration of the women's pieces onto the men's...a certain aesthetic gender blending that seemed to, in my mind at least, make for more exciting pieces. But, now that I consider myself a designer, I suppose it makes sense that I'd be toting around this "I would do it differently" attitude.

But I need to know, boys: What do you want? Do you ever find yourselves jealous of the color and variety present in women's clothing? Would a well placed ruffle or embroidered piece ever have a home in your chest of drawers? What would you do with color if you had every tint and shade at your fingertips? What would your valet say if your skirted frock coat were now lavender and tailored to be fuller, with a bit more flounce?


Anonymous Cory said...

Look at Gucci Spring '07, lots of color, and gender obliteration, Burberry is doing these great large rhinestone ebmellishments on scoop neck sweaters, Comme De Garcons is doing metallic chucks, Dirk Schonberger is totally changing the male silhouette with A-line jackets and tapered pants, Don't even get me started on Dior Homme, it's so frickin hot I can't stand it. The variety in cut and color is out there Mikey, it just takes some time for guys to feel okay wearing it.

11:00 AM  
Blogger mc said...

or money...

3:02 PM  
Blogger Kenneth said...

What I want, frankly, is a well-tailored gray suit.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Patrick said...

I have to say, I do LOVE me some grey (it may be my favorite color). But I also like me those deep colors. Putting all of my gender hangup rhetoric aside, I think that you can play with masculinity using dark colors with interesting structural differences and classic cuts with brighter colors. I agree with what you said about sturdy construction too...it's what sets us up as the dominant sex. But it's becoming fall-y so I would love to see a take off of a suit jacket (with some sweet embriodery, if you need sweatshop workers, let me know, I'm willing to barter some training for man hours) in some intensely dark color with a matching skirt. Think METALS!Remember, my kilt keeps me warmer than my pants do cause it alone contsitutes 3 layers over my danger-bits...just an fyi.

God I love dreaming up stuff I want you to dress me in.

Also I want to see some underwear...I need something soft and comfy that will support my junk and show off my new tattoo...think calvin klein cotton trunk. (pics on my lj)

12:48 PM  
Blogger mc said...

My love for grey extends far beyond that of other colors. Take my current profile pic, for instance. I would never lay claim to any one color or call just one my favorite, for I love them all so much (and color IS about context, afterall). A neutral palette has always sat well with me; it allows us to see whats going on with the structure of a garment instead of being swept away into some psychedelic wonderland at first glance. Tisk tisk Mr. Pucci! Menswear is clearly the supreme champion of a quiet palette. I suppose it has to do with strength, stability, power, yadda yadda yadda. I'm still left at odds with the whole idea from time to time. Maybe its the repetition of the same structures that bores me. The suit is heroic and beautiful, no doubt. But I think Patrick's plan to introduce something as a take off of the suit jacket. Of course this has happened before, but I cant seem to pull up the best examples right now.

Maybe the suitcase full of black wool in my living room will somehow provide some answers.

And I, for the record, do not plan to make lavender skirted frock coats any time soon. Chocolate brown worsted or melton with a lavender lining....THAT I can get behind.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Erk said...

If I may ride on your lavendar lining... I'm keen on surprising details. Say, a white button-down shirt with pink seams. Lavendar might be even better. Snaps instead of buttons, etc. Also, more 3/4 length sleeves. They're so practical and they soften the arm in a subtle but delightful way.

I also love your celebration of garments having a history-- being sweated in, worn, etc. Might you somehow address that in your design? Margiela-- now I'm riding on my hobby horse rather than your lining-- showed pieces colored with molds and bacteria which eventually destroyed the garments. He also (as do many these days) turns old garments into new ones. I don't mean to recommend these approaches but rather offer them as examples of how some designers prioritize the life (and decline) of clothes.

4:30 PM  
Blogger mc said...

I always think of the surprising details in terms of their relation to sex and the erotic appeal of a garment and its wearer. So many of these details are only understood once a garment is taken off...or when a collar is turned up, a sleeve rolled, or pants unzipped. These details are instantly not only a happy surprise for the wearer but also for anyone else lucky enough to have an extra-close look at the clothes.

In a 2000 collection, Miguel Adrover made a coat from the ticking of Quentin Crisp's mattress. (I have yet to find an image of the piece....can anyone help?) I think there's also something to be said for turning old garments into new ones, or old materials into new ones. I am generally tired of the revamped-old-stuff routine, but do like the idea of completely deconstructing something with a history, tucking that history into your own breast pocket, and taking the remaining bits and making something new.

I'll be doing this very soon when I reconstruct a vintage paper dress from the 60s into attachable men's shirt collars for an upcoming exhibition. Surely this experiment will shed some more light on the topic.

And I promise this is my last mention of Quentin Crisp for a while.

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Bergie B said...

Sometimes I get mad that colors or women's sneakers aren't availale for the dudes.

Hi Mikey.


7:14 AM  

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