Male Box: New – Times Two – for 2012!

January 16, 2012 • Magazine, Male Box

Fashion types are always obsessed with what’s “new” but for Spring Summer 2012 everything old is new again. Brands that we had come to think of as reliable old standbys are suddenly fresh again thanks to a healthy dose of new – to the brand – design talent.

Rocker chicks from LA to New York may have been a little worried about the changes at Balmain, the brand they had come to rely upon for high fashion with an edge. They need not have worried. Olivier Rousteing rose to the challenge of his sudden promotion after Christophe Decarnin’s unplanned departure from the label. Some designers choose to play it safe and carry on when they take over, waiting a few seasons to introduce their own design aesthetic. Not so with Rousteing. He kept the rocker chick silhouette, but immediately introduced his own viewpoint with the Spring Summer 2012 collection, hoping to bring a little “class” back to the brand.

To find that intangible quality, Rousteing looked to the archives and drew inspiration from Pierre Balmain himself and from the designs of a young Oscar de la Renta for the storied label. What emerged was a perfect fusion of modern edge and old world craftsmanship. Gone are the spikes and pyramid studs and here are the intricate embroideries once so clearly a hallmark of the brand. The cantilevered jacket shoulders are softer this season and long western fringe adds a bit of swing to the Balmain woman’s swagger.  Even the old Paris spring standby of floral for spring is edged up and given the full Rousteing treatment. The result is a collection that feels familiar, yet utterly fresh.

Fans of Christophe Lemaire’s designs and high production value fashion shows  were slightly worried last September when we walked in to see a bare runway. Who could forget when it snowed on the runway and the front row in Bryant Park?  For several seasons, Lemaire’s sporty tableaus of shiny happy models in bright colors had even sulky, jaded, all-black-wearing New  Yorkers believing that the clothes brought their own fun. Lemaire’s designs had fashion editors – myself included – wanting to sign up for tennis and ski lessons in droves just to have a reason to wear the clothes. No one can deny that Lemaire brought the sportiness back to sportswear.

Such a solidly established image can be a tough hurdle for a new designer, especially for a Portuguese one stepping into a French fashion house. Felipe Oliveira Baptista took the challenge head on by keeping the fit and bringing on the sexy. What? Sexy, you say? At Lacoste? Inspired by the South of France in the 1920s, Baptista relaxed the fit and slashed at by now all too  familiar proportions. The classic polo falls off the shoulders and is cropped to just below the bust line. The shirtdress is hiked up above mid thigh. The anorak becomes a full coverage slip dress with slouchy sleeves and a kerchief hem. The look is pure Lacoste – bright colors, color blocking, and sporty trims – but the feel is more “just rolled out of bed” than bounding onto a tennis court.

Whether your style is edgy or sporty, Spring 2012 has some great new options for you. The new designers at old brands will keep you looking fresh. If “new” is your black, you’re in for a very fashionable spring!

1. Balmain Spring 2012 RTW
2. Balmain Spring 2012 RTW
3. Balmain Spring 2012 RTW
4. Lacoste Spring 2012 RTW
5. Lacoste Spring 2012 RTW
6. Lacoste Spring 2012 RTW

—Joseph Ungoco

Image Layout: Kristine Horton

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