Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Ken's Eye View: Winter 2020 Menswear

The boys are back!!!! It's been awhile since I've presented a menswear report. That is because, for .the last number of seasons, men's fashions have been in a state of anarchy thanks to a transgender movement which does a mashup of mens and womenswear, underwear and outerwear, all rolled together in a clash of color and print. The stately male models have been surpassed by what appears to resemble awkward adolescents and nerdy 20-somethings. All of this is clutter to an eye of this seasoned reporter. But for the Autumn Winter 2020-21 season, me and my dude dolls took a trip to Paris and Milan where we were finally successful in finding a few looks we thought ranged from classically practical to colorfully interesting. 

Full Disclosure. The information for this post was gathered from last January's menswear weeks (pre-Covid days) in France and Italy. The spring/summer 2021 press presentations originally scheduled for this month have been cancelled.

Digital Noise (Milan)
Look out for a season of grey skies next Autumn. On center stage: lots of mottled knits, pebbly tweeds and a combination of textured novelty wools, sometimes all in the same garment. We love the grey on grey layering. And please note....pants run the full gamit from skinny jeans to geezer wide legged trousers. Though I didn't have any on hand, a pair of knitted socks would be perfect for making either one of these sweaters with its accessories!

Don't be afraid to mix up your greys and add a touch of aluminum for a subtle spark. Also on trend....great big overcoats worn with skinny, above-the-ankle jeans worn with high topped sneakers....all, of course in a palette of grey.

The Overcoat (Milan)

If you only have time to make your guys one garment, let that be an overcoat. Again, the silhouette for this item is super wide that you take and wrap around the body like a cocoon. Notice how big, round and broad these coats are. The bigger the better! I'm not a big fanof the Jil Sander coat, but this is something you could make that both genders of your dolls can share! In fact, for this report, I did think of duel purpose coats that could be shared amongst all my dolls!

For Zack, we went old school, relying on classic fall fabrics: glen plaids, small checks and tweeds. Zack's coat, a throw back to the glamour days of Humphrey Bogart films, is a simple, double breasted overcoat that wraps around the body and is worn over a funnel neck sweater and wide checked trousers with cuffs. 

An Officer and a Gentleman (Paris)
Very British indeed, my guys loved these coats by the house of Givenchy. Narrow officer's coats are cut from neutral colored wools, each marked with a small slice of velvet. Their worn over  skinny pants paired with knee high boots or moderately wide trousers.

Skin Deep (France)
Looking ahead to leather weather, look for the sheen of leather (or faux leather) to become a major force in monsieur's winter wardrobe. That includes trousers of all widths, super wide overcoats as well as sport jackets.  Black is big but so are dark tones!

Loic loved the look of leather on leather. But instead of replicating this line for line, for him, I opted for a more rock star silhouette. I cut the trousers down to skinny jeans and made those as well as his overcoat out of a really nice faux leather (skai). I must admit, working with skai was much easier to handle and sew than real leather. However, where it comes to finishing....it was a bit of a chore. This is because, normally the seams and details of a leather garment are held down with the help of rubber cement (because you cannot iron the seams shut). Unfortunately, I discovered rubber cement doesn't work well with faux leather! My sewing machine is having issues, otherwise, top-stitching would be the best way to go. 

Livin' Large (Paris)
Seems like every 40 years, menswear takes a stroll down a very wide lane and 2020 is no exception. Woooyoungmi's zoot suits recall the 1940's with long, double breasted jackets and super fluid trousers. Fast forward to Yohji Yamamoto who has been faithful to his 1980's androgynous black suits that swing and sway down the catwalk. We particularly loved that zoot-suit piece of chain swaying all the way down past the knees of his 3 piece suit. They are in black but feel free to use pinstripes, tweeds or an entire gamut of dark tones.

Fur Real (Milan)
As men are now free to experiment with looks once reserved for women, fur (real or faux) will become a major part of a well dressed guy doll's winter wardrobe. And through we love the simple lines of Etro's simple coat, there are many ways to go with this trend. Featured here....a cape slipped over the shoulders of a jeans clad hunk, a triple layered mink coat slipped over a cable knit sweater and kaki trousers and finally--a spotted faux that slinks over the skinniest of pants.

Wild Thang (Paris)
It doesn't stop there. Our "Beasty" brothers are rocking their pop star looks with wild and crazy renditions of faux fox, leopard and monkey fur.  
I'm afraid that Lee got into the girls' closet and sneaked out one of their shaggy furs! (That's ok, the girls are always borrowing from the guys as well!). This is a shaggy faux fur sold at many craft stores. Front, back and sleeves is all the pattern pieces you need to make this hot fashion accessory. 

