When it comes to menswear, I embrace the less-is-more theory, subscribing to the camp that sticks to the rules. By dressing "classic", a wardrobe needn't date. The Lanvin Men's F/W 2011 Collection, however, promoted such a joie de vivre and playfulness that it inspired me to revaluate my position on the matter.
While the Italians have their sharp, trim lines and the British have their classic fabrics and cuts that can be spotted a mile away, the French have managed to work an insouciance into their tailoring that serves as a reminder that fashion should be fun. Browsing through Lanvin's look book made me reflect upon how sober men's fashion can be and often is. So much of the male wardrobe revolves around a uniform, leaving little room for personalization. There is bespoke tailoring, of course, however, a definite cost is attached it that is not readily accessible. Why shouldn't men be able to express a little flamboyance without having to break the bank?
Lanvin's collection is rife with details that add touches of personal flair to an existing classic wardrobe. The look is a heady mix of styles: the suits and formalwear embrace the timeless elegance of the 1940s, while the casual wear indulges in an urban-industrial theme. Some of the suits are cut with a wide leg and are perhaps more appropriate for taller men with a wider build - but also for those who wish to make a bold statement. For the more cautious classicists, there are slim-cut trouser suits with wonderful double-breasted jackets. Teamed with Lanvin's trilby and claret-coloured Oxfords, the suits exude rakish charm. The Oxfords are presented in a variety of exotic skins and colours, ranging from turquoise to burnt burgundy; the dash of colour against the sombre grey of a suit is striking.
For casual pieces, Lanvin combines bulky jackets with skinny trousers of cotton-silk mix, capping off the outfit with winter boots that would look at home on James Dean's feet. The apparent disregard of teaming formal fabrics with those of the everyday was delightful and left me wishing that I could get away with wearing a red velvet smoking jacket with dove-grey calfskin biker boots.
|(Photograph courtesy of Lanvin).|
The collection's accessories are equally compelling. Ties are patched together with contrasting materials such as plain wools and striped silks in unique combinations of colours and patterns. Technically, the hats are somewhere between a trilby and fedora (given that the brim is wider than a traditional trilby) and despite the obvious retro-statement that the headwear evokes, the results are powerfully modern.
The collection's beauty lies in the way that wardrobe staples are transformed beyond classic and into unchartered territory. Ties, gloves and scarves play a vital role in adding texture to a man's outfit much in the same way that women use their accessories. Gentlemen watch out: Lanvin's accessories come in the form of exquisitely crafted python leather document holders, so they might be borrowed by more than one lady should they be left lying around for too long.
The collection is a sartorial representation of the French attitude: careless, carefree, carefully different. These are the kinds of pieces that lend an imperceptible turn of the head, a glance of the eye and hold the attention of other discerning gentleman, wondering whether they can pull off the Lanvin matte blue/grey vegetable-tanned calfskin loafers you just bought yourself. The answer, in case you were wondering is, no, they can't.
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