At the CFDA Fashion Awards announcement party the Olsens showed us how to wear suits this season, in pre-fall pieces from their label The Row which was nominated for the New Talent Award. The Row has a streamlined and classic aesthetic which exudes understated luxury. The masculine tailored pieces are particularly great, always striking the perfect balance between menswear and femininity. Here are two suits and two very different looks which encapsulate Mary Kate and Ashley’s different styles.
Twin A: Ashley gives us a lesson in Seventies tailoring and is all summery pastels, palazzo pants and a waistcoat with nothing underneath. The palest pastel pink and her neat ponytail lends a minimalist and masculine edge.
Twin B: Mary Kate sticks to her rock and roll roots with black skinny jeans, pointed shoulders and python clutch. Her single strap Louis Vuitton heels are particularly cool, a little bit bohemian, and break up the black.
Twin A + Twin B + two pairs of John Lennon sunglasses = How to do suits this spring
Detachable collars. Yep, they are literally how they sound: a collar, with no shirt attached. They are a genius component for layering and a lovely new genre of jewellery. At first the concept sounds a bit daft, but you’ll warm up to it. Honest.
Check out these little babies from Eleven Objects. I mean, what more could you want? (except, perhaps, being made from fake fur instead of calf hair) Massive studs, leopard print, and lots of crystal gems. The possibilities of how to wear them are endless. Check out the ManRepeller trialing it on Refinery 29, for some fabulous examples, like with a strapless maxi/over a sixties dress/ with a tank top.
If your pockets aren’t knee deep with money to spend $300 a pop for an Eleven Objects collar, take a note out of fellow menswear lover Jade Williams of the band Sunday Girl. She has a mutual love for them and was recently quoted saying, ‘I have a thing for shirt collars, I have loads of vintage detachable ones floating around my room’. If trawling around Brick Lane isn’t your thing, then ASOS have some great ones. I particularly luuurve these…
The white ones have a pretty vintage feel perfect for the daytime, and the black one with glossy beads is ideal for the evening. And at only £10-15 each, much easier on the purse strings. Warming up to the idea yet?
Spring has finally arrived, and suddenly it feels natural to wear bright colours and cheerful florals again. The catwalks served these up in masculine tailored pieces, which are ever so wearable. Raf Simons made block colour synonymous with Jil Sander, and the inimitably cool Tilda Swinton has already been spotted wearing his designs. As for English Roses with an edge, Paul Smith is your go to man with his offerings of sheer tailored separates.
I am pining for Stella McCartney’s floral printed shorts and Whistle’s yellow shirt; worn together, and you’ll be ticking off both trends at once. Spring tailoring has never looked so fresh.
The silk shirt is that menswear piece everyone needs. Silk shirts were ubiquitous last season, and continue to be into spring and summer. They are the perfect bridge between menswear and womenswear: the tailored lines and masculine details are still there, but in the most sensuous of fabrics perfect for the feminine form.
Jane Shepherdson, chief executive of Whistles recently confirmed this to the Guardian, ‘It is a huge trend, and it’s massive for all retailers at the moment’. In fact, Whistles’ sales of silk shirts are up 200%. Shepherdson explained that the appeal of the silk shirt is that ‘they can be all things to all people; they go with everything, either at work or an evening event, so they represent great value’.
Designers and retailers are well aware of the success of the silk shirt, and there are some great offerings out there. I say get into that summer spirit with these beaut white styles:
Alexander Wang has stayed true to his sporty aesthetic in this white shirt with cape detailing. The panelling and concealed buttons on the Topshop shirt make it look three times more expensive than it actually costs, making it one of those high street finds you brag about. The Olsen twins have contrasted shiny and matte silk in their design, and have [fortunately] managed to avoid ice-skater territory at the same time.
The success of Felipe Rojas Llanos was probably set in stone when his Central Saint Martins MA Menswear collection was snapped up by iconic London boutique Browns. With this honour, Rojas Llanos is in the company of fashion greats including John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Christopher Kane.
After this success, Rojas Llanos decided to set up his self titled Menswear label with best friend Sanam Jehanfard. Raised in Sweden and currently designing from London, Rojas Llanos’ designs nod to the nonchalance and edge of where he is from, all with the aim to create ‘beautifully crafted Menswear, which is both elegant and wearable’. Rojas Llanos describes them as ‘voluminous designs with a couture-like attention to detail and fabrics. They are for the guy who wants to look and feel exceptional’.
For his Spring Summer 2011 collection (his second collection so far), ‘the main inspiration came from the greys, whites and blues in the outfit of Dreamgirl, one of the main characters in a comic called The Legion of Superheroes set in the thirtieth century. The futuristic look of the series inspired the choice of light, shiny fabrics and the structured shapes of the garments’. The result is a collection of streamlined wardrobe staples in lush silks and sumptuous jewel colours of indigo, noir and rose pink, offset by stark white and the palest grey.
