I’m not sure whether I’m early or late writing this. One of the highlights of Pitti Uomo 93 in January, and the entire menswear season, was the AW18 Undercover show. I wanted to write something about it at the time, but I’ve been playing catch-up ever since.
Far Left - A still from the film, Left - Undercover AW18
The Leopolda Station in Florence was transformed into an homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a timeless inspiration for pretty much everybody, but I’d never seen it done this literally before.
The scene in which the astronauts wear their coloured suits was the finale of the collection and looked as though they had just stepped out of the film.
The 1968 science fiction film, produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, is now 50 years old and is still a masterpiece of sci-fi cinema.
I hadn’t seen an Undercover show before and I didn’t know that much about the label. Founded in 1993 by Jun Takahashi, it began showing in Paris in 2002. For this season, it was a guest of Pitti Uomo in Florence.
Left - Both Undercover AW18
That naughty computer HAL 9000 was up to his tricks and played a prominent part in the collection in the form of bags and accessorises. There were full fleece suits, a simple idea, but not seen before, and something I will mention again later in the season. Stills from the film covered outerwear, but it is the final group of figures, in full, colour-coordinating outfits, that you should emulate.
So, when shopping for you next cold weather outfit, buy everything in the same primary colour. From parka to padded trousers to matching hat and gloves.
Z Zegna, the sporty side of Zegna, did something similar and it’s easy to find Space Odyssey inspiration in interiors and architecture. Happy birthday, Space Odyssey.
Left - Z Zegna AW18
Below - Achille Salvagni - Spider White Chandelier
Patterned silk shirt open to the waist, long gold necklace drawing the gaze to the chest and hair slicked back like a wannabe Lothario, this retro idea of male sexuality is having a beautiful renaissance.
Think more Harry Styles than Simon Cowell. It’s part of our fascination with masculine images: a Joy of Sex era cliché of what a man should look like. It also complements the return of moustaches, necklaces - see TheChicGeek’s Medallion Man - and hirsute bodies.
Two young and stylish brands have appeared to facilitate this new trend. Specialising in silk shirts, they are pioneering a new idea of male sensuality, and promoting this sensuous, form-hugging material, not to mention the way it takes prints, and giving you many seductive reasons why it should be the fulcrum of your Summer wardrobe.
Left - MrSloane - Tom Cat Jade - £250
A mysterious ‘MrSloane’ has appeared. Helen, the designer behind the brand, who would rather remain anonymous, says, “the enigma of ‘MrSloane’ was largely created as a fictional character, either male or female, hence the way the MrSloane label is spelt ‘together’ ...ie Mr or Mrs..depending on how you read it.”
Right MrSloane - Kimono - £250
Loosely referencing the 70s screen play ‘Entertaining Mr Sloane’, which features an ambiguous relationship between the film’s 3 main characters, it also echoes the ‘his or her’ element of the shirts. Newly launched in December, 2017, her aim was “to create a brand which was reflective of my own personal tastes. Fusing the grit of rock ’n’ roll legends doused in overt glamour and danger, influenced by the NY Disco scene; the collection reflects a melting pot of inspiration combined with rare vintage finds, including antique kimonos, Oriental objet and 70s silk scarves” she says.
What made her want to start her own brand of silk shirts? “A lack of choice in the current market - I either scour ‘Designer Vintage’, in order to find good enough fabrics, which are not 70s polyester, and that led me to create my own label.” says Helen.
Maximillian Robinson launched his eponymous label last year. Only 21, his aunt is handbag queen, Anya Hindmarch, he says, “growing up I have always admired fashion and, more specifically, those that challenge the norms and create striking collections. I wanted to do something unique and identifiable, I’ve always loved what many would describe as ‘loud’ prints and it’s these prints that I have designed which is what gives Maximilian Robinson its name.
“From the beginning I wanted the debut collection to stand out, be full of colour and offer something different. I saw silk as the answer. The way the shirts hang offers something completely different to the norm, along with the versatility of the material. It never looks out of place, whether you’re on a beach or out for dinner,” says Max.
Left - Maximillian Robinson - The Snow Leopard - £280
Many guys see the silk shirt as distinctively feminine or hard to wear and are therefore quite reluctant. “Sometimes people are sceptical about some of the loud prints, but as soon as they put one on they fall in love!” he says.
“I think there is a preconception that silk is always very shiny and too feminine,” say Helen. “The printed silk shirt is very flattering, ours come with a slightly deeper cuff and carefully considered collar, not too retro, nor too mean!” she says.
So, how to wear it? “I’d definitely encourage guys to take the silk shirt plunge and embrace the look. Not only do silk shirts look super cool, but they drape so well on the body, (especially the sleeves) and feel incredible against the skin..unlike a lot of vintage pieces which can be synthetic,” says Helen.
Right - Maximillian Robinson - The Midnight Black - £250
“My advice to any guy would be, wear unbuttoned, as low as you dare, just ensure manscaping and grooming is in check. I would advise keeping the fourth button safely fastened unless of course you’re on ‘Holiday’ and then proceed with caution. Three buttons left undone should be enough for most men, no matter how body confident they are.”
Max says, “I’ve seen them worn in so many different ways, as I said, that’s why I love working with silk, the shirts look great casual with a pair of jeans, or for dinner or can be dressed up with a jacket, but also look at home on top of swimwear on the beach.”
The silk shirt is a luxurious and confident treat of an item. It’s about playing around with male sexuality, with a knowing wink, and offers a fun return of the shirt. The way it drapes, hugs and falls on the upper torso is asking for it to be opened.
Try one and, then ask yourself, "how low will I go?!"
See Label To Know - The Silk Shirt Company - here
Straight from the dry cleaners, the trend for boxfresh, cellophane wrapped and pristine fashion hit its zenith at the recent Paris shows.
Make like your granny's sofa and add a clear coat for SS18. Perfect for public transport!
From Left - Balenciaga SS18, Ports 1961 Resort 2018, Balenciaga SS18