Sometimes you come across something so unexpectedly poignant that it touches you beyond anticipation.
Greg Lauren’s showcase of his fashion at New York Fashion Week Mens (NYFWM and NYFW) was akin to an access to Fight Club, but beneath the layers of rugged machismo was a more sensitive testament to the world and how we associate with its stereotypes. He stated that he wanted to showcase how everyone was fighting something, internal or external, and utilized the medium of fashion to showcase the “pain beneath the beauty, the struggle behind the facade”.
Questioning the role of men in society, he had everything from gangs to working class laborers, boxers to craftsmen, and even a single child, sprawled around the massive art gallery exhibit at Art Beam. There were in fact six specific archetypes he focused on: nomads, artists, fighters, dandies, and the superheros.
The boxers were at the core center, dripping with sweat, semi shirtless or in thin sheer cloth apparel, with drop crotch sweats being a key trend, alongside beanies. Yet another punch on street style, but one done with enough charismatic story telling.
The detailing was spectacular, right to the suspender clad sailor looking lad wiping sweat and providing water to his boxing champion. While the surroundings of a bare torso model were complete with rusty chairs and iconic boxing gloves.
Tyson Beckford stood in his own heroic spotlight, motionless and beckoning the question of if heroes need the elevation, or the evidence of grit, effort and fights. Back to Greg Lauren, the question was indeed of whether heroes really exist, or not. Nonetheless, the hero hoodie made for a terrific cape on him.
There were also sparring models and gangs, standing with broody expressions, beanies made of knits, olive and navy or grey and black layers and chunky boots that worked with the machismo image of calm before storm. Or perhaps, the silence of victory?
Other individuals that stood out in the smoky den were a man dressed in all silver, akin to a modern day tin woodman. It wasn’t metallic or accessorized, but nonetheless appealing, made entirely of meshed metal.
The shoe shining dandy lads were right out of a French saga, complete with vests and hats, woolen blazers with joggers, and even a plaid suit with a grey skirt. Blending the lines of perfectionist seeking menswear with the ruggedness of how men are interpreted, it was a very adaptable take, with the boys looking smug, comfortable and effortlessly masculine.
The artists and labor folks were equally well dressed with blacks and whites reminding gapers of black-and-white movies of yesteryears. Baggy cropped joggers, longer cardigans, flare sleeve shirts, patchwork prints, and an ambiance made of leather seats and glistening crystal decanters, they all told a story of art, craft and reality. In simple black and white non technicolor hues, the collection was very wearable. The vials were actually filled with coffee, not whiskey, which would have blended perfectly for inspiration.
Next to the biker gang was a small 9 year old boy, his feet motionless instead of dangling, unlike kids of his ages. Surrounded by metal shards, tires and men in bombers, distressed hoodies and clothing in dark, broody colors, it was a testament to how children are growing up today. Growing up too early, perhaps, and observing the world that they will enter with a rapidly languishing innocence.
Fashion is a powerful medium that inspires, transforms, and is looked upon for immediate emulation. Greg Lauren used it effectively to make a statement about our modern lifestyles and reflection of male stereotypes. And for that alone, it makes it to the season’s finest.