Return of the men in grey: Next year's menswear trends

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Using subdued colours, Mod silhouettes and crisp fabrics, designers kept it simple at the 2011 men's shows in Paris and Milan. Adam Welch reports on next year's trends

At the menswear shows this June, there were plenty of reasons to celebrate: 2010 is the 40th year in business for both Kenzo and Roberto Cavalli, the 20th for Dolce & Gabbana's men's line, the 15th for Raf Simons (as well as his fifth as creative director at Jil Sander) and the fifth for Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy (though only his second designing menswear).

Given such a coincidence of anniversaries, you'd have been forgiven for anticipating a succession of jubilant runway shows, bursting with fiesta colours. But the oracles have spoken: it seems that spring 2011 is going to be a season of chic understatement.

A Skort History

One trend that must be mentioned – if only because it keeps popping up, regardless of the public’s sustained indifference – is the ‘skort’. A sassy little number beloved by early proponents Rei Kawakubo (see Comme des Garçons, winter 2008) and Thom Browne (where to begin?), the skort – a pair of shorts with a skirt-like front flap – came in several configurations this season. Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy did them in leopard spots, black and beige, with the option to choose from straight-up or button down varieties. Rising star Damir Doma found the missing link between skorts, wrap shorts and harem pants in his poetic, earthy collection and Raf Simons showed skorts (in white and pink), skirts (in pale-pink rubber) and, for those not quite brave enough to jump on this effeminate trend quite yet, some bum-skirting culottes.

Skins

Even devoted style addicts might find this trend difficult to swallow for hot summers, but it looks like they'll have to grin and wear it: leather was everywhere, from the S&M-tinged ensembles of Emporio Armani's Gaga-tastic show (which played out to the pop queen's "Alejandro" video) to the tasselled leather trousers and jackets at Versace and suede T-shirts at Hermès. The labels that managed to make this look work did it with a nod to youthful rebellion: Burberry Prorsum (the leader of the pack) paired leather biker trousers with intricately studded jackets, Frida Giannini at Gucci channelled the caramel leather jackets and suede-fronted tees of Seventies rockers, while Dries Van Noten trimmed his beautifully composed, mod-inspired silhouettes (which he rightly described as "a new elegance") with asymmetric leather patches and cardigans fastened to one side with long leather belts.

Get Physical

'Utility' is hardly a new concept for men's clothing. Having said that, several of the spring shows seemed more than usually focused on practical workwear. Miuccia Prada fielded hospital scrubs, voluminous builder shorts, and some incredible brogues (soled with sneaker treads and rope) to create a long, bulky silhouette. Tomas Maier at Bottega Veneta went for a military palette of brown, khaki and beige, with ankle-strapped trousers, rumpled suits, nylon parkas and cross-strapped, off-on-holiday sandals. Workwear addict Adam Kimmel, added a surprising twist to his seasonal "celebration of American culture", as he put it, with a collection inspired by Snoop Dogg (the presentation centring around a car equipped with bouncing hydraulics). But the most unexpected offering was from Lanvin – a brand better known for its dressy, crumpled suits and drawing-room chic. Models stormed onto the runway wearing treaded sports sandals with knit cycling shorts and zipped jackets. They looked not only ready for action, but tough and well travelled, with biker trousers raggedly deconstructed, corsair-like shirts hanging wide open, and necks dangling with chains.

Monochromania

Now don't get the wrong idea, there were some colours flying about at the – admittedly dark-hued – spring shows. Raf Simons seemed to have got high on highlighter pens in his fluorescent Jil Sander collection, while Prada, Etro, Kenzo, Hermès and (of course) Missoni also showed some bright colours. But these flashes of brilliance aside, a lot of the clothes on the runways were in black or white: a simple, Sunday-best palette that seemed crisp and focused. Nowhere was this more oddly ingenious than at Ann Demeulemeester's show, where, as if to emphasise the on-off contrast of monochrome, attendees were presented with a flashlight as they were seated. Demeulemeester then fielded 20 looks in top-to-toe white cotton (themselves neat new variations on the designer's favoured Napoleonic silhouette), followed by the same 20, but all in black, with details replicated in leather. Fellow deconstructivist Rei Kawakubo presented an almost entirely black-and-white collection for Comme des Garçons, in which the recurring theme was grinning skulls, obsessively emblazoned across uncomplicated tailored jackets and shorts. In a similar vein, far from trumpeting their own 20th anniversary year in menswear, Dolce & Gabbana began their this-is-where-we-came-from show with a series of all-white suits, and finished it with a group walkout of Sicilian gents in sharp black tuxedos and white shirts.

The Mighty Jungle

Beneath the simplicity of spring 2011, and its practical, travelling clothes, lay a yearning for more exotic environments. The most intuitive synthesis of this urge was at Louis Vuitton, where mens-wear designer Paul Helbers decorated his light ensembles with crocodile prints and oriental motifs. Backstage after the show, Marc Jacobs was quick to elaborate on how thrilled he was with it all: "I always think Paul's so strong in terms of putting together a collection, having influences and references, and being very imaginative without the clothes suffering for it." If this was a subtle nod to the call of the wild, Riccardo Tisci's Givenchy collection – inspired by Victorian circus freaks – was anything but, much to the delight of its gleeful audience. The collection of leopard-print suits, lace tees, bone necklaces and gas masks was described by the designer, at his emotional backstage reception, as "very personal – in a way that people are a little bit scared to do today in fashion". It was an example of Tisci's commitment to the cause of menswear and subverting its practices – an attitude that has made him, in the space of two years, one of Paris's star performers in menswear. If you're in the market for some new spots this season, though, there are more places to get them: Trussardi 1911, Bernhard Willhelm and Yves Saint Laurent also fielded leopard prints.

Simple Pleasures

"I've become convinced that men don't want to suffer any more," said Kris Van Assche as well-wishers (including Karl Lagerfeld) clustered around him after the Dior Homme show. "It's really about 'less is more'." The Belgian designer's minimalist tendencies this spring, evident in Dior's sleeveless V-neck shirts, and shawl-like lengths of fabric on jackets and coats ("as if I took it away from the sewing machine"), were echoed across the runways of Paris and Milan. Rick Owens turned his usual bombast down a notch by launching his show with variations on a single-buttoned, lurch-shouldered coat.

Similarly, arch-experimentalists Maison Martin Margiela worked with a typically complicated premise (using the rectangle as a basis for all proportions and patterns) to produce a remarkable but straightforward collection, typified by its chic, lapel-less jackets, relaxed trousers and smooth wooden waistcoats (held together at the back with a single hand-stitch). Alexander McQueen's creative director, Sarah Burton, also simplified the house's trademarks: single-buttoned, double-breasted jackets and straight, loose trousers, with just a smattering of digital prints. It was a concise, wistful offering that paid tribute to the late designer without coming across as a brash rerun of past glories.

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

    £27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

    Day In a Page

    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture