Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mens Fashion Trend: Relaxed Men's Tailoring

Time and time again while covering the men’s components of Milan and Paris fashion weeks we touched on it: that dominant, relaxed aesthetic that men who are tired of the crotch hugging, thigh squishing feel of the overt skinny cut have to look forwards to amongst autumn / fall 2011 fashions. And beyond. Men’s fashion simply doesn’t move so fast that one can peg these forthcoming emergence of relaxed tailoring to a sole season, nor even a year, and while we already know we’ll see it amongst spring 2012's fashions  it’s highly likely that we’ll also see this interpretation of men’s fashion feature amongst throughout all of 2012.

A relaxed fit for men is, of course, nothing new. Loose layering, drop crotches and (avert your gaze) baggy jeans have been with us for some time now. But a line has to be drawn in the sand. The relaxed cuts of past years are distinctly different from the relaxed tailoring we’re about the encounter. One could rightly argue that this new men’s trends evolves from the old, but they are certainly not one in the same.

So what are elements of this men’s trend? And is it the style for 2011 and 2012, or simply a style? Read on to find all the details after the break.

You’ll note that in the introduction I referred constantly to relaxed tailoring, and it’s the latter word that really distinguishes this re-emerging men’s style from the relaxed / loose styles that have preceded it. They were, in effect, street wear. The forthcoming relaxed and loose tailoring trend certainly isn’t street wear in the baggy denim sense, but it also isn’t formal wear. In fact, it contrasts sharply with what is currently accepted as the fashionable men's suit.  And yet it remains tailoring. Tailoring with a soft touch. Tailoring with a flare. Tailoring with an injection of fashion. Tailoring that, if not casual, is at least pared down.

But if casual tailoring is the style, then what is that style applied to? In short, both full pieces and individual elements. Pieces and elements such as the following:

Seamless shoulders

No element of the relaxed tailoring style is more dominant then the seamless shoulder in 2011 / 2012. Nor should one be. As far as tailoring goes, the seamless shoulder can make a statement or blend in. More to its favour however, it’s the easiest element of the relaxed tailoring look to wear and get right.

A seamless shoulder coat from Raf Simons. Note that the elbow seam is an extreme version of the deep shoulder seam discussed below.

If the name isn’t obvious enough; the seamless shoulder lacks a stitch line at the point where the shoulder rolls to become the arm. As such, it’s not too dissimilar in its crafting from a kimono sleeve, where the sleeve and the body of the clothing are one in the same, though this men’s interpretation is far more tapered.

In part it’s a look heralded in by the return of the sack suit and we spied it in collections from the likes of Raf Simons and Duckie Brown. Some, most notably Duckie Brown, gave the look a heavily casual slant and you can safely wear the seamless shoulder with relaxed fit sports coats and crisp cut sweaters. Where the tailored, seamless shoulder really comes into its own, however, is when it’s fused with outerwear.

As outerwear

Given that the best part of a men’s winter wardrobe is often its outerwear, it should come as no surprise to find that the tailored, seamless shoulder extends to more than just men’s sports coats. In fact, if the weighting of catwalk collections is anything to go by it’s going to be easier to invest in a statement piece where the seamless shoulder has been interpreted into the likes of duffle coats and trench coats.

Burberry Prorsum have been one fashion house to make use of the seamless shoulder in their men’s autumn / winter 2011 collection, featuring relaxed tailoring several times over. Most dominantly they did so in the form of an exaggerated blanket-check caban (pictured at the top of this article). With its single breasted and oversized cut paired with its winter tonality, this coat from Burberry Prorsum nails all the loose and easy appeal of this men’s fashion trend and easily lends itself to the style of 1960s fashion we expect to see return in coming fashion seasons.

Another example of a seamless shoulder, relaxed fit coat: Burberry Prorsum men’s caban. A relaxed fit coat from Burberry Prorsum’s autumn 2011 collection also opens this article.

Deep shoulder seam

While the seamless shoulder is one of the hallmarks of the relaxed men’s tailoring trend, the deep shoulder seam / dropped shoulder works equally as well. Sitting somewhere between the sack shoulder and a seamless shoulder, the deep shoulder seam features a stitch line that sits off of the shoulder, with the overall appearance given that the jacket or coat’s shoulder is oversized. Sometimes the effect is subtle, as is the case with the double breasted Ermanno Scervino overcoat below left, at other times the seam sits much closer to the bicep, as is the case with the half sleeved sweater / jumper from Raf Simons below right. The Raf Simons coat pictured above uses the deep shoulder seam to best effect, however.

Ermanno Scervino double breasted coat with dropped shoulder.
Raf Simons half-sleeve sweater with deep shoulder seam.

