Barney Cheng: On SS16 Menswear


Fashion veteran Barney Cheng has never seen anything as far-fetched as the men’s offerings for spring-summer 2016.

The economic climate in Europe must have been so gloomy that all the fashion designers decided to take the Mickey out of their trade. Never have I seen more implausible offerings as I have this season, so I present to you my ‘gasp and get dressed list of spring-summer 2016’. Gentlemen, we might be passed over on the red carpet, but even out of the limelight we can still look like a donkey’s bottom if we’re not careful navigating the endless options on offer!

SS16 is eerily similar to the 1970s, that original decade of economic struggles, cultural change and technical advances. Have you seen the concept car from BMW with the malleable outer shell? The charge for equality of the sexes this time around sees testosterone-laden lads squeezing themselves into their granny’s cast-offs. Case in point is Gucci frontman Alessandro Michele’s crocheted doilies as neckwear and sheer drapery-like shirts bearing cross-stitch roses from grandma’s cushions. It’s hard enough for women to pull off lace blouses but entitled, self-important youth? The look is so defiantly wrong that it actually works. You want to sneer at people? Let them laugh at you first.

Viva Glam what? MAC is being boycotted due to its use of animals for cosmetics testing… Talk about being un-PC! Fortunately for us, animal prints aren’t totally in your face this season, instead replaced by bright and garish graphics and over-the-top baroque patterns. One brand that brilliantly treads the fine line between kitsch and glory is Dolce & Gabbana. This season, the duo decided to go full-hog chinoiserie. Gents, LEARN this word – it’ll go over very well when you have to explain why there are jolly little songbirds all over your lai see red silk twill three-piece suit with matchy-matchy silk scarf shirt. Equally entertaining are their Fu Manchu-inspired looks that exude Chinese takeout redux – all that’s missing is a fan and you can be the slimy old eunuch from Farewell My Concubine.

Dries Van Noten also went totally print wild and channeled not only Elsa Schiaparelli but Marilyn and Dali – yes, bring on the psychedelic barbiturates please! The clashing oversized prints and Marilyn’s face on some young man’s crotch are subversive at best. Then again, we are not on the pages of Interview magazine – and we do have social media recording each and every fashion faux pas from here to eternal hell, so beware, brave hearts! If good taste be damned, then enjoy the ride for all it’s worth – sling on the sheer shirt, wear it over the embroidered Marilyn lip print sleeveless tee, cinch it all in with the zoot suit paper-bag-waisted turnip trousers and enjoy the attention! Just say you are being a very willing ‘creative provocateur’ and someone out there just MIGHT believe you.

Ricky Ricardo would be jiving in his grave seeing all the Cuban collars on show this season and to be fair, they aren’t all bad: ’50s bowling shirts that Brylcreemed grandpas used to wear are now de rigueur in embroidered oversized satin, as per Kim Jones at Louis Vuitton. I personally would go the luxe toned-down route with a bonded leather version, but then again this is fashion and it is supposed to be in your face – so chin up and man a satin one for the gang! Just don’t follow the catwalk parade to a T; wear them fitted so your expensive Crossfit sessions won’t go to waste. But why stop at a postcard-worthy shirt? Wear the whole suit, why don’t you? Alexander McQueen’s head-to-toe pattern is oddly permissible this season, so wear it and laugh at yourself when you’ve finally come back to your senses.

Dreaming of an exotic adventure? Want to jump on the Trump bandwagon and live large like his son who gained infamy for his African trophy kills? ‘Utilitary’ is my new moniker for updated utility/military looks. Turn-of-the-century aviators, jungle-lovin’ botanists and ’Nam vets all inspired this fashioned-up leisure- and workwear. The most implausible looks are the leather coverall – at Fendi, no less! – and the dungarees stitched with silver thread at Givenchy. Anyone over the age of 20 sporting such looks either works in a garage or should be the one shot instead of the poor leopard in Eric Trump’s viral image.

Safari jackets, however, are the easiest look to pull off and in my humble opinion the winning look of the season. Junya Watanabe goes romantic with African patchwork sleeves while Valentino wins for the most luxed-up wearable collection this season. I love the modified multihued green safari jacket, heat-seamed tees and especially the military bonded pea coat embellished with Maasai beadwork. Utterly, devastatingly, gorgeous!

So set your inhibitions free and live for a season like the wild child that eventually grew up and crashed everyone’s party in ’80s… although that’s an idea to inspire a whole other season!

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