Off-Road Strategies

Those gentlemen brave enough to assemble smart accessories, good ties, well crafted hats, and beautiful shoes know the right pairing can complete a look as a glass of wine can finish a meal. A sober navy silk tie might add a good balance to a potentially shrill outfit. A curiously detailed pair of oxfords can breath life into a look based on a dull charcoal flannel.

A recent post by Hard Liquor Soft Holes had me thinking off the radar as he experimented with some different outfits based on a drop crotch pant from CdG for H&M. More often than not, a piece can overwhelm a look or lock our heads into a particular trend portrait. A preppy sweater suggests a smart tie, nerdy glasses and so on, but there's nothing stopping us from showering it with safety pins for a DIY project or pairing it with something more military and edgy. How about ditching Harvard for Machu Pichu?

Trends don't need to dictate our personal looks. Adding personality to a look just takes a little creativity. Doing something unexpected even in the small details can add a touch of excitement to the daily routine. Besides, no one wants to be a cliche.

Cardigan by Richard Chai @ Odin

Western Style Hat by Alexander McQueen @ Brown Fashions

Western Rogues Gallery 8 Eyelet Boot @ Revolve Clothing

The Odysseus At The Rogues Gallery Showroom

Starting Friday the 13th at Rogues Gallery's showroom, the Odysseus, a series of landscape photos by Mikael Kennedy, will be on display. It will also be a great chance to check out Rogues Gallery's nautical inspired Fall collection. Any chance to pretend you're not trapped in a concrete jungle this winter must be exploited.

Experience both in person at 33 West 26th St. on the 4th Floor.

Gaziano & Girling

There's something to be said for comfort. Dressing up can be a bit masochistic as we squeeze our feet into a pair of shoes that are slightly small, or perhaps decide to wear a tie and jacket rather than a loose fitting t-shirt. We suffer for our style. I have often said that comfort is not the first thing that comes to mind when composing a look. But on occasion a shoe just fits so right. Sometimes elegance isn't sacrificed for comfort as is the case with these custom made dress boots by Gaziano & Girling Leffot says can't stay in the shop. Their customer claims
“Since I’ve been wearing G&G my feet no longer bother me”. That’s a strong statement and a testament to the fit and support that’s truly unique to Gaziano & Girling shoes.

Not only do they look great, but they “feel” great as well, and that’s exactly what investing in quality footwear is all about.

Even if they weren't, I can't stop lusting over these beautiful boots, the weight of the double sole, and perfect length of the toe.

Leffot is located at 10 Christopher Street New York, NY.


Bad Boys or Good Seeds

Over the past year the male catwalks have been given over to models with that bad-boy-next-door look. Jethro Cave is in the ranks of Ash Stymest, Cole Mohr, Josh Beech, and Tyler Riggs but he's actually been in the game for three years. He was seen everywhere from CoSTUME NATIONAL to Gareth Pugh this season. Fashion has embraced boys that embody both boyish androgyny and an inherent sense of humor and style. I'm surprised at how at home these kids are on the catwalks as much as editorials. Jethro was profiled by Times Online UK last September:

He’s a proper peacock, this one — he gets his suits from charity shops (“I just buy ’em and wear ’em”) and doesn’t mind spending a few hours on a look. Today’s get-up — before being replaced with a Topman suit for these pictures — consisted of a beat-up leather jacket (bought in Brighton, where his dad lives with his wife, Susie Bick, and their two sons), skinny jeans, boots repaired with gaffer tape, a bum bag featuring an Aussie flag and a self-administered undercut. At a recent festival in Oz, his alter ego was “Joffle, king of the troglodytes”, resplendent in a cloak and with a staff. The urge to wear a dress can also be strong. “Well, you’ve got to frock up sometimes,” he says.

I single out the aussie raised Jethro Cave because he has three things to set him apart.

A) A distinctive head of hair. Here he is shot by designer and photographer Hedi Slimane.

B) The sense to compose this outfit.

C) A cool dad.

Embellished Men: Wooyoungmi RTW Fall Winter 2009 2010

It's not often that ornament finds its way into the halls of menswear. Recently I've been speaking a bit towards the effect a hat, or lapel emellishment can have on ones overall look. After the Milan and Paris shows, its patently clear that menswear designers are moving towards a decorated male image in spite of other more sobering trends, men's accessories are stretching into a territory not explored for decades. Woouyoungmi showcased all of these emergent features in beautiful hats and lapel pins in her collection which bridged Korean folk culture with modern streetwear.

Another significant trend: capes. They're all over this season,and Wooyoungmi put them center stage with a variety of militaristic capelets in leather and wool, cut in a variety of styles. They added graphic contrast and provided a clear canvas for detailing.

The show is not perfect, the first look down the runway bore no connection to what followed, but the collection has a lot to offer for a variety of settings. The designer also continued the movement towards sensible double breasted suit jackets but paired them with leggings. It wasn't a look many men will risk at the office. A pair of trousers with a elasticized ribbed knit cuff.


White House Casual Friday: The Fall of Western Civilization

According to the NYtimes:

Over the weekend, Mr. Obama’s first in office, his aides did not quite know how to dress. Some showed up in jeans (another no-no under Mr. Bush), some in coats and ties.

So the president issued an informal edict for “business casual” on weekends — and set his own example. He showed up Saturday for a briefing with his chief economic adviser, Lawrence H. Summers, dressed in slacks and a gray sweater over a white buttoned-down shirt. Veterans of the Bush White House are shocked.

And so am I. I do not approve. Kennedy buried the top hat. What sartorial standard will Obama bulldoze? I am picturing a louche president in cargo pants and sandals in two decades. There's a scene in the film Faces by director John Cassevetes where a man complains in embarrassment about his son wearing sneakers off the tennis court as informal attire. Our grandsons will shame us by doing away with shirts altogether. USATODAY, harbinger of doom asked its readers not too long ago whether flip flops were appropriate business casual attire. The end is nigh.

I would not call myself a traditionalist, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Doesn't the national office deserve some sort of formal mystique?

For all of us normal people in the workplace, its better to be overdressed than underdressed. Casual attire is only nominally more comfortable than business formal wear, anyway. No one at your job will reprimand you for being the best dressed guy at work. Taking that extra step can be an extension, and expression, of your attitude towards your job at the office both your client and your employer can see the seriousness of your attire (which hopefully matches your work output).

When it comes to output Obama has a lot on his plate. So far he's done well, signing into law today The Ledbetter Act which (finally) ensures equal pay for equal work, and signing an executive order to shut down Guantanomo Bay. But we wish style could be elevated along with the quality, and morality, of American political culture. Perhaps our standards are too high?


Gareth Pugh To Helm Dior Homme?

The blogoverse is rumoring that Gareth Pugh, who has just only a couple of days ago released his first menswear collection may soon replace Kris Van Assche at Dior. Exciting news for the young brit and his fans. Fashionisto culls from Grazia and EDerek Blasberg that LVMH is ready to shake things up It couldn t come at a better time for Dior as it becomes clear Van Assche is not finding his footing with men's collection which started out rocky with his 90s hip hop obsession and has gone nowhere since. Except to retrace, unconvincingly the steps already trod by Hedi Slimane. Dior Homme became sadly dull under Van Assche.

Pugh would be a major break from that cycle in a way that LVMH hopes would mirror the strange success of Galliano for Dior's womenswear, bringing fierce artistic vision to push the the line forward. While Galliano's aesthetic is retro-costume dippinging into fashion's past, Pugh is one of the few names consistently building futurist worlds, though to differing levels of success. He always brings drama but wearable clothes are rare. His first men's collection, seemingly inspired by Hellraiser, is dangerous and dark. Leather pieces embellished with pins defy the rules of comfort. The makeup is a bit haunted house, but Pugh shows rare shapes for a men's show, and also an array of beautifully strange quilted coats. The most desirable being the trench displayed above, though others compete for attention with bizarre sharp shoulders not unfamiliar to fans of Pugh.

What do you guys think: Can Pugh take on Dior Homme?


McQueensbury Rules in Motion

In case you haven't seen it, here's the video to McQueen's great Fall 2009-10 show. Watch it quick before its taken down again, eh?

Rick Owens RTW Fall Winter 2009 2010

Drama Queen? Rick Owens prefers that label over Goth. That label fits uncomfortably the expressive hand present in every look of his Fall 09 collection. Where's the drama? There are searing hot leather jackets here, true to Owen's rock roots, though even there he contorts shapes. Every look is storied, layers of black shift around the figure in all glamorous textures. The clarity of his voice is found year after year on the catwalk.

The boots: slouchy, yet agressive. Necklines fall to mid torso, warmed by handsome fur scarves, or cloaked within one of Owen's beautiful coats. Duvet coats. Crock print coats. The fabric falls asymmetricallly that way, slips this way for a wrap-style jacket. Owens claims Brancusi as inspiration for his work. That reference makes a great deal of sense in the floor length tunics. The rise of simple verticals, columns of black, cut from space, is a persistent image. A large gold crown hangs at their neck. Brancusi's instructor Rodin likewise stands as a source, given the rigidly sculpted male form of the show.

