Thursday, 26 January 2012

Let's Hear It For The Boys

       As we find ourselves in the midst of admiring the current crop of couture, from Lagerfeld's latest what-is-it-exquisite Chanel collection to Versace's much anticipated return to the week of high-fashion, it seems only right to take a second, breathe and look back at what has been two brilliant weeks of innovative design and seamless excellence for men's fashion. Put the girls on pause and give us men the stylistic attention which we deserve. Let's, in true Footloose style, hear it for the boys.

       Now for many a man fashion is still somewhat of a second thought. Whilst the majority of us are more style conscious than ever, our appreciation and care for men's fashion, shows and designers themselves still leaves something to be desired. This is, after all, reflected not only by ourselves but by our news-stands, which host many a magazine devoted mainly to women's fashion but few focused mainly on men's. Although the likes of GQ and Esquire do feature clothe-devoted columns, they do not centre solely on fashion. There is no male fashion bible.
        However, with men's designs continuing to rival women's in the fashion sakes, it would seem that it is our turn to leave the past behind us and pay attention to the attention which we in turn are being given by designers. From playful yet sophisticated chic on the catwalks of Milan to quirky yet trend-setting elegance on the runways of  Paris, the two cities have provided us with an abundance of designs to gaze at and enjoy come AW 2012-13, whatever our personal styles may be.


     If there is one thing which the AW 2012-13 shows in Milan have given us, it's choice. From Versace's fluorescent florals and selection of wear me again-and-again coats to Andrea Pompilio' humorous yet smart day to night designs, there is plenty for the more extrovert among us to play with - apes and all. And of course, even for the more reserved of us there are more muted designs to take comfort in. Burberry for one has provided us with something a little more simplistic than its counterparts. Its sharp takes on traditional suits are completely inoffensive and that quilted emerald gilet is sure to make many a man happy come our AW showers.


      Whilst Milan has given us choice, Paris has given us texture. From eccentric needlework to minimalistic cuts, men's fashion is set to be filled with texture come next AW. Be it at Yves Saint Laurent, where Stefano Pilati has delved into cross texturing with his leather-cotton basics or at Jean Paul Gaultier, where Gaultier  has embraced texture in his own innovative set of patchwork pieces, texture is at the forefront of Parisian fashion. Even in the midst of Raf Simon's tongue and cheek school boy image, there is texture in his layering, something which all of us guys can easily do whether it's now or next winter.

      So there we have it a snippet of what Men's fashion weeks have to offer...but that's all it is a snippet and it's up to us men not to shy away from fashion but to embrace it, find out our favourite designers and follow them because they, like art and literature, can make our lives that little bit more interesting.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Skin We Live In

       Skin - it's something which we love and something which we hate (and something which one day we'll probably donate) because skin, like Rihanna's infamous selection of haircuts and Britain's weather, is fickle. Just when we think it's going to be as clear as day it decides to rain on our parade and splash us with spots, dimples, cuts you name it. Our brief modelesque complexions fade away and suddenly we find ourselves looking as though we ought to be posing in the before picture of a Neutrogena advert. 
      However, when our skin isn't acting up like some sort of moody teenager, it is our friend because skin like a pair of newly waxed legs or a freshly shaven face is a weapon of attraction. Not only does it define our looks but it is innate to our smell, our touch and of course ourselves. Even if we don't show it all off as David Gandy does regularly on the Dolce and Gabbana catwalk, our skin lures people into us, our looks and the lives we lead. 

       Yet as gorgeous as Gandy's skin and body undoubtedly are, and let's face it they are, often what is more interesting about fashion is not our skin as a whole but the skin which we choose to show. A tactical flash of skin wherever it may be is often more intriguing if not more attractive than skin it's entirety. It teases us without completely pleasing us. It gives us a glimpse of a person's body with the result that it leaves us longing for more. It allows our skin to become a tool of seduction, a tool of temptation.
       And it is this skin, which changes and mutates season after season as designers suggest and reflect which areas of the body we might deem attractive through the means of their designs; they play with what is conventionally shown and hidden by clothes. From Givenchy's breast exposing couture to Louis Vuitton's ankle skimming circle skirts fashion has played with each and every peekaboo possibility, showing us almost all skin with its own imagination and presenting us with nearly no skin in order that our own imaginations may run wild.

