Everyone automatically and understandably assumes the menswear collections are more “relatable” for male fashion journalists. After all the flim-flam and frilly frockery of the couture, Resort and womenswear collections – dominating three-quarters of the fashion calendar – the menswear shows in London, Paris and Milan (my current station) show clobber we men can actually, finally buy. Right? Wrong.
Wrong for me, at least. I'm 5ft 7in and my chest is 35 inches. I'm the sort of bloke you see being folded into lockers in early-Eighties Bratpack films while Molly Ringwald runs off with Judd Nelson.
I have no issue with skinniness – and neither does fashion. Back in his days at Dior Homme, Hedi Slimane cut suits so skinny only the lankiest models could fit, a theme he's currently revisiting at Saint Laurent Paris.
If all else fails, you can buy womenswear – I do. It's an idea which has lost the frisson of shock to dedicated fashion followers. Phoebe Philo's Céline has no menswear arm (yet) but when her Vans-style ponyskin slip-ons go on sale in New York, sizes 40 and 41 are the first to sell out, consistently, to men. Her sweaters, outwear and logoed T-shirts do a roaring trade with the fellows too.
However, size does matter. It certainly makes it difficult for me to relate to the models on the catwalk. The minimum height for a male model is 5ft 10in, but most hover around 6ft. That's where the gap between catwalk and reality becomes a gaping schism. Oversized coats and jackets are always out. They end up looking like I'm a schoolboy wandering around in my dad's cast-offs.
Trousers are the biggest issue. They have to be skinny. Excess fabric on the thigh is magnified on short legs, easily mistaken for the dreaded jodhpur. Generally, I rely on jeans – stretch black jeans by Cheap Monday, something skinny that goes with everything, a neutral base. John Galliano once declared that the inspiration behind a Dior couture collection was the cut of Napoleon's army's trousers. They were designed to make them look “taller and more menacing”. I could do with that.
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