– By Khahlil Louisy

 

New York Fashion Week: Men’s ended as quietly as it started last Monday. The three day-long event, which began with it’s usual first day dedicated to smaller collections shown in presentation format, and called New York Men’s Day, was followed by two days of runway shows and additional presentations. Still, the men’s shows are no match for the spectacles surrounding the women’s shows, which kicked-off on February 8th and will go on till Wednesday, when Marc Jacobs closes out the New York show season for Fall/Winter 2018.

Left to right: looks from Bode and David Hart

 

So what did we learn during the three-day event? Ugly is in. No, really, I don’t write this to be mean. Designers quite literally either designed pieces meant to look ugly, or styled to look ugly. Like David Hart, whose American enfants traveled to Paris for cultural lessons, but missed the styling memo and threw things on together based on assumptions of what it means to be artsy in the French capital – a beret here, a pair of paint-splattered jeans there, the marinière shirt – though in either white or red stripes (can it still be called Marinière then?), all worn with Timberland boots. Ugly indeed, together, but separately, they’re all very wearable wardrobe essentials.

Same for Bode, where a grandma patchwork quilt somehow became a pair of trousers and which would haunt me well into next season, if not for the storytelling ability of Emily Bode. For this season, she worked with a quilt dealer in Massachusetts and showed the collection in a lived-in, home-esque set, complete with potted plants, closets, and dinner tables. Shown in this setting, the clothes took on an air of comfort, nostalgia, and homeliness. And in rocky and uncertain times like these, it made the clothes very relevant and desirable.

Lots of show goers wore huge, chunky, and very ugly sneakers – a trend I desperately need to rescind back into the depths of hell whence came.

Left to right: Runway looks from Raf Simons, Joseph Abbboud, and Tom Ford

 

Then there were the power player collections, glamorous and sleek, like at Joseph Abboud whose Old Hollywood inspired collection was the definition of elegance and Boss menswear played up to their usual smart tailoring. Same for Project Life Creations, a small west-coast brand who showed on the New York Fashion Week schedule for the first time. A brown color-blocked coat stood out, as did a Houndstooth overcoat. Tailoring appears to be the brand’s strength. Tom Ford did not fuck around, staging a separate for his menswear this season and neither did Raf Simons, who sparked conversations about drug culture among the youth. Without these two, New York Fashion Week would have been a rather banal non-event.

We shouldn’t forget Willy Chavarria, though, the west-coast transplant whose Chicano heritage  and upbringing serves as inspiration for his collections. Later that night, the first thing Eric Rutherford asked me when we ran into each other at the CFDA and Cadillac House’s Opening Night party to celebrate Jonathan Meizler’s Title of Work, was what my thoughts were on the collection. He had been moved by it and I was glad I went to the show, after stylist Garth Condit told me that it was a must-see, earlier in the year. I think that the real story was the theme of the collection, which delved into the idea of having faith in humanity and how we perceive the people around us.

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Speaking of, the CFDA’s Opening Night’s party at Cadillac House was a grand affair, which celebrated Jonathan Meizler, whose “Title of Work” will take up residence in the Retail Lab. In attendance were CFDA President, Steven Kolb, NFL Wide-Receiver, Dale Moss, NBA player WIlly Hernangomez, actor Corey Michael Smith and the fashion “It” boys, like Eric Rutherford and Logan Horne. Attendees gathered around poker tables and with their best straight faces, in an attempt to win as many chips as possible, which could then be redeemed for “Title of Work” merch.

Despite what the whisperings are, men’s fashion continues to trudge on in New York City. Though if I am to be honest, we will need to figure out a way to infuse more energy and life into an event that is meant to be a celebration of American fashio designers. If London can figure it out, so too can we.