Loose pants

If relaxed and oversized shoulders are the hallmark of the emerging relaxed tailoring trend, then loose cut trousers / pants follow a close second. At the outset they may feel like an easy way to interpret the trend, but don’t be deceived: they’re the element that is easiest to get wrong.

For this part of the look what you’re looking for are those relaxed, oversized and generally loose interpretations of men’s trousers which are tailored. After all, this trend may lack formality but it certainly isn’t so casual that it is streetwear. Tailoring is key to the whole look.

In short, the elements you’re looking for in loose cut pants throughout 2011 and 2012 are:

loosely tailored through the thighs
loosely tailored through the crotch

With those elements in mind, here are some on-trend interpretations of relaxed cut trousers from the autumn / winter 2011 men’s catwalks:

Dolce & Gabbana velvet suit with relaxed tailored pants and a trim jacket.

Dolce & Gabbana tailored, drop crotch pants    

Ermanno Scervino loose cut trousers paired with a box cut double breasted coat.

Ermanno Scervino loose cut trousers paired with a box cut double breasted coat.

The return of pleated pants

Given that the tail end 2011 and the start of 2012 will see an experimentation with the fit of men’s pants, it naturally follows that other elements will also be experimented with. As we’ve seen with womenswear, we’re also watching for the return of pleated pants for men.

So far we haven’t seen one specific pleat return and across the recent men’s catwalks we’ve seen both forward pleats (when the pleat opens towards the centre of the pants) and reverse pleats (when the pleats open towards the pockets). Vivienne Westwood experimented with both fits in her autumn 2011 collection, pairing pleats with a casually tailored waist line as a counterbalance.

Men’s pleated pants from Vivienne Westwood.

Loose  cut  jackets

The seamless shoulders are but one element affecting outerwear that can be worn inline with the overall relaxed tailoring trend. Loose cut, voluminous men’s jackets are the other. And this is another of the elements that can be hit and miss and hard to pull off with finesse. Not in the sense that it’s hard to put on a jacket that seems a few sizes too big, but rather that it can be harder to don one with any confidence. As you can see below, these cuts are certainly don’t lend themselves to what we typically regard as a modern, men’s cut. They’re a statement. So if you’ve got the confidence to wear such a statement, here are three ways men can wear volume through their torso in autumn / winter 2011.

At the more conservative end of the spectrum and certainly inspired by men’s 1960s fashion, a single breasted jacket appears to fit a few sizes too big. While volume through the torso and seamless shoulders feature, the shoulders are tailored in such a way that the jacket still appears to fit thus making the statement clearer (though it’ll never be clear to everyone, such is fashion).

Highlighting the overall aesthetic, the suit’s trousers and worn slim.

Peaked lapel jacket from Raf Simons

Another look from Raf Simons, this particular jacket is tailored to have volume through the sleeves only. The torso is slim cut and the waist cinched in just as a modern mens suit should be (the lower of the two buttons shouldn’t be done up, however).

Of the three dominant interpretations of the loose cut, voluminous men’s jacket, this is the sharpest.

Jacket by Raf Simons

With a block cut through the torso and paired with lose cut trousers, this jacket from Ermanno Scervino is admittedly outerwear. But it serves as the perfect example of how the double breasted suit can be tailored to sit with this overall trend. In short, avoid the modern double breasted suit’s cut that slims in at the waist, instead opt for a straight down cut and pair it with loose cut, but not baggy, trousers.

Jacket by Raf Simons

Is it the trend?

As we did when bell bottoms and flares made a return to the mainstream, it’s only natural to ask if the relaxed fit of tailoring that’s coming to menswear is a trend or the trend. Or put another way: does this mean that a skinny or slim cut is out?

The answer is simply no.

Relaxed tailoring is going to become another option for men, one that fits in nicely with other trends such as the revival of 1920's fashion and one that gives men a broader selection of ‘fashionable’ choices. But at no stage of the near future is it going to become the dominant style nor replace the slim cut altogether.

Related trends

As with so much of the year’s trends, the emerging relaxed tailoring trend is part of a wider vibe: loose is in. But while we see the return of flares for men in 2011 it’s worth noting that the two trends aren’t one in the same, and it’s best to avoid fusing the two. Flares are distinctly a casual trend likely to end up a one or two season wonder. The year’s looser tailoring trend simply isn’t in the same category.

Womens Fashion Trend: How the High Waisted Skirt Makes you Look Great

This spring, the easiest way to tap into the retro movement is by introducing a high-waist skirt to your wardrobe. It can be a formal piece with strict lining and mobility or one imitating the playful silhouette of the '50's. This trend has taken a plunge into the nostalgic ocean of the 1950s, while staying true and proud to the modern aesthetic of 2012 fashion trends.

