From RPG-inspired films to fruit-and-veg photoshoots, COVID-19 can’t keep Rick Owens, JW Anderson, A-COLD-WALL*, and more down
Fashion week as we knew it may still be off the cards thanks to COVID-19, but creativity carries on regardless. This month saw the menswear season get underway in Milan and Paris, with Haute Couture set to continue into next week – meaning you might be starved of human contact, but it’s unlikely you’re going to be starved of beauty. With Virgil Abloh breaking boundaries via his poignant AW21 show, Raf Simons making his Prada homme debut – all long-johns, chunky knits, and more than a few signature triangles, just in case you missed it – and Fendi enlisting Bake Off icon Noel Fielding for a collab we in no way saw coming, Rick Owens, Vetements, JW Anderson, Y/Project, and Wales Bonner are all set to drop new collections via ever-more creative means in the coming days. Want to keep up with it all? You’ve come to the right place. Welcome to our rolling list of everything happening at the new-season menswear shows, which we’ll be updating as each presentation happens.
When Samuel Ross decamped his A-COLD-WALL* shows to Milan two seasons ago, London’s loss was truly the Italian fashion capital’s gain. Making his debut in the city back in January 2020 – when the world was still vaguely normal – Ross’s first show on the MFW calendar saw him refine his offering, as he moved away from the structured outerwear and reconfigured casualwear he made his name on, and in the direction of a slicker, more tailored approach. This season, despite adversity, he’s keeping it moving, with a balanced collection featuring pieces that will appeal to both his existing, younger fans, and a new, slightly older audience.
With fresh lockdowns around the world stamping out a return to runway shows for AW21, Ross presented the offering via a short film that felt almost voyeuristic. With a series of “hopeful, positive” brilliant white looks opening the show, the collection moved through slick tailoring with bold industrial elements, and remixed overcoats – designed as part of a new collab with Mackintosh – to signature windbreakers bearing the ACW logo, punchy knitted sweater vests, and t-shirts, shirts, and jackets bearing architectural graphic motifs. While Ross usually favours a highly conceptual approach when it comes to his clothes, this time around, he added a few words into the mix – open, portal, reach, saturate, which echoed on top of the show’s banging Kelvin Krash-curated soundtrack – but otherwise left the whole thing open to interpretation. AW21 was all about dropping great clothes people want to wear – from our persepctive, it looks like he’s got a success on his hands. Watch the film above to see for yourself.
After presenting one collection via ‘a show in a box’ and providing editors with the means to redecorate a small room through another, all eyes were on Jonathan Anderson ahead of the debut of his AW21 offering – literally, what will he think of next? We got the answer we were looking for earlier this week, when the London-based designer released a series of posters, shot by Juergen Teller and featuring Ratched star Sophie Okonedo – after both JW and Teller were blown away by her scene-stealing performance in the show. Shot around London, the images see Okonedo – and a few other faces – slip into cartoonishly wide trousers, dramatic fuzzy gilets and tunics in candy-bright colours, and slick but slouchy tailored suits. Dotted throughout were an assortment of fruit and vegetables, with Okonedo brandishing a pair of squashes in one, and an extremely aesthetically appealing Romanesco cauliflower in another. The harvest festival theme continued across the clothing itself, with mohair sweaters embroidered with bright pink radishes, and juicy halved peaches sliced open on the chest of oversized sweatshirts. All in all, very into – and ever so slightly hungry.
After presenting his SS21 womenswear collection in Venice, Rick Owens decided to stick around long enough to drop his AW21 menswear offering there, too. Staged at the water’s edge, masked models stormed up and down the makeshift runway to a pounding Ghostemane soundtrack, wearing wide-shouldered, billowing overcoats, blown-up tetris-like bombers, ‘biblical’ hooded robes, and the kind of butter-soft button-down leather jackets dreams are made of – many of which were paired with nothing more than tighty-whitie Y-fronts that were emblazoned, quite geniusly, with pentagrams. Owens explained he was dipping into darkness again this season, which is not surprising given the times we’re living in, and revealed the name of the offering as Gethsemane – which, in case you’re not familiar, is the name of the garden where Jesus prayed before he was crucified.
Drawing inspiration from one of his fave bands, The Ramones, Owens previously ripped off Converse’s signature Chuck Taylor kicks – this season, however, he officially teamed up with the label to debut a collaborative style that mutated the style’s toe cap to more Owens-esque proportions, and featured yet another pentagram where the brand’s All Star would usually be. It was a wild, yeti-like pair of thigh-high boots that shone the brightest, however – landing in rich forest green and inky black (duh), the style transformed the models wearing them into mythical, half-human hybrids.
AW21 took us deeper into Boramy Viguier’s fantasy world, as the rising Paris-based designer presented his latest film, Resurrection. Rich in symbolism, the short followed a caped protagonist on a quest to take down evil priest King Atlas – who reigned over his kingdom with darkness and malice (sound familiar?). Supporting characters encountered along the way were draped in ecclesiastical robes, tunics bearing more of his spiritual iconography and signature tarot-inspired detailing, clean velvet overcoats, and voluminous satin smocks. Rooting things in the now were the sharp tailored trousers in wool and leather, crisp shirts, and panelled gilets and waistcoats. Check out the film above.
In the name of much-needed escapism, GmbH’s AW21 collection is designed to be worn anywhere but inside our homes. Showcased in an ominous video directed by Matt Lambert, it takes its title – Welt am Draht (World on a Wire) – from Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1973 sci-fi series of the same name, questioning whether our world “exists entirely inside another world, perhaps as a computer simulation”. Despite the (very apt) dystopia, the Berlin-based fashion collective’s clothes provide a hopeful vision of a future after lockdown. Faux fur and python print offer an escape from the sweatpants and sportswear of the New Normal, while wrapped black tailoring references silhouettes from mid-century couture. Full pleather looks, meanwhile, bring us back to the simulation via The Matrix (and gone-but-not-forgotten club nights). Watch the film above.