      Of course this season is no different as fashion finds a new part of the skin to focus on in the months to come after AW- the midriff. Something which, whilst it may not possess the most fortunate of names and is certainly not for the most faint-hearted of people, can be utterly enticing. The midriff is to the body the awkward kid at school who no-one notices. Hidden in obscurity it goes unthought-of and yet when let loose on the world it can succeed, often more so than its counterparts.
       One need only look at SS's array of midriff options to see that the awkward kid really can turn out popular after all. Whether its in the form of Proenza Schouler's quirky pencil skirt combos or Prada's 'Vintage Americana' classic throwbacks, Emilio Pucci's gypsy skirt beauties or Miu Miu's vampire inspirations, Nina Ricci's ethereal outfits or Roland Mouret's slick cut-out designs, the midriff is out on parade in  all its forms.

       It's daring and it's beautiful but the question is come SS will you have the confidence to forget about your inhibitions and put yours out on show? That Prada pencil skirt does look rather inviting after all...doesn't it?

Monday, 9 January 2012

New Year, New Age

        As a new year begins and we find ourselves making new year's resolutions...and breaking them, trying out new and interesting things...and giving them up - one thing remains certain: our age. We are all another year older and if luck would have it each and everyone of us is another year wiser. Our styles have become more developed, our opinions more concrete and our interests more certain.
        And as 2012 starts it would seem that this age is staring at us straight in the face - Beyoncé is now no longer the young cute, teen, lead-singer of Destiny's Child she used to be but the beautiful, inspiring mother of the wish-you-were-her Blue Ivy Carter. She has grown up, as has Arizona Muse who is no longer the young baby mama trying to break it in the modelling industry which she once was but this month's Vogue cover star and fashion's much awed at muse of the moment.

       All of us have aged. However, it is this age which seems to cause a constant problem in fashion and in life. Muse's British Vogue cover debut has already sparked much controversy for looking too old. Whilst some people find the 50s housewife-esque image kitsch and appealing others find it tried and dull. The harsh make up along with the scenario makes Muse look old; it's her effortless smile which combats this - that, her quiff and the perfect movement of her delectable Prada skirt. God forbid she look too old.
        It's a fact of life though that when we're younger we want to look older (or maybe just like someone with i-D who happens to be older) and when we're older we want to look younger. Regardless of who we are, there seems to be some sort of eternal appeal about being in your late teens come early twenties. It is some sort of perfect age, in which the world is our oyster and physically we are at our peaks. In some sort of ideal parallel universe we would remain this age forever just as Elle Macpherson somehow manages to do today.

      She's 47...I know. Yet Macpherson is one of a kind in that she is 'The Body' and for most of us ageing like her is as likely as scrunchies coming back into fashion next season. It's not going to happen even if we do eat and exercise like she does. It is something which bar the use of a costly knife we cannot control and something which we needn't because no matter what we do, one day we will all have wrinkles...even Elle. One day we will all be old.
      The trick, however, is not to focus on our  actual age throughout our lives but to ignore it; to live the age we feel in 2012 and onwards. Attend lavish parties, dress amazingly and have fun. This mindset invigorates us so that, regardless of appearance our inner age and outer style radiates past our wrinkles. It exemplifies us for who we are and is the reason why the likes of Franca Sozzani, Grace Coddington and Carine Roitfeld still look so amazing today.

        They are the ages which they feel not 61, 70 and 57 respectively and in an age in which laws exist which are too old we needn't feel too old; I am 17.of course you will no doubt be thinking I am not too old but neither is Karl Lagerfeld, he is 78 and he is not too old. It's time for us to accept our inner ages and enjoy them and then maybe come Sozzani, Coddington or Roitfeld's age we might not look or feel quite so old after all.

Anti gay marriage laws in Australia and across the world are too old. 
Repost this video, sign the petition and inform others.
 Whatever your age you are not too old to make a difference.