Friday, November 28, 2008

San Francisco Street - Long Lost Photos

Images by Vanguard - San Francisco

Life has been crazy as my time has been consumed with another (much bigger and top secret) fashion project that I’m hoping to be able to share with you all soon. Completely neglecting a blog, however, I would not; menswear eye candy may come less frequently but never will it stop.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Runway - Marni: Fall 2008

I was very excited to see the layering that Marni created for this fall as, similar to the Thom Brown show, it explored new men’s proportions. Unfortunately, although Thom Brown’s show was perhaps a bit costumey, it may be more relevant than Marni. This is because Marni relied on cropped turtlenecks which sadly harkens back to an age of mid-rift baring Shania Twain. Instances like this make me wish fashion wasn’t so closely tied to perception (this would also allow me to wear all those sweaters people confuse as my Jedi costume). At least we can learn something from the Marni show – men would look really good as 90’s country divas…oh, and a line directly below the chest is a great place to divide men’s silhouettes when longer torso proportions are in use.

Repeat an idea much?

Ok, at least the pieces below can be worn by the every day man; add these to my wish list.

Monday, November 10, 2008

San Francisco Street - Tony Transforms!

Images by Vanguard - San Francisco

As if my fashion-crush on Tony wasn’t already completely set in stone. Not only do I see him wander into a party in an amazing coat of his own design, but it then transforms into three more heart-wrenchingly amazing jackets.

I would drink a bottle of Paraquat weed killer (à la Isabella Blow) right now if Tony promised to make my funeral outfit.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Runway - Thom Browne: Fall 2008

Normally I would be considered much less than a fan of Thom Browne. Although he helped usher in suit shorts, which I avidly support, in most cases his clothing appears stiff, contrived, and either overly restrained or not restrained enough. His Fall 2008 show, however, completely changed the way I view his work.

For many, the show was seen as the circus it was themed after. How it should be viewed, however, is a study on how the male body can be divided and broken apart into new proportions and a statement on today’s male gender issues.

Mainly, Browne introduced a high-waisted, traditionally-styled men’s slack paired with a cropped jacket. Oddly enough, this idea actually creates a much more flattering and stately appearance than typical suits. Above, the shorts provide the outfit with a bit of a bounce. Below, the emphasized contrast and the long pant give it a stiff and heavy appearance while the exposed ankles maintain a sense of movement. In both cases, the placement of pocket flaps on the pants is incredibly important to maintain a sense of the waist’s true location. The repetition of these flaps onto the jacket help to ensure that the cropped top will be viewed as squared off and masculine.

Above we again see a flood pant. The exposed ankle prevents the wearer from feeling too grounded, communicating at a simple level a sense of awareness and quick response. The diagonal lines of argyle help to emphasize this point. The way which the plaid shirt flares out helps to balance the fantastic caplet, which would otherwise make the outfit look a bit top heavy and clumsy. Also, pointy hats are always fun.

In all of these outfits strong allusions to the archetypical men’s outfit – the suit – are made through fabric, form, and detail. This allows Browne to take much larger creative liberties while playing with male proportions. I doubt that his explorations would have been so successful had he ditched this strong connection to traditional menswear.

Outside of proportions, I love Browne’s continuing discussion on men’s gender issues. This show rather literally demonstrated the constraint of men. The above piece can be viewed either as a man who is too tied up in his own masculinity to achieve a full expression of himself or, the reverse, a man who is too tied up by today’s hatred of masculinity to achieve full expression of himself. Obviously, this show hit right on cue with the exploration of Vanguard.

Lastly, I thought I’d leave you with a quote by Thom Browne that was stolen from This, again, shows the extreme relevancy of Browne to the goals of Vanguard.

"I don't know what the future of men's fashion will be like. I just hope that everyone does their own thing… Because that is what I'm going to do."

Monday, November 3, 2008

San Francisco Street - Meet Houman

Images by Vanguard - San Francisco

Meeting new, innovate men is always a huge inspiration for me. This week, Houman was visiting from New York. I had the pleasure of meeting him at the Harput’s Market afterparty for the Arts of Fashion week. Luckily we hit it off and spent the entire next afternoon loitering in bus stops and hitting up nearly every thrift store between the Mission and SoMa. This naturally resulted in me producing two very heavy bags (but happily spending under $40). Houman was even so friendly to assist me in dragging a dresser down the block. Thank god.

