It’s T minus 10 days until the start of New York Fashion Week. With fall 2021 ready-to-wear shows about to occupy our attention, our critics are taking time to reflect on the recently wrapped men’s shows and how a year’s worth of lockdowns have reshaped not just what guys will be wearing when we finally re-emerge from our various quarantines, but the very purpose of a fashion show.
Sarah Mower finds communication beyond the catwalk
A sign of the times: The fall 2021 men’s collections started in December, and they’re still rolling out. What to make of the new normal state of affairs? These presentations—changed completely by the pandemic—are markers of everything that’s come down in the year since we were last gathered together in the hugging proximity of the men’s runway shows of January 2020.
Bur for all that—plus ça change. What really cut through amidst the digital, physical, and phygital collections; the Zoom conferences; and the materials sent around to reviewer’s homes? Ultimately, it’s the stuff that made us feel something, that viscerally communicated—in clothes, video, whatever which way—some deeper understanding of where we are now.
I can only offer a cross-section of the ways that did it for me. Virgil Abloh’s film and collection for Louis Vuitton, his superb, complex, and eminently re-watchable event which so inspiringly amplified the poetry of Black talent, the emotional day after the Inauguration. I’ve a feeling that it’s already transcended into being one of those rare, pivotal collections which will resonate, inspire, and be studied for a long time hence (the dossier Abloh produced on its personal, cultural, and intellectual coordinates is there to read in depth on his website.) Design-wise, and styled by the incandescently gifted Ibrahim Kamara, it was also far and away Abloh’s best so far.
We can be stirred by all kinds of frequencies in fashion; that’s what living through this pandemic has shown us. Visually, I completely adored Veronique Nichanian’s Hermès collection. Her sense of color shoots something glorious straight through the retina, even as her calmly realistic modernity soothes. I hate that fashion term “obsessed by.” But why, after speed-studying hundreds of looks this season, can’t I get that sweater, number 30—on a sort of teal background, with an abstracted, collaged suggestion of a cable knit on it—out of my mind?