Runway Report: Masculine-Feminine Interplay for Spring 2013

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Runway Report: Masculine-Feminine Interplay for Spring 2013

From left to right: Kriemler reinterprets the white shirt as a dress at Akris; Altuzarra showcases workman’s couture; Phillip Lim does feminine with grungy edge; Alexander Wang goes sporty with football-chic silhouettes.

Borrowing from menswear has been in vogue for years. Blazers, chunky watches, brogues, boyfriend jeans: all of these imports from the menswear universe mark this trend’s staying popularity. On this season’s runways, however, designers have decided to reinterpret sartorial masculinity for the now. Menswear references have been distilled and abstracted, creating a chic, innovative look for Spring 2013.

One of the month’s best examples was Joseph Altuzarra’s New York presentation, which made use of two dueling fabrics: railroad striped cotton and opulent silk and velvet. These two opposing inspirations were brought together under the close hand of Altuzarra’s couture tailoring. The collection’s formal innovations served as a stage for interplay between the masculine and the feminine. Opening the collection were a series of trenches that, while utilitarian and tailored, hugged the curvature of the body in sensuous ways. The dialogue between wardrobes of men and women continued with crisp shirts embellished lightly with couture beading. Suiting references also made star appearances. Again, however, their masculinity was present but not overriding. Indeed, Altuzarra’s emphasis was on the exquisite skirts and paints; the menswear-inspired jackets and striped shirts were mere accompaniments.

In Paris, the Akris collection also played up tailoring as a huge factor in wardrobe. The shirt was interpreted in ways that fit a more womanly aesthetic: a shirtdress, a shirt worn with a chic skirt, and many more. The suit was envisioned anew. One of the collection’s key pieces was a cream blazer with rounded shoulders. The twist, however, was that the pants featured a provocative slit all the way to the hip. It was new, convincing, and easy. Albert Kriemler, the brand’s creative director, encapsulated the season’s overarching conversation.

Alexander Wang chimed in with propositions of his own. Continuing his series of minimal, ultra-modern collections, Wang presented a powerful woman who wore languid dresses that contrasted with boxy jackets and tops. Almost all of the collection’s pieces featured invisible seams that created the effect of floating panels of fabrics—futuristic, indeed. This modern edge appeared most dominantly in a boxy, football jersey silhouette. However, skinny shorts and chic skirts provided feminine balance. Elsewhere, clean white shirts accompanied compelling leather skirts, speaking yet again to the seasons interplay between masculine and feminine.

Wang’s New York colleague added a grungy mood to the discussion at 3.1 Phillip Lim. Transparent chiffon dresses were paired with tough bomber jackets; rough tartan shirts wrapped around the waist accented printed skirts; patent platform sandals with industrial ankle straps played on classic Doc Marten’s. Yet at the same time, the collection’s driving force was its feminine underpinning: floral print bags, sensibly slim pants, and a fabulous hot pink motorcycle jacket. Who could pass up a piece so irresistible?

Perhaps what’s best about this season’s trend is that it’s both accessible and unique. This trend rejects the idea that masculinity has to be worn without interpretation and instead asserts a new look that is much more abstracted. Despite this season’s masculine streak, there was a sense of devout feminism in these clothes that was compellingly beautiful.

-Erich Kessel

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