For all of the interesting prints and details in the Marni's women's collection, the men's line never quite seems to have the same effect. Rather than tapping into the brand's signature features, instead it always tend to feel like a diluted version of Consuelo Castiglioni's women's offerings. As a result, I often find myself clinging on to the few statement pieces from the collections as opposed to the more subdued and plain utilitarian trousers and shirts.
Don't get me wrong, Castiglioni's penchant for creating practical worker's clothes does work, especially this season on the lazer cut jeans and a cotton mac, but it would be good to see her push things forward.
While her spring/summer 2013 offerings didn't stray too far away from that, it definitely took a step in the right direction. This season stripes were the print de jour and came in clashing colours on shirts and shorts, on a shorts version of their signature pyjama style as well as along the hemline of trousers and on t-shirts and knitwear.
For someone so well known for looking forward Italo Zucchelli uncharacteristically took a look back with Calvin Klein's S/S13 menswear collection. The collection opened with a triple denim look on a stone wash shirt, jacket and jeans combo, which instantly brought back memories of their eighties and nineties campaigns.
You'll be pleased to hear that Zucchelli didn't complete reject his penchant for looking to the future. As always it was the fabrics where he was really playful. Tuxedo jackets were relaxed and were updated with mesh lapels, shirts came with textured engineered and abstract prints apparently inspired by California summers and bomber jackets were given a futuristic twist with a shiny finish.
While the homage to the brand's American sportswear roots was a welcomed unexpected twist, the collection lacked the energy that it did last season. Since the decision to reflect on the brand's signatures was such a big departure from his normal train of thought, it would have been more interesting to see him update the classics and give them a modern twist that in the way he usually manages to do naturally.
Today's Jil Sander menswear show was always going to be a big one, as it marked the return of the label's founder after an eight year hiatus. Despite the fact that it was Sander who started the label and created the minimalist aesthetic that continues to hold the house in good stead, it wouldn't be too far-fetched to say that the pressure was on today. RafSimons did such a great job at the house so it was always going to be interesting to see how the brand would fair under her leadership again.
Not much has changed. The S/S13 collection featured pieces that epitomised Sander's paired back, fuss-free style. This season in particular tailoring was a focus and manifested itself on crisp white shirts teamed with black trousers and double breasted blazers or oversized waistcoats. Colour blocking came on cardigans in various combinations of yellow, green, cream and blue and colour blocking was also created by the way models appeared on the runway, as head-to-toe blue looks developed into yellow followed by burgundy.
While the collection was typically Sander and will undoubtedly do well, it didn't have the energy that we've become accustomed to from the brand under Simons' leadership.
With the success of his womenswear line and that upcoming collaboration with Topshop on everyone's minds, you'll be forgiven for forgetting that JW Anderson started as a menswear designer. It's only relatively recently that he was so kind as to offer something for us female fans of the brand desperate to get in on the action.
For S/S13 he definitely made sure that his menswear offerings stand out and don't fall into the shadows. As always the collection isn't for the faint hearted. Take the series of teddy bear printed t-shirts that he showed. While it's more than likely that they will go down well at retail, it definitely takes a certain man to dare to wear them. The same is true for a hot pink asymmetric blazer that came styled Lady Gaga-style without anything underneath.
It's with pieces like these that Anderson sometimes goes down a more effeminate route but that being said, he always manages to reign it in and not go too far so as to alienate his more cautious customer. Besides, the collection featured enough core staple pieces like tailored trousers (and bell bottoms!) and ribbed knits to make sure that all bases are covered next season.
Today's Pringle of Scotland show was bittersweet. When Alistair Carr presented his debut menswear collection for the house, it was met with mixed reviews. Last season saw him take a huge step in the right direction and today he really seemed to come into his own. The only downside is that today marked his final collection as the brand's creative director before they take it in-house. On a more positive note, it was definitely a strong exit and not a bad way to leave.
One of the biggest challenges that Carr has always faced is the brand's knitwear heritage. In the past he's seemed overwhelmed by it leading him to rely on the archive rather than reworking the classic styles and taking them forward. Today was the day that he finally did that. The elongated diamonds incorporated into stripes felt fresh and helped breathe life into the knits and the lightweight neutral toned styles worked well too. Rather than it just being about the knitwear, the tailoring was equally as strong especially on single breasted summer suits, colour blocked trousers and boxy jackets.
Last season Alistair Carr's debut menswear collection at Pringle of Scotland was met with a mixed response which isn't the best thing when you have just taken the reigns at a big fashion house. For Fall 2012, though, things seemed to take a step in the right direction.
