New York Fashion Week's F/W 2019 officially began earlier this week. Although typically broken into two shorter weeks – NYFW and NYFW men’s – this time around they have been somewhat combined, leaving menswear and womenswear shows overlapping. Interestingly, beyond the potential confusion caused by the schedule, this overlap has been mirrored by some of the most interesting shows, where little if any distinction is being made between looks for women and men, and the clothing doesn't fit into one category. In the past, this was somewhat prevalent during the women's schedule, but now a similar phenomenon has been taking place on the menswear side of the calendar, with labels like Palomo Spain, Bode, and Vasilis Loizides leading the way in completely blurring those gender lines.
Tom Ford Fall/Winter 2019 show in New York. Photo by Elizabeth Pantaleo for NOWFASHION.
Then, following several seasons (in New York at least) where many collections showcased looks that were predominantly shiny, loud, and over-the-top exuberant, this week – by way of designers like Todd Snyder and even Tom Ford, the master of full-tilt glamour himself – marked a return to classic, understated, and more subdued looks. For the most part, for the time being, gone are those blinding fluorescent colors, excessive displays of glamour, and overly crystal studded looks; and in are pieces allowing men (or women) to feel elegant and comfortable but without necessarily making a statement.
All in all, there was a lot to go through and much to look at during menswear, so we selected some of this week's most important moments and picked some of the shows that have defined the season.
Emerging designer Vasilis Loizides, a Parson's graduate, was among the first to show as New York Fashion Week menswear's kicked off. Up until now, Loizides has been showcasing his collections during the menswear portion of the calendar, but his looks, often conceptual, have recurrently felt gender-fluid and not prone to stereotypes. Loizides designs pieces for everyone and, as in previous seasons, the diverse casting included both genders.
Vasilis Loizides Fall/Winter 2019 presentation in New York. Photos by Elizabeth Pantaleo for NOWFASHION.
Using a presentation format, this was his fourth collection to date and was inspired by Loizides’ home country, Cyprus. More specifically, the collection's theme was the circus, which, according to the designer, were quite common where he grew up and something he enjoyed doing as a kid. Using it as a metaphor, the collection played on the relationship between the performers and the audience, and addressed the meaning of their respective roles (possibly building an even broader statement on our roles and function in society or the fashion industry).
This translated into colorful eclectic pieces and direct references to the theme by way of prints (camels and elephants), fabrics, and even certain accessories, like the flower earrings that could be spotted on a few of the models or the golden medallions embedded in their braids. A standout piece was a black silk jacket and pant combo embellished top to bottom with beautiful peacock feathers.
Founded in early 2018 by Seoul-born designer Kee Kim, the New York based menswear KEENKEE showed at NYFW for the first time this week. Kim, who recently quit his job as a graphic designer to dive into the busy world of fashion, might be a newcomer to most, but his brand is already carried at Ssense and Opening Ceremony. If anything already defines his design, it's an affinity for tweaked functions, eye grabbing details, and unorthodox proportions.
KEENKEE Fall/Winter 2019 presentation in New York. Photos by Elizabeth Pantaleo for NOWFASHION.
Keeping that in mind, the collection he presented at Pier 59 Studios offered a unique pairing of treatments and textures, brought together by a limited and muted but masterfully exploited color palette. All in all, KEENKEE's F/W collection focused on an original take on menswear norms (bringing Kim's background in graphic design to the forefront), experimenting with shapes, cuts, and silhouettes. From double-padded suit jackets to body panels that doubled as pockets, and raw denim jump suits cut into a shirt to open-collared blazers, Kim's unexpected and noteworthy collection certainly made an impression and sets him apart from the melee of emerging designers.
For his Fall 2019 collection, one of his strongest to date, Todd Snyder took a more personal approach, offering an updated interpretation of the 70s and what felt like a rendition of Midwestern Americana. This mood was immediately conveyed by the setting as attendees walked into what might have been a suburban basement – think green shaggy carpet, fluorescent lights, and wood paneling. If at that point anyone had not picked up on the 70s tone yet, the opening look, a chocolate brown corduroy parka over a black-and-white checkerboard sweater with high-waisted pants, certainly drove it home.
Todd Snyder Fall/Winter 2019 show in New York. Photo by Elizabeth Pantaleo for NOWFASHION.
Interjected by Snyder's use of a vivid purples, oranges, and jewel greens, other nods to the era included wood-paneling-color grandpa cardigans, a cognac-colored leather topcoat, a large assortment of cozy and shaggy sweaters, Western shorts in pale colors, striped grungy sweaters, and, of course, an Iowa State hoodie (where the designer was born and raised).
Using music as conduit, 28-year-old New York based designer Emily Bode created a continuum for the dreamy, pastoral, and quaint-like aesthetic she had introduced during her S/S 2019 presentation. Interesting to note that the Parsons graduate – shortly after launching her menswear line, and while working for Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, and Isabel Marant – was the first woman to show at Men's New York Fashion Week.
Bode Fall/Winter 2019. Photos: Courtesy of Bode.
Although, for the look-book, the Bode collection was eventually situated inside Green River's Project workshop, a longtime partner, the looks – inspired by the teenage years of gallerist and art historian Todd Alden – were first showcased this week by way of a musical presentation in a makeshift rehearsal space in Soho. A band of boys (called In India) playing rock tunes, naked bulbs hanging from the ceiling, memorabilia on the walls, and vinyl records scattered on the floor all resulted in an interestingly immersive experience.
Alongside a hand-illustrated chore jacket and a shawl collar fleece jacket, standouts included a bright color-blocked soft shirt and pant set and a loosely-woven cardigan. There was also an incredibly detailed and well-crafted work-wear jacket printed with baseball cards and a transparent PVC raincoat embedded with milk bottle caps and pennies, which celebrated the spirit of being a collector, an important part of how Bode researches her design and sources materials for it.
Tom Ford, whose illustrious career as a designer spans over three decades and several iconic fashion houses, brought it back to basics this week. Straying away from last year's rather loud and shiny collection which included a crystal studded Tom Ford sweatshirt, for this season the designer returned to what he does best – tailoring – and stuck to textures, silhouettes, and rich colors that at this point in time, years after his exploits at Gucci, have proven their timelessness. This was particularly obvious in the more modern interpretation of a look that contributed to Tom Ford's iconic status: his sexy and androgynous suits.
Tom Ford Fall/Winter 2019 show in New York. Photos by Elizabeth Pantaleo for NOWFASHION.
With a color palette that ranged from pastels to jewel tones and deep black and white, the collection was rich in forever looks, defined by those immediately recognizable Tom Ford classic turned up collars and strong shoulders. The women’s suits, for instance, were noteworthy for their luscious and vivid colors – reds, pinks, purples, and burgundies – with silhouette nods to Ford’s own 1996 Gucci collection or to other greats, like Yves Saint Laurent. Various other looks made for a memorable show, including satin pleated trousers, bomber jackets, silk blouses (stylishly worn wide open), blazers and tuxedo jackets in a variety of materials, and even elegant evening gowns.
And if today’s designers’ constant dilemma is the push and pull of what’s expected and what’s desired, what’s classic and what comes next, Tom Ford seems to have chosen nostalgia this time around but not without adding a few modern touches to draw in a new generation. This is best illustrated by Ford’s choice of replacing button-downs with hoodie sweatshirts (the easiest maneuver it seems to lure in a younger audience and ground the look into the present), which he styled with blazers, faux-furs, pencil skirts, and even a satin trench coat.