One Last Look at Mens: Lanvin, Raf Simons, Hermes

Published January 25, 2012

Raf Simons has always run with the boys. Let’s give credit where credit is due: the elongated, adolescent vision in the street-cast shows that launched his eponymous label in Paris in the mid-90’s was the precursor for the new skinny that changed not only the way men dressed, but also their bodies. Boyishness has become a fixture in creative menswear ever since. Simons returned to youth for his fall show, but this time it’s baby fresh and billowing in the wind. With an ode to knee pants, this show presented a dizzying display of bankable style innovations that prove he remains the man with the ideas. Glistening synthetic like a freshly mowed lawn in boxy coat jackets worn with tight knee pants and bucket stocking caps made his models look like long, tall toddlers. Simons makes a convincing proposition with tunics, styled like overcoats, belted over matching knee pants and worn with a white shirt and a tie like a new dressy suit.

At Lanvin, Alber Elbaz and Lucas Ossendrijver tweaked the tailoring. Lanvin’s archingly peaked lapels and waist ties which hold jackets dashingly open look like a sort of souped-up ’30s take in bright colors like teal or jailhouse stripes. Floaty, high waist trousers have a Fred Astaire ready-to-dance look and they’re worn with jackets carved out at the waist and rounded at the shoulder to Popeye extremes.

When price is no object, it’s materials rather than shapes that take center stage. And Hermès was a case with the classic blouson in astrakhan and crocodile for men who have everything. As if that wasn’t enough, the croc continued for shirts and pants and astrakhan showed in a three-quarters dressing gown coat, the ultimate in laid-back excess.

It would have been very difficult to imagine that Antwerp’s impish menswear designer Walter Van Beirendonck and America’s strict and cropped Thom Browne would ever find themselves on the same fashion boat, but a shared love of punk and bondage put them both in a mood for face masks and studs this time around. Browne’s studly tour de force, which includes everything from plaid stud punk jeans to heavy metal suits, showed him stretching—literally padding the buns and biceps—to Superman-meets-Frankenstein extremes. Van Beirendonck was also feeling the menace. Every face in his show was covered with a Stephen Jones mask—in plaid, or flesh tones with a spear through the nose. After that he treated tailoring like abstract art, color blocking big circles over the fronts of jackets, vests and shirts to create an eerie, clownish void.