Behold, two distinct archetypes of masculinity.
Inspiration comes in many forms, and from different periods of life. While I have explored how period inspiration can craft fashion, I found the juxtaposed presentations of military versus sailor life to be most fascinating at New York Fashion Week Mens (NYFWM). Not so much because of the individual interpretations of the respective designers, but more so because of the disparate sources of inspiration in these masculine forms of yester-living.
Kenneth Ning‘s presentation was called “Full Metal Jacket”, a namesake of the movie itself. Ning chose to convey fun tones between the lines of the 1987 British-American war movie by Stanley Kubrick.
Almost apocalyptic in styling, the dominant hues were the military greens and browns, alongside blacks and greys to symbolize the rigors of life in the military.
There were several suits with a plethora of pockets, one which caught my fancy due to its utilitarian element: navy with silver zippers and a plethora of stashworthy pockets all over the jacket and trousers.
There were many camo jacquard suit jackets – one particularly long and enticing in black and white. Alongside were sleeveless vests, long shirts and baggy trousers, all in rugged plaid or plain patterns with some signs of wear and distress. While some shirts were doubled and layered, some were mismatched, as if borrowed from the military itself, and many had interesting accents and detailing and accessories which mandated a closer peer. Much to the discomfort of the military style frozen models!
A black bomber style anorak nylon rip-stop jacket, with layers of destruction and crinkle, was another favorite, perhaps owing to its utility as a luggage carrier and weather protector.
Taking a dive into another form of masculinity was Matiere, paying homage to the roots of San Francisco, a city that I have fallen in love with for its culinary point of view. Designer Scot Shandalove named this the “Dead Sea” collection, complete with large sails in red, white and blue behind the similarly hued models.
The back story was that the designer sold tie dye shirts by following the Grateful Dead, as he traveled along the California coast in the 80s, taking breaks in concerts aplenty. He brought the hues to life in a slightly more sailor-style collection, where the focus was on color: pigment sprays, overdyed shirts, dip dyes and ombre hues all over. As a nod to the humble beginnings, the collection truly tied my favorite element of travel into his vision of style.
Given San Francisco‘s coastal location, fabrics for his styles were also imported: Japanese raw silk terry, cottons, waterproof nylon, all in sea blues and sun faded colors. The color combinations were reminiscent of men in the seas, often paired with dip dyed linen or wide seersucker stripes.
The former was a favorite, in a rusty blue burnout fabric.
Many models sported sunglasses, a Californian staple. And while limited to shades of red, white and blue, the colors were a nod to the Painted Ladies houses, an icon of the Bay Area.
When San Francisco comes to mind, I cannot help but think of its cool temperatures all year round, an unlikely expectation from California. Which is why I liked the waterproof and translucent nylon outerwear piece for its sheer functionality.
With such disparate threads of masculinity on display, I liked that menswear had reached a pedestal where, similar to women’s fashion weeks, styles could be delineated into moods, occasions, and symbolic metaphors, too.
So, military or sailor styles?