Why is it, more often than not, we find ourselves reminiscing over the past? Reflecting, referencing, reinterpreting what was? It’s got quite the hold on us. To be moving forward but always looking back. Instead of imagining what could be, what has yet to become, we dream in nostalgia. Our innocence, nativity and ignorance. When life once felt delicate, but yet exposed. I find this to be quite prevalent in this Fall/Winter 2023 Menswear season. There’s a sense of rediscovery, but yet we find ourselves back where we began. The place where familiarity and evolution meet.
The undressed took center stage as they found comfort clutching sentimental objects. Styling has always been a key component to delivering the visual narrative of a designer's collection. This season, Jonathan Anderson allowed the garments to speak for themselves, with their accompanied accessories to fill in the blanks. One by one, models walked out with literally one item of clothing on to cover their body. Orange underwear covered with bunnies. A white oversized t-shirt and froggy slippers. A brown ruffle skirt with a pillow in hand. This presentation could easily be perceived as an unfinished or even a youthful approach to menswear. I believe JW Anderson’s most recent collections continue to share a story about our attachments: the many things we hold close to us. From infant to adult, we tend to associate ourselves, our memories and our development to a token object or symbol. (Which can also be seen in Martine Rose’s collection featuring a “drunk bunny”, illustrating the hope we had during the COVID lockdowns. And the blue and purple bunnies depicted in Nahmias’ collection, in remembrance of Doni Nahmias’ childhood.) As minimal and bare as the JW Anderson collection might be I think it highlights the direction fashion is headed: an exploration of the impact of our materialistic attachments and the transition towards vulnerability. Finding comfort in our exposure, with no place nor thing to hide behind.
These two notes were also found in Lisi Herrebrugh and Rushemy Botter’s collection. Bicycle seats were repurposed into bags and miniature race cars danced across the necks and dazzled the fingers of the models. Some garments exposed the layers that hid underneath flaps and buttons, while others brought undergarments to the surface.
Overtime we obtain these valuables. Which tend to have a unique story of their own, but they also carry our story, our secrets, and our past. These tangible objects, articles of clothing, can communicate a lot about who we are. And I think it’s quite interesting how we desire to keep them close, collected and displayed. But at the same time we feel the need to pull back. It’s as if we can’t decide if we want more or less. If we want to share more or less of ourselves, the things that we have, or the body that hides behind all that we carry.
This theme of pulling back, shedding our layers, or more so, revealing our layers was beautifully presented by Namacheko. Dilan Lurr opened the show very heavy: overcoats with silver embellishments, a combination of knits: zipped, twisted and buttoned, detachable collared shirts, and pleated skirts. As the collection continued on, the models wore less and less clothing. Closing the show with a model dressed in a tightly fitted ombré turtleneck and legging set. Whether for play, comfort, or mobility, our relationship with clothing is getting quite vulnerable. Leaving us to be as we begin on this Earth, exposed.
On a day to day basis, we tend to overlook just how quickly we’re evolving. I believe these bi-yearly presentations communicate what we value, how we view ourselves and where we’d like to be. Whether that’s in the past, present or the future. I think these designers and the fashion industry as a whole bring attention to who we really are at this moment in time. The garments just allow us to express our comfort in exposing all that we are.
Text by Ciana Mai