New School Vs Legacy
If there was one major takeaway from the Men’s Fall/Winter ’24 collections, it was that there appears to be two major perspectives and that is the legacy vs new take on design. The first is a group of new creative directors who are bringing their maisons in a new direction, while the second is a group of existing fashion house heads honing their brand. Both take on the old question of how to balance between marketing and conceptual appeal while creating new clothing. The way brands convey the story through clothing while also guiding us in the direction that the house is headed is crucial.
Louis Vuitton’s creative direction is based on geographical aesthetics. Pharrell Williams’ predecessor Virgil Abloh succeeded in incorporating his vision while staying true to Louis Vuitton’s brand heritage. Abloh infused his collections with streetwear and sport elements to create a distinct visual identity. He also incorporated clean tailoring and his own African influences. However, Louis Vuitton’s Fall/Winter 2024 Men’s Collection chose to shine a light on “American Western dress” and workwear. From the “American Dandy” to the “First Cowboy” Louis Vuitton approached the collection through a country lens with suits and shirts chain-stitched with the cacti, bucrania and bolos of Western imagery alongside vaquero jackets with hand-embroidered metallic florals.
No doubt various pieces will be enjoyed by the Lil Nas X and Orville Pecks of the music industry who enjoy an updated take on Western American fashion but it begs the question of who Williams has in mind when he is designing the clothes and why is one of the biggest French luxury fashion houses taking the “American Western” approach. When Louis Vuitton’s Pre-Fall 2024 collection showed the House go to Hong Kong, the perspective was clear — to leverage on Hong Kong as a (re)burgeoning fashion market while highlighting the collection’s nautical-inspired collection. While this collection was indeed beautiful, there was a missing “Pharrell” stamp on the pieces that his predecessor was so successful at delivering. This is where Pharrell’s insight should come in. He knows how to brand artists visually in the music business and has worked on his image ever since the early 2000s.
Whatever you thought you knew about Alessandro Michele’s Gucci has gone out the window. Sabato De Sarno will lead the new Gucci. The magpie meets “more-is more” approach is now over, and replaced by irreverent glamour and exquisite simplicity. The ostentatious colour schemes and shapes are replaced by flashes in red, blue and green. The dawn of a new creative design is here, but this is by no means an attempt at quiet luxury. This is a reset, with the focus shifting to the collection’s accessories. Sophisticated designs and sleek wardrobe staples were paired with leather gloves and bags in the House’s signature Gucci Rosso colour. From crossbody bags to cylindrical cases, duffles to backpacks the leather pieces of the collection were the true pièce de résistance. They are saying that by focusing on their bags and accessories, they are also promoting the new designer team leader. This is “Gucci Ancora” and a brilliant menswear debut from Sabato De Sarno, marking a step in the right direction for both Gucci’s brand and marketability.
Givenchy explores “gentlemanliness” through the character of Hubert de Givenchy. The sartorial pieces had a nonchalant, flamboyant air that was brought out by the textures of outerwear and bomber coats. Givenchy’s infinity G monogram was brought out from archives and featured within the collection alongside the revival of the 2G emblem that was used on buckles. Givenchy always designs with the modern man in mind and so you will often find the collection’s feature youth take on clothing combined with subtle detailing.
Hermes artistic director Véronique Nichanian knows how to design with men in mind. It takes an exceptional design talent to introduce English checks and herringbone fabrics to a French fashion house. The collection was bursting with versatility, including a leather A-2 flight jacket and long belted leather coats. Knitwear featured mixed argyle patterning. Haut à Courroies bags were the standout accessories followed by crocodile leather belts and cashmere beanies.
Kim Jones is a master at translating narratives whether they are whimsical, sentimental or both without a literal interpretation. For Dior’s Winter 2024 men’s collection, the House took viewers on a historical journey through the life of Monsieur Dior’s late uncle, a ballet dancer turned photographer. Kim Jones has combined the worlds of ready-to wear and haute couture, adding his own theatricality as well as utilitarian finishes. Single-breasted suits in muted tones walked alongside “second-skin” ribbed knits and duffle-inflected outerwear together with elegant leather pieces and woolen jumpsuits. Rich fabrics of kimonos made with hand-crafted techniques added to the flamboyance and masculinity of the collection. Dior’s couture pieces are interwoven with ready to wear, perhaps a way of focusing on details in an age of fast fashion. Archive-inspired embroideries and utilitarian bags that amplify the existing House codes are further evidence that Dior doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel.
Pierpaolo Piccoli explored the characters and characteristics of the modern man while Valentino reflected on what defines masculinity today. Valentino’s Fall/Winter 2024 collection was a fresh take on traditional menswear and masculine wardrobe staples. Pierpaolo Piccioli did not reinvent menswear but made subtle adjustments. Double lapels can be added to the jacket to give it the appearance of two blazers.
Rick Owen’s special take on apocalyptic style has garnered a legion of followers propelling the brand into stardom. Voluminous leather creations masterfully crafted with a utopian twist paired with balloon-like footwear and larger-than-life jumpers. Pieces were crafted from deconstructed bicycle tires to deliver boxy motorcycle jackets — a standout piece from the collection. Enveloping duvet coats and oversized alpaca capes along with bulbous necklines and rubber-pull boots played into the oversized silhouettes that we have come to know of as Rick Owen’s industrial signature style.
Alessandro Sartori, the artistic director of Zegna, created pieces that can be interchanged and transformed into a variety of individual looks. Key pieces from Zegna included the new Triple Stitch Monte Shoes and the Il Conte Jacket alongside the Oasi of Cashmere’s ever-evolving silhouettes which were seen in the collection through Sartori artful layering and a multi-dimensional approach to colour. The collection’s double-collared blazers, collarless anoraks and knitted tops suggest not only functionality but also provide a variety of adaptable pieces suited to a range of styles.
Click here to read more about the latest luxury fashion news and runway shows.