This season, Wales Bonner tapped the legendary Saint Lucian poet Derek Walcott for inspiration, layering his words with ambient music from Laraaji in a film titled The Light of Black Sunlight. Produced in collaboration with Jamaican filmmaker Jeano Edwards, the visuals follow a dreamlike journey between Port Antonio and Kingston in Jamaica, and London’s Goodenough College, illuminating a history of Carribean thought and Black British intellectualism. Soft, two-tone tailoring appears across a blend of menswear and womenswear, alongside hand-printed pieces – courtesy of a collaboration with the artist Joy Gregory, and her study of plants in Jamaican culture – and the return of knitted sportswear silhouettes seen in the label’s 70s-inspired AW20 collection. Elsewhere, tuxedo suiting made with Savile Row tailors is juxtaposed with boating stripes: “echoes of twenties evening wear,” read Wales Bonner’s notes, “classicism flourished with an Afro-Atlantic sensibility.” Watch The Light of Black Sunlight above, and view the full collection here.
Jonathan Anderson has been experimenting with show formats at Loewe since the pandemic put IRL presentations on hold. First, there was the “fashion show in a box”, then for SS21 the label delivered paper dolls and fabric swatches – everything you’d need for a runway show on your own kitchen table. Continuing the theme of innovation, Loewe’s AW21 offering comes in book form, alongside a video in which Anderson walks us through a collection inspired by Joe Brainard, a fixture of the New York art scene in the 60s and 70s. In particular, Anderson highlights the artist’s famed flower collages, printing the bright floral imagery on black leather bags or oversized, tent-shaped trousers that the wearer can open out like a canvas. “I liked this idea that the trouser nearly became a performative piece,” says the designer. Tripled-up jumpers and t-shirts also reference Brainard’s use of repetition, while his collage shines through in the collection’s mix-and-match approach to iconic subcultures (think: leather bondage trousers paired with cosy knitwear). Get Anderson’s full walkthrough in the video above.
Demna Gvasalia might have flown the nest, but the team at Vetements continued to keep its fire burning for AW21, turning out a mammoth 165 looks for the new season. With menswear and womenswear combined as ever, this time around saw the collective dive into its archive, with exaggerated, XXL outerwear, angular, oversized tailoring, and twisted and skewed eveningwear in the form of full-length sequined sheath dresses and silky camis all on the agenda. The label also catered to our ‘new normal’ by resurrecting Juicy Couture velour, this time dropping flared track pants and second skin roll-neck tops bearing signature 90s tattoo prints, alongside faux-fur teddy bear slippers, see-through mesh dresses cheekily branded ‘haute couture’, and headbanger hoodies with pentagrams on their chest (which are also hot for AW21 according to Rick Owens).
With the collection making its debut via a bumper lookbook that recalled the novelty backdrops available in a passport photobooth near you, finishing things off were more of Vetements’ tongue-in-cheek tees, with “Think While It’s Still Legal”, “Fashion Is My Profession”, and COVID-appropriate “I Like Long Walks and Sex Before Marriage” among them (no prizes for which one we’re doing more of right now).
After giving us an access all areas glimpse at how a collection comes together in its SS21 film, this season, Hermès was back with a short video that saw the models take over Paris’s Mobilier National – and more specifically, the impressive spiral staircase at its heart. Taking the straightforward up-and-down-the-runway format and twisting it into something far more personal and intimate, the revered house honed in on the models as they interacted with each other on the stairs – laughing as they passed each other, leaning on the railings taking it all in, or otherwise standing and chatting as things played out around them. The collection itself, meanwhile, was made up of crisp, oversized trousers cropped to the ankle, slick joggers in technical fabrics, blouson zip-up jackets in bold checks, and chic, understated parka coats in a pleasing palette of soft greys, powdery blues, and rich orange, turquoise, and maroon. Running throughout, across silk shirts and the house’s signature scarves, was a print named “Drive Me Crazy” – if that’s not a motif that perfectly encapsulates the mood of 2021, we don’t know what is.
Glenn Martens might have recently taken the helm at legendary denim purveyor Diesel, but that doesn’t mean he’s slowing down when it comes to Y/Project. This season saw the designer drop a co-ed collection that dipped into his archive, and refined them for a more grown-up fan. What did this mean? Tailored coats with lapels that had been twisted 180 degrees, hoodies with necklines so skewed surely Martens should be sending out instructions to get them on when the offering lands next season, and plenty of bunched-up denim, as seen across acid-washed jeans and big blouson jackets so ruched they appeared to have been done up incorrectly. Rounding things off were a series of billowing silk dresses and skirts with asymmetric, handkerchief hems, and shoes created in collaboration with Melissa that featured rubber styles inspired by Victorian vases and a Cinderella-esque ‘glass’ slipper.
1017 ALYX 9SM
Coronavirus might have put paid to IRL fashion shows, but it hasn’t seemed to slow the machine down all that much – case in point: we’re currently in our third season since lockdown began. What has changed, however, is how designers seem to be going at collections, with many of them using this period to step back, reflect on their practice, and adjust accordingly. One creative doing just that is Matthew Williams, whose AW21 1017 Alyx 9SM collection strips things back to the core of the brand, and reassesses what it’s built on. Presented via a similarly low-key lookbook – no sign of KKW or any rogue hair extensions here – the offering is made up of blown-up puffers and parkas, slinky-cool LBDs (that’s little blue and black dresses, FYI), slick Caruso suiting, and tactile teddy coats – with looks finished with classic leather bags bearing Alyx’s signature buckles and more of the ugly-cool shoes on which Williams made his name.