It is Fashion Week—for men. It is Fashion Week for clowns.
I usually do not write about Fashion Week, for the same reason that sports reporters do not write about the latest advances in nuclear technology. It's not my thing. Everyone can have their own thing, and not all things need to be the same. Frogs don't talk about what lizards are doing. Cows don't concern themselves with coyotes. It is often best to leave those things that bother and mystify us alone, enigmas to be addressed by those more willing to dedicate their lives to cultural codebreaking.
But the most exciting moments came from designers who embraced that fundamental tension, creating vivid solutions in the process. Nowhere was that more evident than in the broad push toward exaggerated silhouettes, but without straying into comic excess.
In the case of Billy Reid's vibrant show, this meant lush patterned blanket coats, and actual blankets, that effectively doubled the width of the wearer. He closed with a long plaid wool coat in muted tones that was pure sex, a 1975 Playgirl spread come to life. Steely cool Public School had its capes and restrained scarves folded into triangles and worn over the head, underneath hats, flapping in the wind as the models pounded the runway, looking like downtown superheroes.
Embrace the Struggle. Create a vivid solution. Steely cool pure sex superheroes.
Let me tell you something: "fashion" is for clowns. I am not a woman, and I am not a fashionista, or even a "presentable" person, but I am a man, and so I will now exercise that lone qualification in order to state for the record that "men's fashion," as it exists in the universe of Fashion Week, is for clowns. It is designed, worn, viewed, sold, and commented upon exclusively by men who—if they were not a part of the fashion world—would be most appropriately employed entertaining children at birthday parties and luring angry bulls away from rodeo riders. I know that is considered declassé to say this. I know that silence on men's fashion is often mistaken for sophistication, when in fact it is more akin to silence in the face of atrocity. I know that being affronted by the activities of the glittery runway is considered to be the mark of a gullible rube, a sap suckered into a real feeling about a whimsical thing, a party-pooper, an oaf.
I do not care. Nice scarf, clown.
Real Fashion Week-style "men's fashion" people make the lowlier "men's fashion" people at menswear magazines like GQ seem positively blue collar. I would happily tolerate sports coats with jeans, anti-shorts snobbery, and watch fetishism if it meant that I would never be subjected to another credulous take on the practice of wearing capes in public in my morning newspaper. If Fashion Week must be in the newspaper, put it in the funny pages. Snuffy Smith's hat would no doubt draw rave reviews from the menswear press.
A man works hard for a living, respects others, and wears clothes. A clown struts around, makes exclusory remarks, and wears fashion. The man and the clown are separate and distinct. Let's not confuse things.