What I find particularly motivating about Houman’s style is that every detail has been thought out and altered in some way. Whereas I usually recommend layering edgy pieces among a foundation of basics (with the intent of finding a way to balance strong expression and at least a little social acceptability), Houman goes all out – just f***ing owning it, no questions asked. The key here seems to be to question everything for every garment. Not only is the fit of each item pushed, but the details too. Notice the off-white blouse. Designed, to be skewed at the bottom, it also features shoulder pads, unusual buttons and collar, while also being a fabric not traditionally used in menswear. This idea of questioning everything is used throughout, allowing no single piece to beacon towards the ordinary: the fit of the pants are altered, the shoes are ridiculously amazing, his jacket creates unique proportions, and even the wrap he wears over the jacket maintains a dramatic sense.

One thing I found particularly interesting while shopping with Houman was when he made a brief statement about how he avoids studying trend and prefers developing his own personal style outside of it. This is something I think a lot about. Many people try to avoid trend, but trend has such implications in both fashion and culture - whether you are an underground avant-guardian or a mainstream mall shopper - that I wonder if it is truly possible for anyone to move themselves outside of it. It does remind me, however, of Walter Van Beirendonck who commonly states that his priority is developing his own artistic style, and how that means sometimes being in style and sometimes being out of style. Granted, I think Houman was talking about smaller trend specifics while Van Beirendonck was looking at the larger picture, but I wanted somewhere to bring this topic up.

Meeting guys like Houman reminds me that pushing your fashion expression is a job that is never finished: everyone keeps growing, maturing, and changing and suddenly there is a new style bar to reach…it also reminds me that I have a lot of shopping to do.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

San Francisco Street - Halloween

Images by Vanguard - San Francisco

It appears that there is even a way for those in the vanguard to dress for Halloween. The above costume is both intellectual and striking. The subject is dressed as a character from his favorite artist’s work. His chosen influence, Günter Brus, is a Viennese Actionist artist known for portraying ideas of self-mutilation. This is definitely a costume worth explaining to every drunken asshole and was by far the most creative of what could be seen on the streets of San Francisco this year.

Does that ink stream look like a cross between Raf Simons for Jil Sanders suits and the YSL ink splatter knits to anyone else?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Runway - Y-3: Fall 2008

As the warning signs of winter start to descend upon San Francisco, that means it’s time to start looking hard at keeping warm (and keeping the rain off our shoulders). But in moments of economic terror, how can we translate affordable basics into something exceptional without it growing dull as the season drags on.

This winter’s Y-3 line took a lot directly from the Yohji Yamamoto runway, but scaled it down to be more wearable and functional. In particular, we saw a few ways to take a very basic jacket and easily make it exceptional yet attainable at any budget.

Essentially there is nothing extraordinary about the coats being worn throughout this post and they are simply taking advantage of the pashmina trend we’ve seen again and again. What we can learn, however, is the method of drape and the use of color and pattern. Through these we see unexpected stimulation created by using the same fabric or color in your scarf as in your jacket. In the plaid version, we see the same lesson we learned in the Yohji Yamamoto line: plaid emphasizes drape.

Lastly, sharp contrasts in colors (here we have white against black against neon) as well as unexpected juxtaposition of geometries (note how the draped piece merge into a square that then contrasts against a loose coat) as further, easy ways to avoid the drudgery of winter outerwear.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

San Francisco Street - A Little Grunge Goes a Long Way

Images by Vanguard - San Francisco

Playing with pant fit is a strong way for men to set themselves apart right now. Gone are the days when a simple slim fit would emphasize an individual perspective. Fuller pants, tapered pants, high waists, and exaggerated pleats are only a few of the many ways guys can do something more with their lower half. When going with larger pant silhouettes, however, make sure to maintain a slim silhouette on top to avoid looking frumpy.

Distressing is something that’s difficult to pull off as there is a lot of association with distressed garments and mainstream mall shoppers. The way that distressing is executed in the shirt above, however, is not only successful, but also adds a lot of interest. This is because of the direct contrast between distressed elements and structured elements; note how the fragile holes are placed beside a heavy and stiff collar. An important element here too, that would allow the outfit to contain additional gender-bending elements, is the cut of the shirt. The lines of the sleeve and suspenders provide a masculine edge by emphasizing the chest and shoulder.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Runway - Miharayasuhiro: Fall 2008

There is no doubt that the manipulation of pashminas was a major theme in this fall’s shows. In menswear, however, these scarves largely stayed detached from clothing – maintaining their accessory status – and were simply draped, tied an layered in unusual ways. Miharayasuhiro was the only men’s line who used the idea of manipulating the pashmina to create new pieces (this was done by several designers in women’s clothing, but the inspirational translation seems to have been lost over the gender line). The above is the designers most successful use of this theme. What appears to be a draped pashmina seamlessly morphs into the neck and collar of a shirt. We maintain typical shirt sleeves and proportions, but the diagonal draping across the front combined with a nicely balanced mass of draping around the neck creates a stately and dramatic assertion.