The Gatsby buzz in the fashion industry brought with it an inundated basket of variations in the 1920s fashion, one of them being the drop waist. However, the high-waist skirts for spring 2012 create a notable contrast against the drop waist, giving you all the more reason to embrace the trend. The high-waist skirt has a decorous appeal to it, with its stiff silhouette and versatile fabrics. This piece of clothing will prove to be the most amending and adaptable piece of clothing in your wardrobe, this season, and you need to keep reading after the jump to understand why.

How the high-waisted skirt makes you look great

“Why sweat at the gym when your waist can be defined, sculpted and shaped with a single piece of clothing?” an argument only a fashion girl would raise… And truly so, this spring trend is all about outright vanity; if you have it, you better flaunt it.

Acquiring an hourglass silhouette by the means of clothes seems to be a hit amongst women, much credited to the Marilyn Monroe phenomenon, and there are very few items of clothing that can help you achieve that. Women in the fifties used the high waist skirt to parade their voluptuous assets, and women today are aiming to do the same.

High waisted full skirt at Nina Ricci, S/S ’12

A high-waist skirt wraps your body in its province like a cocoon; whether it’s an A line skirt or a straight-cut tailored pencil skirt. The concentration is diverted back to the waistline with ribbed fabric, elastic band or a belt-like appearance. In an instant, your legs appear longer, your waist looks tinnier and your posture gets a boost. What more could you ask for?
Complimentary trends

The high-waist skirt is not an independent fellow; he requires more support from his colleagues than you can imagine. As this is an outfit-focused trend, you can’t talk about it without mentioning the other key players in the game. We take a look at some of other spring 2012 trends which can be paired with the high-waist skirt, as seen on the runway.

High-waist skirt x 1950s revival

Miuccia Prada’s spring collection put the high-waist skirt under a rockabilly light. The entire runway show titled towards the 1950s, down to the hairstyle and makeup, but the deal-breaker were the skirts in the show. This Prada girl aptly epitomised ladylike elegance whether it was the A-line high-waist pleat skirts or sheath-like version. 

High waisted pleat skirt at Prada, S/S ’12

Sticking to a monochromatic colour palette, the pieces in Elie Saab’s spring / summer collection didn’t quite hum the ‘50s-revival lullaby, but they rocked to the tunes of hyper femininity. Despite the waistline remaining high and cinched-in for most pieces, skinny belts were used to outline the mid-section even further.

High waisted pencil skirt at Elie Saab, S/S ’12

High-waist skirt x Crop top

Mark our words: this combination is going to create a sensation amongst street style leaders and your personal wardrobe, this spring. The crop top / tube top demands diligent diet disciplines, but if you team it with a high-waist skirt, you might be able to forgo the lower abdominal crunches, for now anyway.

Once again, this incredibly sensual and flirtatious combination was seen on the Prada runway. The elastic band around the waist augmented the structure of the vertical silhouette. If retro-bombshell is what you’re after for this season, follow the protocol of Prada’ spring / summer 2012. It is glam at the best of its abilities.

High waisted straight-cut skirt at Prada, S/S ’12

Having lingerie on the mind, Nina Ricci’s spring collection also followed the high-waist skirt and crop top memo, but with an alluringly sensuous twist. Designer Peter Copping used visible bra tops as the chief component of the outfit, and styled them against the demure likings of a high-waist skirt. While the skirts concealed all sightings of a knee, the body-hugging lace and velvet fabric oozed all kinds of glam.

High waisted straight-cut skirt at Prada, S/S ’12

High-waist skirt x Androgyny

It’s highly ironical to mention skirts when talking about the androgeny trend for spring 2012, but Carven’s spring / summer 2012 collection helps us illustrate our point. This look has the key elements of androgyny – the oversized blazer and the detachable collar – but it’s the blown-up leather skirt that seals the deal with a strong stamp of femininity. This looks isn’t about defining the waist or enhancing the woman’s assets, which makes it even more fitting to the rules of androgyny.

The hindsight here is the replacement of pants with a high-waist skirt for this branch of androgyny.

High waisted leather skirt at Carven, S/S ’12

Thakoon’s multicultural androgyny also hits bull’s eye with the flouncy printed silk skirt suit and fedora hat. The silhouette is still as girly as ever, especially with peplum in sight, but the lapels, collared shirt and cuff links steer the wheel away.

Full skirt and blazer at Thakoon, S/S ’12

High-waisted skirt: how to wear it?

With so many alterations to the trend, adapting it to your spring / summer wardrobe might prove to be more challenging than usual. This trend has more to it than a clear-cut direction to shop straight out of a collection catalogue. The high-waist skirt is about how to style pieces together and work with your individual body types.

Here are some of our tips on how to pick the best version for you.

