Are designers opening the floodgates to redesign man’s aesthetics?

A good man- one a lady would fall for- is stereotypically widely associated to sipping the finest blended scotch whisky, puffing on Habanos, having an assorted bespoke monogram shirts from Budd, suits from Turnbull & Asser, Oxfords from Crockett & Jones, a bad temper and a fortune. Yep, it might sound old-school to bits, too Beau Brummel-meets-Lapo Elkann and it is, indeed. But, even the damned much-waxed six pack chap wearing rock-bottom price H&M plaid shirt and frayed blues with CK-labelled pants peeking out from – as a model styled in the most traditional twopenny porn flick- sounds promising to the throng of oestrogen-holders out there. For the record: It’s all about  imageries. The decadent allurement of the sexy and classy poète maudit, the fucking A he-man and the hard-wired cubbyhole man’s image was stuck with, got lost over the years. Man’s aesthetics has been quite overturned and squeezed in the last decades. Put the blame on the liberating daemon of the ’50s youthquake, the rising of the LGBT camaraderie from the ’60s through the ’80s, the flower children, disco dancers and black-nailed punks  or the just-gay-enough era of the cool-ass Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync. The fact is we’ve witnessed a loss in man’s virility, the longtime kind what-women-want is getting out of stock- or this is a mutual thought-. The last men’s fashion shows are smoking gun to prove the point.

Anyway, there’ll be well tough time for the man’s man, the sort weedy, wan and womanish fop is the alpha male de nos jours. Fashion designers- the most insightful chancers at least- are pushing the envelope by remapping the visual perception of men, shrugging off the cultural differences between genders and sneering at mentalities. World’s new wave buy-in is for a half ‘oohing and aahing’ and the other animus as the glaring sundown and the pitch dark midnight.

Youth is what all trends gravitate towards. The eye-capturing androgynous kiddie, beautiful and insecure – one you can’t tell whether is still experimenting sexually with his male bestie or the girl next door- is popular, the modernised die-hard Gordon Gekko-style, the urban Lolita boy, the rock roughneck and the sissified high school football captain, too. Dic(k)hotomy, I’d say.


London Town towers above all the fashion ‘four’ in terms of manipulating, distorting and transfiguring male appearance. The UK has got one of the most open-minded, creative, experimenting and self-confident fashion system and designers who show collections there, venture out and aren’t ashamed of showing a plastic phallus popping out of the intentionally-undone flies  (James Theseus Buck F/W15) or all-over My Little Penis- oh sorry, Ponies- print- with dangling long willies- (Katie Eary S/S16) or, further, men sporting mini dresses with a China Blue/Kathleen Turner-like – or Rugrats‘ Angelica Pickles if you prefer- blonde fringe wig on their heads (Todd Lynn S/S16). Gender is a state of mind and London’s fashion doesn’t skimp on provocations in a moment we all know we’ve lost sight of  innocence a very long time ago.


James Theseus Buck FW15


Katie Eary SS16


Todd Lynn SS16


Sibling SS16

Meanwhile, just a little bit South of the rainy land, Italy- still bogged down in a somewhat-discomforting financial situation- plays safe, if not for Gucci’s Christ The Redeemer aka long-haired, long-bearded, long-sighted Alessandro Michele – exactly alike-. Gucci’s team swiftly got over the Frida-be-gone confusion and Michele is falling all over himself trying to redefine the giant’s brandgenetics. He neither builds bridges nor reorganises the old glory, he chases a new authenticity and a fashion milieu, nodding to the ’70s, has been arranged conjointly with his assignment. Hats off to S/S16 Andrea Pompilio, whose candid boys have got a feminine-not-sugary grace, and Alessandro Dell’Acqua’s N°21 line-up of unisex casual clothing aligning the recreational cuts of sportswear with gentle textures. A few other evocative shreds went out of Milan, where designers wallow in their comfort zone- as fledgling lovers doing missionary position: mostly winning albeit tedious -. The Italian giovanotto has never been a zealous supporter of the extreme makeover, fashion-oriented yes, but victim of his own virility as often as not.


Andrea Pompilio SS16


N°21 SS16

New York City’s unit of manhood for the next hot season will be or a Tommy Hilfiger double-breasted suit man – the kind you might find chatting damsels up at The Skylark- or a Duckie Brown sheer organza blouse boy -the kind who hopes a Tommy Hilfiger double-breasted suit man will chat him up at The Skylark-. Stupid clichés!

Full marks to Steven Cox and Daniel Silver of the 15 y.o. Duckie Brown for the best gender-blurring collection S/S 16- though not using skirts at all-. Lightness is poetic: see-through t’s or front-zipped oversize bomber jackets, broad blouses and thin windcheaters tucked in wide-legged trousers with corolla-shaped waist. Man’s body becomes a stalk for delicate fabrics gently constructed around it. Gobsmacking. In New York everything is amplified: the hight of things, the size, the gender bewilderment. No naiveté, sentimentalism or bullshits, this city is inopportune, has the devil inside.


Duckie Brown SS16


Duckie Brown SS16

Metrosexuality and variations on the theme live at their best in a  Paris that is accustomed to that type of thing- a shout-out to Gaultier’s tuxedo-and-fishnet stockings 007 back to the A/W11 collection, and to the A/W 09 glam-grotesque Galliano-designing-Galliano men with lace knickers and suspenders or massive tulle bows ringing their neck-. Once again- in a much more polite way- fashion designers are not training stallions but fashion-concious men. Issey Miyake‘s offering speaks of confidence as in Galliano’s Maison Margiela, a confidence around which the dialogues on the coming aesthetics revolve. A masculinity that is thoroughly softened but not profoundly exploited, neither a sense of repression nor expressive brutality.


Issey Miyake SS16


Issey Miyake SS16


Maison Margiela SS16


Maison Margiela SS16

Brutality is exactly what Hood By Air goes in for. After showing the A/W15 DADDY collection in New York, head designer Shayne Oliver’s adorably disturbing S/S16 GALVANIZE was unveiled during Paris Fashion Week last June. There isn’t anything falling under a gender, race, sexual orientation or further labels, HBA’s  indeterminate and controversial taste conceals a one off beauty for those who can look beyond the S&M o-ring mouth gags, the hair clips, the draped tops and other rags cut to pieces.


Hood By Air SS16


Hood By Air SS16

Ultimately, forget the unsophisticated Delon-as-Rocco or heart-throb Richard-as-gigolo as well as the 9 1/2 Weeks beefcake Mickey-before-facelift-Rourke because they are a source of pure testosterone you won’t easily find in fashion this time around.