Black magic: Move over to fashion's dark side this winter with monochrome menswear

These striking outfits prove less is more when you wear black on your back

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Black is a fashion cliché – the wearing of the actual shade, and the dubbing of colours across the spectrum as its sartorial replacement.

Over the past twenty or so years fashion's black it has been everything from brown, to red, to satsuma orange and lime green simultaneously (spring 1996, to be precise on that odd substitution). But when fashion translates to cinema, nothing has ever replaced the sooty stuff when it comes to impact.

Well, sort of. In the black-and-white era, most of the "black" we saw was actually colours like bottle-green or navy blue, to avoid seeming a mere inky ill-defined blot on the silver screen. Nevertheless, the image of the shrouded male figure as harbinger of doom, portent of grief and otherwise sinister stuff, will forever be indelibly dressed in darkness – even when colour hit, the scariest moments continued to be rendered in monochrome.

There is another side to black in cinema: besides grieving or causing grief, it stands for mystery, for secrecy. The men in black are espionage operatives, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, or maybe crime-fighting caped crusaders. It’s the sleeker, chicer and decidedly less flashy alternative for superhero attire. Admittedly, it frequently clads the villains too.


And the rebels as well as the law-makers: the black leather jacket of Brando’s Wild One rubs shoulders with the sober suits of CIA or FBI officials. Good and bad, black has it all. That actually echoes something Coco Chanel once said, she who invented the Little Black Dress and changed womenswear forever. Incidentally, she was once brought out to Hollywood to design for the big screen, but her clothes were deemed insufficiently theatrical to register.

There’s never that issue with menswear: subtlety is key, both on and off the screen. And nothing epitomises the idea of less is more more succinctly than black on your back.

Styling: Lee Holmes

Photographs: Nik Hartley

Model: Emiel at Supa Model Management

Grooming: Craig Taylor for Hari's Salon SW3, using Kiehl's