January 27, 2016
2016 has gone off to a shaky start with big losses on the stock markets, oil prices in free fall and persistent security fears. As always, the world of fashion captures the zeitgeist well. The autumn winter 2016 men's collections are dominated by the themes of protection and escapism as a response to the approaching storm clouds, often elucidated with layers of storytelling.
Here is our pick of some of the more intriguing collections which may yet influence the world of design.
Dries van Noten shows the protective fist inside the velvet glove with military coats and 1940s-style jackets with oversized collars, all peppered with decorations that are almost psychedelic. Proof that romantic visions can have a hard edge.
The rich heritage of the storied fashion house has been brought bang up to date. Immaculately tailored jackets and coats with a hint of military influence are accessorised with fur-trimmed belts, scarves with lucky charms and monograms inspired by old trunk stamps. These are uniforms for aristocratic refugees, slick travellers with rich back stories.
Raf Simons' first collection since he unexpectedly left Christian Dior is a quirky vision of the American dream turned nightmare. There are college baseball jackets which have morphed into moth-eaten capes as well as comically oversized sweaters and puff jackets threatening to overwhelm skinny trouser legs. This is a brilliant escape from reality but to a place perhaps even stranger and more dangerous than reality.
Times are tough and the clothes show it. Thom Browne's story of how gentlemen lived through the Great Depression was cleverly told by presenting every outfit in three versions - brand new, slightly worn and completely knackered. That the most threadbare garments often look the best is perhaps the moral of the story: quality, love and care will overcome even the ravage of time.
Junya Watanabe took the idea of protection to its functional extreme with immaculately tailored jackets fitted with multiple utility pockets and double-breasted trench coats fitted with solar panels which power up mobile devices. Survival has never looked so chic.
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