Men hog the ramp in style - Male designers take fashion week by storm

THE movement for men's fashion continues to gather steam as metrosexuals morph into bona fide role players in the economics of fashion.

At last week's SA Fashion Week, founder Lucilla Booyzen toasted the first-ever menswear competition which saw seven up-and-coming labels pitted against each other for the top prize.

It was won by a label curiously called Beware of the Wolf in Sheep's Clothing. Not an outright favourite because the designer's philosophy seemed to be to "pile up stuff".

While the colours were vibrant and the materials decadent and luxurious, the jury is still out when it comes to the label's execution.

It seemed like the kind of designs the Dalai Lama would be proud of.

It lacked flair and meticulous presentation.

My money was on Amos Tranque for his architectural and abstract art fashion - but not his freakish octopus shirt made for men with four arms.

When the established labels swept the runway, there were moments of brilliance, but they were few and far between. Most of the collections felt like they were regurgitated. Some of the clothes brought déjà vu moments or did little to advance the course of menswear.

Trusted designer House of Ole once more proved his mettle. His collection was presented as an installation and was dominated by pastels. His collaboration with Nelson Makano yielded a refreshing collaboration of fine art and dressing. The tailoring was on point and the finishing exceptional.

Ole also roped in the services of milliners Simon and Mary with creations from their Mounty and Julian range of hats.

Palse pleased fashionistas with his distinctive European collection which seemed to hinge on clashes of patterns, materials and colours. Some of the most outstanding creations included hand-sewn clock shirts and pants.

Ephymol borrowed from the nautical influence and his chunky jerseys were clear winners. Tartan in its different interpretation also featured. His shirts alone elicited oohs and aahs from the hard-to-please fashion critics. His batik shirts and their motif that was peppered through the collection made for a dynamic texture.

Ephymol's show-stopper was a denim suit complete with waistcoat. For a change too much was not too much in this creation; it worked well.

Naked Ape presented muted, earthy colours with a dash of colour springing up from time to time. Browns, burnt oranges, greys, blacks and blues dominated.

His signature contrast of fabrics and materials was present.

However, niggling issues persisted throughout the collections - the small matter of removing fluff and pieces of thread awkwardly placed on garments, or ironing to ensure that folds don't come undone and clothes are freshly steamed.

Attention to detail is everything on a national runway because the expectations are high and the scrutiny intense.

While menswear continues to make big strides, it should not lose traction due to industry limitations.

Take for example the two jackets showed by Palse and Ephymol. Literally cut from the same cloth, they have left the two designers uncomfortable, but the reality is that the suppliers of quality fabrics in Johannesburg are too few.

The next level would be manufacturing our own prints.


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