Rojas Llanos tells me he is not short of female customers, ‘they love the minimal designs and luxurious fabrics. There is something very transitional about our clothes; the styling would just depend on the woman and what look she goes for’. Imagine his silver silk taffeta chinos worn with the highest of heels, the collarless indigo blazer framing your décolletage and a coloured crop top layered underneath one of his rose coloured transparent T-shirts. The look is total luxe.
Hwan Sung Park, half of the design duo behind Mens tailoring label A.Hallucination, is looking as sharp as his Spring Summer 2011 collection. In a knee length trench coat the palest shade of beige, white chinos and two tone golf shoes, his look mirrors that of his label: subtle yet of pure style.
A.Hallucination is created by Central Saint Martins Menswear graduates Hwan Sung Park and Chung Chung Lee. Their career path ranges from the big names including Burberry, Tom Ford and Alexander McQueen, to the quieter but by no means less important tailoring labels such as Ozwald Boateng and Lil Sang Bong.
Spring Summer 2011 may only be A.Hallucination’s second collection, but their aesthetic is firmly established. Sung Park describes the look as ‘the character of a proper English gentleman augmented with contemporary detailing’. Casual wear and formalwear are fused into classic pieces with ‘razor sharp lines, sophisticated fabrics and timeless fits’.
Their Spring Summer 11 collection ‘has used Jude Law’s character, Dickie Greenleaf from The Talented Mr Ripley as a muse. An individual and true gentleman: passionate about music, the arts and life’s romantic cultures’. The result is a smart and seductive collection of dandy tailoring in shades of dove grey, olive green and inky blue. In lightweight cottons, linen and wool jersey, the collection brings to mind a traditional English Summer of vintage tea parties. Yet A.Hallucination are careful to not be too predictable: there is the odd latex short, unexpected fold of fabric and exposed chunky zip.
Cozette McCreery of Men’s knitwear label Sibling London is a walking example of why the brand is coveted by as many women as it is by men. She towers above me in sky high ankle boots, leather leggings, a Sibling London black jumper emblazoned with skulls, and her long hair tied taught in a ponytail atop of her head. Like the label, she oozes London cool.
The cult knitwear label is designed by Joe Bates and Sid Bryan, who between them have an education in Menswear, Womenswear and knitwear, and have worked for fashion greats including Alexander McQueen, Giles Deacon and John Galliano. McCreery has been in the fashion circuit since she was sixteen and with her extensive contacts list, heads up the press. The label was formed over their shared love of knitwear and as for its aesthetic, ‘Sibling is like us: sometimes loud, always fun and a bit traditional’. Their designs can work for anyone, ‘from your skateboarding brother, to that cool kid on the street of Tokyo, to a very English school headmaster’.
Past collections have featured neon zombies, twists on traditional school uniform and sequined leopard prints. Their Spring Summer 2011 collection references ‘Pop Art, Brit Art, cartoons and Punks’ and features red camouflage, traditional typography and American motifs. It includes two pieces created in collaboration with artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster, inspired by their neon sculptures ‘Puny and Undernourished Kid’ and ‘Girlfriend from Hell’, in which neon expletives run riot on simple black knitwear. The collection, like all the others, is gutsy, playful and subversive.
McCreery is ‘a total tomboy and naturally I wear Sibling. Because I’m so social, everyone sees me out in it and all the girls want it.’ As for what the Elle girl should go for, McCreery thinks that ‘anything works really, but our knitted take on the traditional biker jacket does work fantastically well. The softness of the knit makes them so easy to throw on; it looks as great over a T-shirt and jeans as it does with a ball gown. I wear mine with a gold velvet strapless Richard Nicoll frock’.
It began with my dad’s sweatshirt. Made of the palest grey marl with a cartoon parrot printed on the front, it is far from fashionable and is darned to death, but that doesn’t matter.
I was seventeen and already hooked on wearing Menswear. Today, five years later, that sweatshirt is still what I go to on bleary eyed mornings, chilly nights, and those days when I just want to wear my Dad’s jumper.
Fortunately for me, I have a brother. Unfortunately for him, he was my next victim. I pinched his cardigans, cut his jeans into shorts and wore his t-shirts with the sleeves rolled up. No piece of Menswear is ever safe in my house. When you borrow from someone you love- a family member, friend or lover- you are wearing a security blanket and your heart on your sleeve.
A friend of mine, fashion journalist Alison Taylor agrees, ‘I like wearing my Dad’s old cardigans because of how out sized they are, and just because they are his cardigans I’m wearing. I like that he’s not into fashion and I am, but it is his cardigans that I like to wear’. The over-sized look women get by borrowing clothes from men has become a trend in itself, but buying an oversized jumper from the high street or a vintage store just feels like you’re faking it.