We’re in the middle of the autumn/winter 2014 menswear show season. Thus far, it’s been a mixed bag. But I wonder if that’s the very nature of menswear. More so than womenswear, menswear is actually about clothing different identities.
It’s a bit like the Spice Girls. Any given men’s fashion week, you’ll see Posh, Sporty, quite a lot of Scary. It’s character-driven, a celebration of diversity, rather than forcing men into the same strict pigeon-holes that often hamper womenswear – such as last spring’s celebration of the short shifts and five-point bobs of the Sixties. Alienating much? The clothes aren’t made to fit you; you’re supposed to be remade to fit the clothes.
That just doesn’t happen in menswear: the very idea of tailor-made is that a man’s bespoke suit fits like a glove and is as comfortable as a second skin. This isn’t a feminist diatribe, but it is striking that menswear seems so much more malleable in its forms.
Even the more “difficult” menswear offerings, such as JW Anderson’s platform-sole ode to Quentin Crisp’s “Stately Homo” chic (my allusions, not his), don’t feel as tortured as many of the women’s shows. It’s thrown especially into relief next week, when we shift a gear from menswear straight into haute couture, fashion’s highest, most histrionic and heavily- corseted echelon. You’d crack a rib before you’d crack a smile at couture.
There are grand exceptions: Peter Jensen takes the themes and titles for each of his collections from real-life figures. The title of his latest, for pre-fall 2014, as it’s known, is “Sunny”, after Sunny von Bülow. The men’s is titled Claus, after her husband. There’s a hefty dose of unconventional wry humour to both. And plenty of great clothes, packed with character, for him and her. That why I not only rate Jensen’s creativity highly, but wear my loyalties, literally, on my sleeve.