The flow of fashion culture from the West to the male youth of Asia turned in the opposite direction in Katie Chung’s Spring collection. Based in Seoul, the epicenter of a generation of clued-up, hyper stylish boys, she brought the energy of City Pop, a cult style and music revival, to her show in Paris. “City Pop took off in Japan in the ’70s and ’80s, when the economy was booming. Kids looked to American lifestyles in Miami, L.A., and Hawaii and wanted some of it. They invented this whole jazz-electronic New Wave fusion of their own, with a beach-in-the-city look and Hockney-like posters,” she explained. “For a long time, people thought it was uncool. Now kids have started listening to it again there’s a whole underground City Pop thing going on. But,” she added, “of course, every revival looks different boys are wearing it in their own modern way.”Chung turned it out as a merge of Hawaiian palm-tree shirts, tie-dye, and ’40s-’70s Deco prints, layered into the kind of tailoring you see lanky groups of Korean boys wearing around Seoul Fashion Week. K-pop standards of male fashion-consciousness have upped the ante on dressing well throughout Asia. Wooyoungmi’s long track record in tailoring fits right in with that specific thirst for innovation—Chung’s oversize brown-and-white-checked shorts suit with a matching coat; her elongated jackets with wide fluid pants. The latter silhouette is the trend of the season in Paris menswear, of course. Hawaiian shirts too. That eye for what’s right is applicable internationally. although Woolrich has yet to secure the necessary city permits, the plan is that its soon-to-open New York store will feature a “weather room” in which shoppers will be able to test-drive garments in temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius. Florence right now and New York in August (when that store opens its doors) seem like ideal locations for a walk-in refrigerator such as that planned by creative director Andrea Cane. As Stefano Saccone, the company’s newly installed CEO observed over a slice of pizza post-presentation, Woolrich is “a big Q4 business” which is executive for “It sells like crazy when the weather turns nasty.”
Woolmark Prize nominee (and Copenhagen resident) Willy Chavarria returned to the runway circuit for Spring 2020, having skipped the Fall 2019 season. “I mean…summer, scheduling, it was the right time to get back. But I also think it doesn’t necessarily need to be a show, season after season.” He’s a fringe figure in New York City fashion, and he’s benefitted from keeping an arm’s-length attitude as his profile has grown. With Spring, he went for a “new take” on minimalism, but one that pulled from a transcontinental party scene in the ’90s particularly a nightclub he used to run in San Francisco called The Love Garage, which would see an influx of a more New York-centric clientele and wardrobe. “Everything became a little slicker and darker.” Part one of this collection featured long jackets in black satin, mesh shirts in black, generously cut jeans in extra-processed washes, and a top that graphically spelled out “Breaking News,” befitting of…well, the hyper-evolution of the 24-hour news cycle from Chavarria’s chosen timeframe right up to yesterday’s latest Mueller hearing. The second portion of his lineup saw a collaboration with K-Swiss, which Chavarria called an “aspirational brand as a kid growing up in California,” and here the mood turned to late-’80s-workout-video neons and layering. These pieces will sell, but the first half was stronger. Chavarria’s most notable strength rests in his calibration of queerness and masculinity (especially so when that calibration involves his Chicano background). Yet there is something resolutely femme, too, in the afterburn. He mentioned that gender fluidity doesn’t have to be androgynous or genderless. These clothes had that code in place; satin dressing-room bombers over bare, muscled chests, or cropped boxy shirts as tops, worn with the aforementioned denim. In some ways, you could see hints of what the men wear on the current hit TV show Pose, though that program takes place a few years earlier than the ’90s. But the look, and its progression, absolutely resonates now. Chavarria is a smart, worldly creative who knows how to be all-inclusive while still carving out his own distinct M.O.; it all feels very true.
Despite being a label so linked to the outdoors, White Mountaineering’s Paris shows have only ever taken place indoors, which always felt a little incongruous. Today, the covered-yet-open-air terrace of a Sorbonne University building was a game-changer; what a difference a breeze makes! The models didn’t need to be trail running or BMX biking two of the extreme sports that inspired Yosuke Aizawa this season for the audience to imagine guys wearing his high-impact looks off the runway. The Tokyo-based designer explained that he imbues pieces with a “discord ambiance,” which might mean anything from a T-shirt boasting overlaid letters spelling nothing to Gore-Tex outerwear paired with linen pants. These “coincidences,” as he also called them, were a way of integrating pieces that wouldn’t normally be found in either athletic attire or streetwear think classic shirting adapted with technical straps and pleated shorts that looked more like skorts. Aizawa goes through phases of favoring bold prints, and today’s lush and color-saturated botanicals might have been his boldest yet. If common sense would suggest these have limited interest, the designer has pointed out before that people are very happy to experiment beyond black (although those pieces too were hardly boring). Plaid, animal spots, paisley, and painterly camo made for a particularly dynamic lineup of active eccentrics guys who not only sported next-level sneaker designs, but also a smear of colorful eye makeup. Compared to the Sacai show earlier in the day, White Mountaineering isn’t perceived with the same cachet despite many overlapping elements (both mastered their soundtracks, it should be said). Make no mistake, Aizawa’s vision is his own and if athleisure trends start to shift towards these dandy-ish mash-ups, we’ll have him to thank. Walter Van Beirendonck called the clothes in this showing of kinky sportswear deluxe “Alien Vintage” and said that the collection was designed to attire his fantasy community of extraterrestrials. As he mused in his notes: “I pictured being introduced to a small part of the alien folk, a community with such a limitless diversity of forms and looks.” Those forms included four-armed biped, as evinced by outfits with two extra sleeves below the armpit, and aliens with fearsomely hunky quads as per the cool gathered baggy pants in primary-color nylon.
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