Let’s take a moment to talk about the Etro menswear collection for Spring/Summer 2013.
There is this general idea that menswear (still) revolves around ‘the suit’. It does. It’s not a wrong thought or an ignorant one so don’t be ashamed if you immediately think of suits when you think of men. In all honesty, it’s very rare that a menswear collection comes out that’s not either a very bland and boring display of black and grey suits of average cut, or something so insanely out of the box no man would actually consider wearing it (see: Ann Demeulemeester 2012).
What happens with Etro is, in the end, the same line of thought emerging from Prada. The collections may be absolutely nothing alike, but they’re never like all the other ones. They always follow a line of thought, a character, that is not the typical Wall Street strock broker. Remember that wonderful Prada campaign with Jamie Bell, Willem Dafoe, Garrett Hedlund, Gary Oldman et al? Remember the collection? It was so deliciously dandy, full of bright geometric patterns, jewel details, cravattes, stiff high-neck collared shirts, pinstripe vests, long coats, all in a palette of scarlet red, black and white… I could go on about it forever. This Etro collection did the same for me.
(continue reading for video and review)
Every season, the Etro man becomes a different character. There were seasons of full-on cowboys with weathered leather and of decadent aristocrats in bright prints and velvet blazers. This year, Etro seems to have looked towards the East as it brings us an array of ensembles as breathtakingly elegant as they are effortless – and ridiculously easy to wear. Silken palace shirts and trousers, luxurious robes that flow to the sound of a low, rhythmic drumming that almost hypnotizes you; a muted palette of navy blue, steel grey and chocolate brown, mixed with flashes of ruby red, and in shimmery lush materials that, instead of forming the sharp, tailored lines you would expect from a men’s collection, drape softly and fall in a way that follows the body’s shape and movement. The structure is there, just in a different way – just as this is a different kind of businessman.
There is an imaginary scent of incense as you find yourself immersed in a world of oriental luxury for the western man. A New York billionaire, living somewhere between Hong Kong and Bombay, who is tired of golfing at the Hamptons and has decided to search for paradise on Earth. Dark and mysterious, highly intellectual, he is confident enough to shun the suit and tie and embrace a very relaxed yet slightly ostentatious kind of luxury – flip-flops instead of brogues, turbans and longer locks. It’s the businessman of the future, hailing from the lands of the East, ridding himself of the formalities of Wall Street style, acknowledging and embracing the fact that the world is not limited to the Western rules of society, but in fact a wondrous mix of cultures and riches that go way beyond the changing of numbers on a screen.
With this, I’m not saying you’re not cool if you don’t wear a turban – even though some men could probably pull it off amazingly off the runway, whether it’s part of their culture or not. What I mean is that as Prada has shown us a scarlet, unabashed dandy and Etro gives us a relaxed billionaire from the East, menswear is becoming more differentiated. Sure, there will always be Burberry (suits), Hermès (really nice suits) and Armani (every man’s dinner jacket) – but it’s pleasurable to watch this side of fashion evolve into something more.
Designers are only now starting to break the Western notion that menswear is about formality and work, work, work. It is my hope that this brings about a significant change, something that will start giving all men, not just those in the spotlight, the confidence to dress differently and the freedom to wear not only what they think is appropriate, but what they think is inspiring.
Fashion is all about dreams – and that shouldn’t be limited to women.