To start with, pick another trend from the spring 2012 trend books that you’d like to style the high-waist skirt with. It can be summer layering, androgyny, sports couture or metallic (see Balmain SS12 for inspiration). A high-waist skirt doesn’t give solo performances; it needs assistance and this where you’d ideally start.

High waisted mini skirt at Balmain, S/S ’12

The length of the skirt is varied this season. It depends on the occasion you’re styling the look for. For a high tea or brunch affair, go for one centimeter above or just brushing the top of the knee; specifically if it’s a poodle chiffon skirt. Go bold and mini-length for a night out in town. There’s also an array of options before you when picking the shape of the high-waist skirt – sharp and tailored or voluminous and girly.

Unlike its earlier revival, you don’t have to tuck-in the blouse or top. This spring, leave the top out and belt it over the skirt for extra precision. Don’t be afraid to wear a blazer over a singlet and high-waist skirt – this trend renewal has broken all the previously established rules.

Pair cleverly; don’t mix sheer layering with a mini-skirt, for instance. Categorise the trends you prefer for the season and work with them.

If skirts aren’t your thing then go for high-waist tailored shorts. An example of this is seen on the Carven spring 2012 runway. If going for high-waist shorts, keep the length short (mid-thigh and well-fitted), otherwise it’ll look a confused version of shorts and pants.

Don’t be afraid to mix pattern on pattern or bold colours together. It’s a trend that deserves a whole lot of fun styling.

You can accessorise with a belt over the skirt and cinch the waist even more so.

The Most Beautiful Woman in Britain

From the ancient Greeks to Leonardo da Vinci, artists have long admired Mother Earth's beautiful natural symmetry. If these any of these talents were alive today, they'd beg for the chance to immortalize Florence Colgate's perfect face. 

The 18-year-old British student recently won a competition to find Britain's most naturally beautiful face. The national beauty contest was sponsored by Lorraine Cosmetics. 

Florence Colgate: The most beautiful woman in Britain

The win was determined by a poll, so some may contest the verdict. But science backs up Colgate's victory. 

According to scientists, Colgate's flawless proportions can be attributed to the optimum ratio between the eyes, chin, mouth and forehead. 

A woman's face is said to be most attractive when the space between her pupils is just under half the width of her face from ear to ear. Colgate scored a 44 per cent ratio in department. 

Experts also believe that the distance between the eyes and mouth should be just over a third of the measurement from hairline to chin. Colgate's ratio was 32.8 per cent. 

Singer Shania Twain and actresses Liz Hurley and Jessica Alba have ranked among the world's most perfectly formed stars thanks to of the symmetrical proportions of their faces. 

Thanks to nature and good genes, the blonde, blue-eyed teen from Deal, Kent has left these beauties in the dust. 

Eight thousand entrants vied for the chance to win this U.K. competition. 

The competition, called "Lorraine: Naked" judged contestants without makeup. Entrants were also barred entry if they had undergone chemical procedures or plastic surgery. 

Colgate did admit to using light foundation, mascara, concealer and Vaseline before the contest. But the teen with a weekend job in a chip shop bared it all to win a trip to a London modelling agency. 

Colgate's stunning, symmetrical face will also appear on billboards and posters in Superdrug stores across England. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

'Gratuitious' American Apparel Ads Banned

The advertising  watchdog has banned an ad campaign by American Apparel featuring semi-naked young women, after investigating a complaint that it is "pornographic and exploitative".

American Apparel ran a series of eight ads on its website, and one in Crack, a free lifestyle magazine available from shops, featuring women in various states of undress, some topless.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received a complaint that the images were "offensive … pornographic, exploitative of women and inappropriately sexualised young women".

American Apparel, which ran into a similar issue over its exploitive ad campaigns back in 2009, rejected the accusations, arguing that the images featured "real, non-airbrushed, everyday people" who were mainly not professional models.

The retailer, which argued that the young women were "clearly in their 20s", said that it believed the images were the type that "people regularly share with their ffriends on social networks and which normal people could relate to".

Nevertheless, American Apparel tried to argue the images fell outside of the remit of the ASA because they were "heritage advertising", and not actually part of a current campaign.

The ASA said that the nudity was "gratuitous" because most of the clothes modelled were not lingerie, and yet the shots of breasts and buttocks were the "focal points of the images rather than the products".

The ASA also said that in the ads featured there was a "voyeuristic and amateurish quality to the images which served to heighten the impression that the ads were exploitative of women and inappropriately sexualised young women".

The ASA said that the ads had not been prepared with a "sense of responsibility to consumers and to society" and banned all but one.

"We told American Apparel not to use similar images which were exploitative of women or that inappropriately sexualised young women in future," said the ASA.