Patchwork Charlies and Priests at Junya Watanabe, Ann Demeulemeester and Maison Martin Margiela

Published January 19, 2013

 

Junya Watanabe focused on tailoring this season, but he managed to insert his workwear passion by styling jackets like handymen’s overalls, complete with tool pockets, topstitching, and stress patching. Classic menswear fabrics, boiled to shrink and wrinkle, are covered with a tapestry of patches, a celebration of hard-scrabble elegance worn like honor badges. The character who comes to mind here is Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp—a resemblance stressed by the pencil mustaches and bowler hats on the models. And in true make-do style, Watanabe layered tailoring, down, workwear, and sailor-stripe T-shirts in an artful jumble, as though his Charlies had piled on all their wearables simultaneously.

To dress or not to dress is the challenge designers have been throwing at men lately, and one clever way to skirt the issue is by finding femininity in classic men’s clothes. Ann Demeulemeester managed this beautifully by slipping into priest’s robes. This non-drag dressing brought out the flowing lines in elegantly tailored coats, huge tunic vests, full-length hooded anoraks, angora sweater sheaths, soft bows, furry collars, and wide-brim hats with veils. In graphic black and white, the ecclesiastical turn made a very theatrical production, and a great backdrop for Demeulemeester’s romantic tailored jackets that carry on with or without skirts.

The clean tailoring that opened Masion Martin Margiela’s show looks like what most stylish men would want, and that is the brand’s focus these days. But a closer look reveals that the MMM team are still up to their old hijinks, as apparently several of the suits were made all in one piece.

More overt examples of Margiela’s trademark repurposing came in patchwork, mixed-fur coats and giant ponchos constructed from pieces of leather blazers and biker jackets, a blouson in teddy-bear shearling, and sweaters incorporating dozens of others, cut up and stitched back together like a mosaic.