VALENTINO: UNEXPECTED CONTRASTS
Inspiration: Adventure as a form of self-examination and, most notably, as told through the words of American writer and outdoor enthusiast, Jon Krakauer — "The core of man's spirit comes from new experiences."
Soundtrack: The existential anthem, How Soon Is Now? by The Smiths, with its searing chorus: "I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does."
The collection: Prima facie, a seemingly disconnected offering of unexpected contrasts — the chic opening full-black looks featuring sumptuous double-cashmere Couture blazers; the ostentation of a wolf fur stole worn beneath a military trench (look 40); the weathered feel of burnished brown leather jackets (looks 44 and 45); and the tribal vibe of geometric Navajo patterns emblazoned across billowing ponchos (looks 49, 56 and 70) and a shearling intarsia jacket (look 75). But, when considered in the context of the collection's inspiration and soundtrack, it was clear that designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli were presenting a wardrobe for the man on a journey of discovery; both literally and figuratively. Hence the creative license to design anachronistically. The fil rouge? Denim by way of five-pocket jeans and studded trucker jackets.
Favourite looks: It was easily the black embellished foursome of a beaded double-breasted blazer (look 17), beaded knee-length overcoat (look 18); beaded zip-up blouson (look 19), and a beaded wide-collar jacket (look 20) — all referencing the Pearly Kings for a masculine edge.
I spy: Neck scarfs worn with scarf rings and layered with long pendant necklaces. A styling tip to try at home.
LEMAIRE: FUNCTIONALITY AND FUSION
Location and set: The historic Ecole de Médecine replete with Ionic columns served as Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran's FW16 show stage, where models exited through a stairway draped in the design duo's offering — low-key, stripped-down, and as always, the building blocks of a wardrobe.
The collection: Hybrids. This time, the designers proffered a collection not simply distinguished in its individualistic design details — like the staggered pleating on trousers for spring/summer — but, made headway in establishing their own paradigm of menswear. The pieces in question: A denim jacket with contrasting stitching (look 29) constructed to resemble a vest layered over the outerwear itself, and a button-down chalk white turtleneck (look 30) — all styled in the signature Lemaire tone-on-tone and monochrome colour scheme.
Try it now: Lemaire and Tran really championed the significance of outerwear this fall/winter 2016. With an article of clothing like the shirt-jacket that markets itself (it's a shirt and a jacket in one for crying out loud) central to the collection, the designers did away with the archytepal first layer in many an ensemble (looks 11, 23 & 26).
Buro loves: The elegance of the skinny scarf, the tool to engineering the perfect suit-jacket-sans-shirt ensemble (looks 13 & 27).
RAF SIMONS: OVERSIZED AND UNDERSIZED
The collection: Supersized in all aspects — V-necks plunged deeper, shoulder dartings sloped downwards, and hemlines demonstrated the power of gravity. It's no surprise that designer Raf Simons' fall/winter 2016 collection was titled 'Nightmares and Dreams' — the recent former creative director of Dior has an appetite for exploring the macabre. Between the sunken cheeks and vacant stares of the models and the destroyed 'moth-eaten' knits, Simons also demonstrated lampshading in good taste.
Leitmotif: Giving new meaning to the oversized jumper and as a first for the puffer jacket and checked detective trench (looks 8, 9 & 13), the hefty uppers hung over stovepipes cut high. A trend rife amongst the reality TV unmentionables (did we say Kardashians?), here's lampshading for a whole new purpose: Challenging the core of reputable tailoring and questioning the need for overt masculinity — not the rationalisation of a beyond leggy display.
I spy: Skinny scarfs that unlike the ones at Lemaire, were styled off-centre in varying lengths (looks 5 & 33), presenting an alternative to the rakish ascot.
In contast: To the entire supersized offering, the second to final look ricocheted to the opposite end of the spectrum: A shrunken and destroyed jumper was styled snugly over a button down shirt, worn by the only model in the line-up with a chin-grazing bob (look 37). If fall/winter 2016 was Simons' two cents worth on the trending topic of gender fluidity, trust the designer to execute his monologue like none before himself.
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