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New York Fashion Week: Men's - the evolution of formal wear

By Kristopher Fraser


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New York - On day 2 of New York Fashion Week: Men's, designers displayed how traditional men's formal offerings have evolved.

First off, Mr. Joseph Abboud opened up the morning shows, and he brought Milan and Paris level patterns and detailing to his exquisite suiting pieces. There were floral patterned suits reminiscent of Alexander McQueen, effortlessly tailored blazers, and well-fitted trousers in the predominantly neutral colors of grey and brown.

Abboud also showed us that men have way more for them going now in the realm of formal wear versus just a black suit, white shirt, and black tie. Creative design is now at the forefront of men's fashion offerings, and suiting has transformed to emphasize a designer's creative eye. This show marked the brand's first return to the runway in 15 years, so he had to make sure it to pull out all of the stops.

As the opening show for the second morning of New York Fashion Week: Men’s, he really set the bar for the day, but there was certainly competition to be had.

American Horror Story

John Varvatos’s presentation in the evening displayed his taste for the darker more gothic inspired side of fashion, and seemed like something straight out of American Horror Story. There were dummies with the heads of animals like horses and rabbits on them, all while adorned with the designer’s patterned suiting, signature leather jackets, leather pants, and even a floor length cardigan sweater.

One of the signature looks of the night was a burgundy suit with svelte black lapels that dared men to not be afraid of color in their formal offerings. While the collection put a lot of focus on the dark and gothic, even Varvatos sees that in men's fashion and formal offerings today, there has to be room for a bit of color.

At first, it seemed a bit too dark for John Varvatos, whose theme for the show was #RockIsDead and #LongLiveRock Going for darker, edgier, more gothic side of fashion did him justice though.

Zachary Prell, John Varvatos, and Joseph Abboud show how formal wear has evolved

This season, Zachary Prell was in the realm of brands who were trying to fuse comfortable trends with more formal offerings. Knit sweaters and simple button-ups were very prominent in the collection this season. While many other designers were going for very fitting silhouettes this season, he had a more relaxed look to his that would be very fitting for the younger gentleman. Think about the type of man who would've picked up a now defunct copy of Details, because that is definitely the guy for this collection.

The younger stylish gentleman of today doesn't necessarily want the most fitted silhouette for his trousers, and a bit of breathing room is necessary for that type of customer. If that's your style, Zachary Prell is your guy.

The brand, which added former Hugo Boss executive Chuck Lucia to their team last year, is continuing to elevate their offerings and position themselves as a lifestyle brand.

The designer of the day who was in need of some serious polishing however was Brett Johnson. While the looks in his presentation did look very wearable, there was almost no cohesiveness. One second you would be looking at trousers with a fedora hat, the next you'd be looking at a red suit that looked like it was on Pharrell's potential looks for the Grammy's.

While the designer was clearly trying to think about the younger hip customer, the type of customer that is buying Pharrell's music on I-tunes, the looks seemed to distant from each other, and lacked anything really unique to help them stand out. If Johnson is going to really make a name for himself as a designer, he will first have to figure out what he is going to design that won't look like like 50 percent of what's in mid-level department stores like Macy's when he is retailing at high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus.

The award for originality for the day would have to go to General Idea. Designer Bamsuk Choi is a master of small details with elements like zipper detailing on sweaters, eccentric embellishments on sweaters, and leather moto jackets reminding us that minimalism doesn't have to mean boring. Choi is one of the several designers this season bringing more Asian street style influence to the American market.

As New York Fashion Week Men's rolls along, we'll see how else men's wear has evolved this season.

Photos: via Fashion GPS, Vogue and John Varvatos Facebook

Brett Johnson
General Idea
John Varvatos
Joseph Abboud
Zachary Prell