La Bande De Musee

Its taken a while but after Robert Crumb broke the gate down comics have been gaining recognition as art from elite institutions all over the world. Winsor McKay never dreamed of the attention, scholarship, and admiration. Still there is a status available to Japanese, and European artists that American cartoonists only dream of. Now that gap edges slightly wider as the Louvre has opened this past thursday an exhibition entitled La Louvre Invite La Bande-Dessinee avec les artistes Eric Liberge, Benar Yslaire, et Araki Hirohiko creator of the uber popular manga JoJo's Bizarre Adventures. Many of the images and strips depict characters in action with the Louvre as a backdrop, and a few make much needed improvements on that Mona Lisa thing.

While we have had such exhibits before in the states, nothing quite stands up to the prestige of the Louvre.

The exhibit is open to the public until April 17.
Via Coxsoft Art News.

WTF: Raf Simons RTW Fall Winter 2009 2010

Okay, its settled. When the shows rap up in Paris, I will dedicate several posts to this feeling of disappointment and vicarious embarrassment. Disappointment is nothing new to fashion followers, students, designers, sellers, or buyers. We funnel it into catty repartee. Disappointment pays bills for critics ( though not the blogging sort usually). However, when someone like Raf Simons shows you an unremarkable suit paired with a hideous sneaker something is fucked up. There is no amount of cynicism that can compete with the jarring images of these clothes. You feel the pinch.

I was going to share an elaborate illustration involving a suffocated kitten, then I thought perhaps a more apt description would point towards the haphazardness of the collection, but I think I'll save my energy and vitriol.

The sleeves are the only thing that carries visual impact and for the most part they didn't work as tacked on features. Much more salient was the two tone concept. Even in neon it looked clean and smart in a conventional slim sleeve but it was overpowering in the voluminous versions.

No comparison between this and that.

Blaak FTW Fall Winter 2009, 2010

The Blaak man (sorry) will be wearing a tribal look this year. Sachiko Okada and Aaron Sarif have been steadily building the house year after year, incorporating evocative references in details, and providing collections full of wearability. This years show developed a tribal flavor; a shamanistic, and occultic narrative. The looks are nicely complemented with coherent accessories.

Did you notice the studs? It might remind you of Prada's collection shown a short time ago in Milan. A poster on FashionSpot pointed out a striking similarity between Prada's collection and Blaak's Fall 2007 collection which included studded shirts and pants. Well, have a look yourself...

Time for a serious question: does Miuccia Prada hate Blaak people? Yes or no?


A New Look: Yves Saint Laurent RTW Fall Winter 2009 2010

Stefano Pilati returns this season without a trace of the seventies art world playboy of last year. But the sensuous has not been supplanted with a utilitarian sheen, bell-bottom trousers are succeeded by generous long shorts cut to reveal just a hint of calf. It reminds me of a statement the designer made when first joining Saint Laurent...

Calves are a devastatingly undervalued body part. They are so beautiful. Women, at least, can wear skirts. But we have to wear our pants long, long, long. Why?

Color-wise there was a beautiful silk shirt in rich plum, which also the jackets, a house staple. A bold elated blue overcoat paired with a similarly hued plaid flannel shirt. But color as we have learned this season is an extravagance not to be expected. Most pieces are charcoal, black, and white.

Accompanying the show is a video starring Michael Pitt (who still appears as he did in Last Days as Kurt Cobain), in which the actor is admired offscreen by a female speaker. The erotic element is a subdued force of tension between classic pastiche and youthful grunge gesture. The restrained sexual energy is framed by respectable architecture but beneath the surface it threatens.

Does the show have the same slow burning, slow stewing effect of a dark romance? There is an admirable riskiness to the collection but whereas past collections elevated the YSL man to opulence and bygone glamour this show shifts towards a new direction with quieter luxe details and a harder palette.

All images via WWD

Op Art: Hugo by Hugo Boss RTW Fall Winter 2009 2010

A little optical illusion for Fall? While Moschino opted for a bit of french surrealism tromp d'oeil, both Raf and now Boss have been exploring more German wells of inspiration. Though while Raf drinks deeply from Weimar, its a topic he has mined successfully for years, Boss's attempt with Op Art and industrial new wave is rather uneven. Delivering a black and white convection of lines which throw off the eye more than invite a curiousity.

A note should be made at this point, though the topic will be addressed later as I gather the dominant trends for the season. Suddenly everyone is doing capes. Burberry, Etro, McQueen, and now...Boss? Now I love capes, but I'm wondering if the general buyer will want to throw one over his shoulder, and his client's. There were some notable pieces in geometic patterns, a series of taut angular jackets, like a hard edge bolero, and series of knot-less ties also piqued my interest.