Music and menswear came together for the second annual Singapore’s Men’s Fashion Week, a five-day fête of emerging and established designers and music artists, held in the splendour of Marina Bay Sands. Each evening was themed according to country: the Korean, Japanese and international shows presented a mix from Britain, the US and Singapore and attracted an equally diverse range of guests. Between the shows, there was more on offer than Champagne and hors d’oeuvres; artists from songstress Yuna Ito to local talent Eli T provided live entertainment.
The shows that rolled out down the catwalk reflected a chronological summary of men’s fashion, beginning with the classic Hollywood glamour of the 1920s. Savile Row tailor Nick Hart of Spencer Hart kickstarted the opening gala; his suits featured subtle details such as a distorted pocket or contrasting lining, to update them for men who like to be classic yet stylish. Spencer Hart fans include P Diddy, Willem Dafoe and Orlando Bloom. To match the island’s casual dress code, shirts were often collarless and light – in material and colour. Attitude rather than aesthetic and ease of wear were of the utmost importance.
Layering moved beyond the standard three-piece suit. Jun Hashimoto’s runway debut began with the issue of how to use black – a colour he has avoided since launching his label in 2004, because it too easily makes a person look good, he says. In a monochrome look, a top-to-toe striped outfit was particularly fashion-forward when finished with a grey pilot vest and chunky scarf.
Fast-forward to more contemporary times as Korean labels displayed sartorial know-how with American-style sportswear. Designer Bumsuk Choi of General Idea was inspired by the garments men wear after playing sport; he envisaged sharp ensembles of fleece jackets and anoraks in colours that reference the Olympic rings. Wearing long-sleeved tops under short sleeves may once have been a fashion faux pas but is now proving popular, especially when the garments are paired in matching checks, as at Richard Chai, or feature the slick proportions of Tae Yong’s Beyond Closet.
French designer Alexis Mabille surprised audiences by remixing his Paris collection with his new underwear line – this, alongside Abercrombie & Fitch’s recent debut in Singapore, means the the Asian region is enjoying a lesson on male intimates. Geometric motifs on underpants worked brilliantly, alongside a bizarre theme combination of Tudor prince meets biker mafia.
Is an androgynous approach the solution not just to menswear, but to fashion in general? The look, long spearheaded by the likes of Comme des Garçons, particularly for autumn/winter 2012/3, surfaced at local label Reckless Ericka, whose gender-free dressing was more cheery than dark.
If K-pop group Se7en was the superstar artist of the event, then Korea’s designer counterpart was ESMOD-trained Songzio, who updated his Paris collection for Asia. Korean star Lee Soo Hyuk and Japanese actor Tanihara Shosuke modelled for Songzio, producing an Asian parallel to Miuccia Prada’s star-studded Milan show in January. While the aesthetics could not be more different, both collections raised questions about intellectual styling. For Songzio, volume is the answer, displayed in a riff on overcoats. Trousers were appropriate for dressing in the tropics; detachable leather legs took the style from neat to dressy.
The trusty backpack found itself in the limelight: everyone had their own version, from quilted colour blocking on geometric shapes at General Idea and studded MCM leather numbers to Matthew Miller’s signature styles for the urban hiker. Exuberance filled the air and it certainly showed in the tongue-in-cheek fashions that led the week.