The draping of this jacket is exquisite. The jacket has a typical, structured base. The planes of this base, however, have been extended and enlarged to create a more exuberant form also based on the pashmina. The structure in the shoulders, the cuffs, and the collared shirt is essential to grounding the design in masculinity and allows everything else to be unexpected and fantastical.

This outfit, although just a basic pair of pants and a jacket, should be appreciated due to its careful attention to proportion and detailing. The skinny pants create a slight contrast to the jacket. The jacket ends just above the bottom of the crotch while the pants are slightly shortened. When the above ideas are combined, it’s give an overall bounce to the outfit, almost a sense of optimism. Seriousness, however, is undoubtedly the focus of the design. This is mainly seen through its black color and the severe buttoning of the jacket. A small detail important in emphasizing this severity is a particularly wide plane let open between the top rows of buttons going up to the neck. This is slightly larger than normally seen on coats, and makes all the difference. When finished off with a double-buttoned neck piece, which seems almost to choke the wearer, it forms a wonderful sense of gravity. In all respect, we are getting a bit far into details, but the details here happen to affect the overall perception of this outfit while allowing it to be read as at once serious and playful.

Apron-front shirts were used rather heavily by several designers for this fall (we’ll see more in upcoming posts). Here we see a similar idea in a leather jacket. Note also how the jacket slightly bells below the waist and at the cuffs and how the collar is draped and gathered. Not only does this create an interesting shape, but this treatment of the leather allows it to be read at once as a thick armor and also as sumptuous and fragile.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

San Francisco Street - Black & White

Images by Vanguard - San Francisco

Analyzing Shane's outfits always provide a fantastic lesson (and doing so could be a life's career in itself). Here he is wearing a hip-exposing, sheer lace unitard, a highly ruffled jacket, and gobbs of silver bangles. As typical with Shane's wardrobe, these pieces are all women's, yet he maintains the perfect degree of masculinity. Granted, much of his being able to pull of some of his clothes lies within his personality but it is also just as much how he wears each article. The sheerness of the top exposes the male form (we've talked about exposure a few times now) while, in sharp contrast, the high-rise hip alludes to traditionally female erogeny. To balance out this rather bold statement, the unitard is covered by black jeans and ankle boots that seem to have a men's 'rock and roll' perception. The jacket helps to ground the unitard by covering feminine-cut shoulders while the black color and long tendrels of the jacket actually disguises the ruffles and allows it to appear instead as an irregular scarf. The braclets unexpectly make the overall look more masculine by adding visual weight to exposed arms. A black and white color scheme allows a rather complicated outfit to be easily read and understood. Overall, as always, Shane shows us how men can wear an entire outfit of women's pieces without a hint of looking like a tranny. Splendid.

Fletch, of Litter MB, uses white to contrast and emphasis his otherwise hidden tattoos. Distressed styling is a frequent and easily used form of expression for men, but it is important to always maintain at least one element that allows passersby to know that you are not actually a hobo. Here, the color white is that element as it allows everyone to know that you can, indeed, afford to wash your clothes.

Eric is a fantastic mentor for any man looking to put something new into his dress without going as extreme or overboard as many of the images we feature (in case drapped ponchos, leggings, and lacey unitards aren't your style). Here, he has taken typical men's pieces (maintaining a level of social acceptability perhaps not allowed for by previously mentioned items) but every single piece is altered in order to create a look that is read as anything but ordinary. The blazer features unique - but subtle - fabric treatments and detailing. The scarf incorporates heavy fringe. The pants expose the ankle. Meanwhile the oxfords are treated to a metallic finish and brought to a point.

Terry T is always a huge inspiration for me as gender expectations play little to no part in the way he dresses, allowing him complete creative liberties. His attitude is only for the brave and is truely something to be admired. Seeming to be almost the reverse of Shane, Terry T wears mainly men's clothing but he uses his styling to feminize them. Emphasized ruffles, makeup, and jewlery are some of the elements that do so. Meanwhile other focal elements (facial hair, eyebrow shape, and footwear) leaves no one to question that this is a man who knows exactly what he is doing.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Global Street - Altamira NYC

The following images from Altamira NYC.

I have been regularly following the blog, Altamira NYC, for quite some time now. In the past couple of months, however, I have noticed a radical shift: Altamira has dramatically upgraded. Formerly it was - although very well done - just another New York street fashion blog (good style of course, but exactly how much Sartorialist-type fashion can we look at?). Recently its blogger, Craig, has shifted to featuring world-class street fashion that is truly worthy of any avant-guardian’s daily attention. Let’s pray he keeps up the amazing work.

I think the photos speak for themselves.