One of the difficulties, if you can call it that, when taking on a brand like Pringle's is figuring out a way to work with the brand's heritage whilst not being overwhelmed by it and that is something that Carr seemed to get to grips with this season. The knits were included in just about every look ranging from uber thin styles to cable versions in hues like camel - which has popped up everywhere - to burnt orange and blue. Like many other designers Carr embraced a lean silhouette which worked well on outerwear and especially on jeans.
Whilst the loyal Pringle customer will appreciate the core basics that appeared throughout, Carr began to show signs of attracting a new younger customer through the introduction of pieces like a pair of bright red leather trousers that added something interesting to to an otherwise safe camel-toned look.
The Burberry man has always been a gentleman so in that respect, it was business as usual for the brand's Fall 2012 menswear collection. All of the codes of a man's wardrobe were there but as you would expect from Christopher Bailey, the brand's signatures were combined with interesting touches that straddled the perfect balance between the old and the new.
The suit served as the fail-safe security piece but was given a modern edge through the slimline cut, which the Brit pack and the emerging Asian market are crazy about. Adding studded clutches, skinny ties and the flash of colour on the hemline of jackets instantly updated what would otherwise have been a collection of well tailored by predictable tailoring. The use of a quilted army flight jackets and cropped puffa jackets styled over gentleman suiting was genius and is exactly what young professional men will want to wear; whether they will be able to pull it off quite as well as the models in the shows is another question.
This week the brand confirmed that they have experienced a 21% increase in sales in their third quarter and this is truly testament to Bailey's ability to stay true to the brand's heritage whilst introducing something new and interesting to the mix.
Compared to womenswear, menswear is quite a small playground to work in but that's what makes it so interesting. Designers are forced to work with tailoring but in new and exciting ways and that's exactly what Thomas Maier achieved at Bottega Veneta this season.
His focal point was firstly all about playing with the surface and this resulted in jackets that came with abstract coloured panels and interesting plastic-like fabrics which really breathed life into the classic suit. Shape was also a key feature of the collection with Maier deliberately cropping jackets and elongating the shoes to create a streamline effect. The pieces fit so closely to the body like a second skin in the way that has become synonymous with rock 'n' roll so I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the big bands sporting them in the months to come.
To say that Kim Jones was under pressure with his latest offerings at Louis Vuitton is quite the understatement. After having shown his S/S12 collection to much critical acclaim, we all looked on this week to see whether he could keep the momentum going. Luckily for us, he embraced the challenge and excelled.
With this collection he continued to prove why he is the perfect candidate for the job. For Fall he paid homage to Vuitton's heritage particularly through his interest in travel. Named 'A Tale of Two Cities', the collection took references from Paris and Tokyo but the latter was the most interesting. Georges Vuitton, son of Louis, was apparently inspired by Japanese floral paintings when designing the Vuitton monogram so Jones' fascination with the country this season made sense.
He changed the classic three piece suit by replacing the waistcoat with a kimono which came styled under the majority of blazers and popped up once on its own in a rich navy. A selection of the evening suits came in silk hand spun in Okujun, just outside of Tokyo, where only 20cm of it are made each day. So, far from embracing today's culture of fast fashion, Jones focused on celebrating Vuitton's reputation of uncompromising luxury.
The collection also tapped into travel, which Vuitton is all about. The brand's classic blanket scarves dominated the end of the collection held with silver arrow pins and the exotic use of kangaro fur on collars and crocodile skin on bomber jackets felt like an adventure in itself.
Minimalism has been the buzz word over the last few seasons but in the S/S12 shows editors, particularly Giovanna Battaglia, expressed their delight at seeing a movement away from the aesthetic in favour of prints and colour. Calvin Klein Collection will always be about modernity and minimalism but what Italo Zucchelli has managed to do so well is to ensure that all of these signatures are there, whilst still moving with the times as Phoebe Philo has also mastered at Celine.
As always the collection was deceivingly simple. The usual camels were there on oversized double breasted coats and tailored trousers. A generous helping of grey flannel appeared on suits in the middle and classic oversized ponchos and cashmere and mohair knitwear also featured throughout. In that respect, it was business as usual but where it got interesting was in Zucchelli's use of fabrics. The use of black alligator skin on trousers, the sleeves of jackets and mixed with cotton on simple long sleeved tops showed that minimalism can paradoxically have a maximalist feeling through the use of luxurious fabrics. The transparent nylon overlay used on a parka was evidence of the designer's ability to rework the classics in a way that is experimental but always very masculine.
The collection had an urban feeling, created by the hooded jackets, parkas and bomber jackets that all came styled with cotton white shirts. Each piece is something that you can imagine men wearing now, a feeling very much in the present compared to the designer's penchant to look to the future.