The A/W14 menswear shows have sent us on a nostalgic journey back to the 90s, when power suits headlined and sexiness was paramount.
Take Calvin Klein. It is clear that there has been something of a renaissance for a brand that was once viewed either as a denim stalwart, or the default Christmas present for any teenage boy. Under the guidance of creative director Italo Zucchelli since 2002 – although Klein himself continues to have final sign off on Collection – in certain territories, the menswear line is both a seasonal staple and the modernist ‘suit’ of choice. Now, as the global menswear market refocuses on trend defining sophistication, slick design and innovation imply that the Calvin Klein brand has the potential to return to the forefront of men’s fashion.
"The A/W14 menswear shows have sent us on a nostalgic journey back to the 90s, when power suits headlined and sexiness was paramount"
Kate Moss’ 40th birthday took place last week, igniting a flush of nostalgia across social media outlets, much of which featured the youthful Moss cavorting with Marky Mark in the infamous 90s CK ads. And, in a similarly retrospective spirit, the A/W14 runway show was a billowing of typical Collection colour-blocking in true Klein style. The inscribed sweatshirt – though not a new invention – added subtle sportiness to the classicism and forging a truly modern sartorial blend. Using the names of 3 iconic CK fragrances – ESCAPE, OBSESSION, ETERNITY – was a clever move. Getting a pair of boxers or fragrance in the 90s was a way of owning a bit of designer gear at a fraction of the cost, and a sweatshirt is a modern version of these easy access points.
A flurry of revitilisation is also taking place at Giorgio Armani, another member of the 90s power set who previously showered the runway with two and three-piece magnificence. For hints of their A/W14 inspiration, look no further than Oscar-nominated film Wolf of Wall Street, whose hedonistic fat cats wear suits created by Mr. Armani himself. “Armani revolutionised male fashion design,” states director Martin Scorcese. “He gave us a new idea of elegance that was, and still is, a perfect fit with the times.”
"Armani gave us a new idea of elegance that was, and still is, a perfect fit with the times" – Martin Scorcese
Can hope be reignited for those who remember Armani’s 90s heyday, when the label tailored the best suits to be found off-the-peg? This accolade was lost in the face of falling quality and licensing agreements, but hope has been reignited with the recent appointment of Acne Paper founder Thomas Persson as art director, and time will tell if archive rummaging plays a role in Armani’s comeback. The likes of Jil Sander, Berluti and Ports 1961 have all steered elegant routes back to the limelight through inspired reappropriation of their iconic shapes; proof that, done well, it is certainly an equation that works.
A/W14’s suit may have shied away from the 90s clichés of sturdy shoulder pads, double breasts and a baggy silhouette, favouring instead the clean and streamlined; however, this past month of runway presentations was a surefooted demonstration of tailoring and re-positioning. With these tantilising hints towards the return of the 90s sophisticate, we sit, fingers crossed, hoping for more.
Text by Andrew Blyszak