Procedures borrowed from sartorial techniques: a crystal-crusted suit opened the Celine show. It was composed of a double-breasted blazer — shoulders cut wide, a waistcoat and high-waisted trousers —flared enough the graze the circumference of the Cuban boots. Microcrystals were placed on pinstripes, measuring an equal distance between each other. Hedi Slimane is known for his ability to cut a suit but this proved his own silhouette for the designer who made a legacy of skinny tailoring at Dior Homme in the 2000s. The silhouette dominated the collection — even though Slimane only proposed seven suits in a show of fifty looks— reaching trousers, bombers, and jackets. These are not groundbreaking categories, but Slimane’s emphasis on wearability was re-directed to the hands behind the collection. Jackets were snug and the cuts were studied, one featured strips of leather alternated with suede — they started narrow at the shoulders and got broader closer to the hem. It signaled a couture process of individually measured and cut pieces sown together onto the body. Another variation was embellished with studs placed on vertical stripes running down the chest — the studs hinted to the placement technique of the opening suit. A bomber jacket embroidered with flower of Angel’s Trumpet in gold, orange, and green. It was a collaboration between Slimane and Canadian painter Darby Milbrath. An artwork was conceived by Milbtrath at a botanical conservatory in Toronto, Slimane was given the freedom to use the painting for the collection — it was hand-embroidered onto a jacket. Fifty of them were made, all done by hand. On the runway, it was paired with a t-shirt reading ”My Own Worst Enemy” and jeans.
Historically, craft is linked to ’handicrafts’ — it relates to processes requiring the input of makers’ hands — practices such as weaving, crocheting, cutting and sewing. Design implies a separation from the manufacturing process — it is the step that takes place before production and relates to aesthetics. The discipline of crafting is different from the one of designing.
Armani created the first unstructured jacket in the mid-1970s, liberating it from lining and padding. This season, a creased linen suit was one of the opening looks: it featured a double-breasted waistcoat, fastened with wooden buttons and trousers hemmed at the ankle. Details respecting the nature and informality of the material. Armani continues to pursue tailoring according to Neopolitan standards —where lightweight fabrics dominate — but the final result is never retro. His hands and those of his atelier allow him to capitalize on the resurgence of the look he invented, bringing it forward through design and fit.
Pal Zileri is a brand known for championing tailoring rooted in Italian sartorial tradition — this was embraced by the brand’s creative director Rocco Iannone. A model walked down the runway in a three-piece suit, jacket in hand; his physique outlined by a waistcoat and high-waisted trousers. A shirt featuring a monster motif was worn underneath the waistcoat, it matched the lining of jacket hanging of the model’s arm. When a formula works you repeat it, and find other ways to innovate —the shoes were a hybrid between a gommino and a pool slide, in leather. Craft is a key element at Spanish leather house, Loewe. The brand is known for hybridizing methods of handicrafts to achieve new aesthetics. In his second menswear collection for the brand, Jonathan Anderson designed a denim suit — the jacket hit mid-thigh with wide-cut shoulders and lapels, the trousers were tied at the ankle with denim straps. The suit was overshadowed by a new proposal: a long-sleeved tunic in patchwork suede worn with matching trousers. In the Western world, the tunic is considered an informal garment, but here it was elevated trough cut and cloth, conjuring images of formalwear. A designer that shares the focus on craft is Emily Adams Bode of Bode. The collection was inspired by her family ties to a wagon workshop in Cincinnati that produced creations for the Ringling brothers of the Barnum & Bailey circus. Bode delivered a collection that references her love for traditional garment techniques — including quilting and crocheting. The final offering was a striped suit appearing rigid in construction and fit — here, the practice of handicraft evolved into an aesthetic inclination. In the hands of the talented, things of the past are not lifeless but design is also a matter of taste.
Kim Jones at Dior: it means having to innovate on a legacy built on post-war womenswear — bar jackets and circle skirts. But Jones found the answer: transferring embellishment and techniques from women’s couture to menswear tailoring. Diagonal satin sashes were added to tailored suits for the first time last season, the concept was brought forward for summer. It became a part of the suit — the first look showed it integrated as a lapel, hung past the hem of the jacket, stopping mid-thigh. It highlighted the fluidity of both the jacket and the untucked shirt. Later, it was draped around the body, starting from the jacket’s side seam and finishing at the opposite hip — this one was longer and designed as a train. Working within an established framework, such as for a heritage brand, can be challenging. Jones continued applying methods of couture to menswear. Pleats appearing to move on the garments were one of the new processes — they were applied to bomber jackets and shirts in organza.
The technique involves catching panels of pleated silk crepe onto cork boards and pressing them in place. The pleats were colored by an atelier who specializes in hand-painting and hand-spraying, working with different directions to achieve gradient effects. The movement of the colors was later enhanced at the Dior ateliers where the pleats were mounted onto garments in ways that mimicked waves. Jones also introduced leather bonding — a three-dimensional way of working, giving shape to a garment by layering panels and fabric. It was used to create pockets on the breasts of jackets and coats which Jones described as a ’contemporary embroidery’. The technique begins with the patterns laid out. The base piece is the foundation: buttons, topstitching, and pockets are layered atop and embossed through — the inside remains as a singular body. The finished piece reflects both the design and the craft — the design of the ’contemporary embroidery’ led to a new manufacturing process, leather bonding. Innovation in design is more than bringing an original idea forward, innovation needs to reflect the way design is achieved.