THE FALL GUYS; AUTUMN MENSWEAR FROM A-Z
Sunday 05 October 1997
Bright and bold or small and significant, checks are an essential part of every man's wardrobe this autumn. What you choose says a lot about your personality: the more extrovert you are, the louder the check. Romeo Gigli's are simply tasteful; Yohji Yamamoto's are a touch Bridget Riley, Comme des Garcons' mad mixes are for the wild at heart, and Dolce e Gabbana's window-pane checks are funky but traditional.
What do you get if you cross Elvis, a long-distance truck driver and Brad Pitt? Americana, is what: a mix of influences from college boy to hard-faced tough-nut. A slimline leather jacket is essential, as is a jumper - preferably form-fitting, either polo or V-necked. A baseball motif helps. Red mixed with denim blue or chino beige equals preppy; a chunky belt, sexy trousers and little hat equals Al Pacino as Serpico. Cool.
This year, the dandy comes in two types: Oscar Wilde or Brett Anderson. Wilde wrote that, 'with an evening coat and a white tie, anybody, even a stockbroker, can gain a reputation for being civilised', but his taste would undoubtedly have been better pleased by John Rocha's flamboyant colours, frills, velvet and cravats. Brett fans, on the other hand, are more likely to prefer baring their chests in Gucci's unbuttoned sateen shirts.
He likes to touch and be touched. And who can resist brushing up against layers of boucle wool, fuzzy felt, chunky corduroy, velvet and tweed? This is a look that suits men of all shapes and ages; and as the 'new' tweed is smooth and soft on the skin, it's comfortable too. Missoni is the name to go for - or choose Brits who know about traditional fabric mixes: Vivienne Westwood, Katharine Hamnett or Nigel Curtiss.
CLOSE-UP: BIG TROUSERS
Make no mistake about it. For the foreseeable future, men's trousers are going to be inescapably big, long and baggy - at least when it comes to designer names, as it's likelier to be a little while before the high street gets its head round the loons and flares that filled the autumn/winter catwalk shows. These big trousers owe more to the fullness of the old Oxford bag than the flyaway hems of a pair of glam-rock Seventies flares: they are the sort of thing Gramps wore in the Forties (and of course he was copying a look that started in the Twenties ... ). Just be careful you don't get your foot caught in the cuffs and fall down the stairs.
Jean Paul Gaultier often plunders British street culture for his shows. This season was no exception. He brought several Britboy types down the catwalk, no doubt spotted on forays into the depths of London's clubland. Along with Mods and Rockers sticking their fingers up at the audience, there was Bootboy (above), complete with CND symbol on his head. Britboy style has many permutations, but Richard Ashcroft, lead singer with The Verve, is probably its ultimate exponent. Indeed, most indie musicians cultivate the look: grown-out hair, leather jacket, slim shirt and dark jeans. But most important is the attitude, something we Brits have got in buckets.
CLOSE-UP: THE NO-NO
Sometimes menswear designers seem to feel they have to reinvent the wheel. Really, it's not neccessary. Let common sense prevail: there is no escaping the fact that most men have two arms and two legs. Over the years, it's been proved that jackets work best when they have two sleeves, a single collar and open at the front, while trousers are usually adequate with just two legs and a couple of pockets. Women can get away with the one- shouldered toga look, but whatever the designers at British label Burro might say, sorry guys, don't even think about it. Especially when you wear it over a shirt and tie (above). It's not sexy, it's not funny. It's not for you.
The newest take on the tie comes from the Belgian modernist Dirk Bikkembergs (above). It's a scarily hard-edged affair, with a shiny stainless-steel plate covering the knot. Bikkembergs has a penchant for sending muscle- bound men down his catwalks, and verges on fashion fascism with his vision of the perfect male marching along in time to thrashing techno music. If you like your tie to be a little softer and friendlier, look out for this season's design from Nigel Curtiss. He's put together a clever little number that sports contrasting patterns on each side: so when it's knotted, it looks like you're wear- ing two ties at once. Now that's value for money.
Tom Baker-era Doctor Who scarves - the longer and stripier the better - are all the rage with men in the know. Yohji Yamamoto's (above) certainly wouldn't look out of place in a Tardis, taking you back to the days when you hid behind the sofa because the Daleks were coming. If you don't fancy tripping over your scarf ends, opt for something a bit shorter and more luxurious, in brightly coloured cashmere from Clements Ribeiro, or fringed and knitted from luxury Italian house Etro. Or you can of course cheat, and sport an elephant-grey-and-pink school scarf from John Lewis's schoolwear department. At pounds 14.95, it's the bargain of the season.
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