Again, this is a simple coat slung over a denim jacket and a pair of jeans. It doesn't matter that this isn't a fur coat. What counts is the pattern. In fact, Brad's coat was made from a piece of cotton fabric (quilting square). The right side had a color tone too saturated for what I needed so I turned it around and used the wrong side for a distressed, slightly bleached out effect that compliments the denim.

South of the Border (Milan)
It's colorful without being brash, playful without being resembling costumes... let's take a trip to South America for some fresh ideas. We loved the paisley prints, striped scarf fabrics, the lumberjack plaid topped with leather, the ponchos edged with fringe. These are looks that are very simple to make! 
Renauld loved the combination of plaid and leather. I cut up an old scarf to make his jacket. 

In Living Color (Paris)
This will not be everybody's taste... but it does show how color...vivid, eye popping bright color...is worked into menswear...of all things! Again, the inspiration originate from far reaching cultures. The sun is shining somewhere in the world.
Integrity Toys produced a male doll  (Darius Reid Art of Manliness) dressed in a hot pink suit. Though I ordered the doll (he's at the bottom of this page), I got him nude because I didn't like the suit. And then I saw this suit and decided I would give it a try. It's a simple silhouette with a lot of pockets. I chose a funnel neck as opposed to a mao collar in an effort to simplify things and avoid bulk. Admittedly few of my dolls can pull this off. I did consider pairing the jacket with navy trousers (see below) but it seems to me this is an all or nothing look. I'm still not partial to those patch pockets (the color is already enough). Nonetheless, Lamar was able to work the look in style. 
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Velvet Underground (Milan)
There are no surprises here... just the classic good looks of a velvet suit that has been popping up on red carpets over the last couple years. 

Skinny Dipping (Milan)
First and foremost, the message here is the silhouette... dress jackets and sport coats are slim, long and trace the body. The next thing to notice..the "man purse." 
But for my guy, Kim, I focused on a simple double breasted jacket and slim pants with the startling application of "statement" embroidery. This red carpet look caught my eye and sparked m yinterest. Why not take a simple white suit and treat it as a canvas. When I first saw the original Alexander McQueen suit, I thought I saw a drawing of trees. My original intent was to make the suit and paint on the trees. But after all of the work on the jacket (notched collar, interfacing, buttonhole pockets..) I didn't want to risk making a mistake. The idea came to me to shred braided trim and then add strips of frayed taffeta, both of which were then tacked down to the jacket and dribbles down the pants. A sort of faux embroidery! But before I arrived at this design, I also considered cutting out a motif from a print and stitching to one side of the jacket. Or even adding lace and beads. The possibilities are endless! This was really interesting!!!

Desert Storm (Paris)
Balmain's designer (Olivier Rousteing) must have taken a trip to somewhere in the northern part of Africa. Most of the collection stepped right out of the desert and onto the catwalk with a series of draped looks for men. These are styles that are not easy to wear. However, some of these looks appeared so regal, I couldn't resist making one for the newest member of my doll family, Jean Pierre (IT Darius Reid Art of Manliness). 
I was not sure of the result. So I did this on the cheap using not-so-noble materials...an old T-shirt and a bit of stretch cotton for the foundation of the jacket. I did not have the right tone of dye on hand, so I decided to leave everything in white. For a desert look, my materials made more sense than silk. However, cut from silk and chiffon, this would be a majestic evening wear ensemble. It all starts with a simple, collarless jacket with a "train" (lengths of fabric) gathered and stitched into the shoulder seams. Those trains are then wrapped around the body and tied to the side. It's worn over sarouel pants. These originate from North Africa and the middle east. Fullness is incorporated into the top part of the pants, tapering in to fit over the calves of the legs. (Harem pants, on the contrary, are gathered at the top and at the ankles.) In real life these pants are hard to wear because they often look like loose diapers. But on Jean Pierre I was able to control the amount of fullness which, by the way, is gathered into a stretch waistband. 

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  1. I swear you never cease to amaze me. I thought the first and second outfits were the best, but then I kept scrolling and they are so awesome.

    1. So great to see you again, Jaye and thank you for the very kind words. The guys have been reminding me that, as arm candy to the girls....they too need more clothes!!! It's been awhile since I've done one of these mens reports but I sure had fun putting this one together. Happy you enjoyed this.

  2. Golly, I'm really amazed at your interpretations. I really loved the leopard spotted coat set...kinda Steven Tyler. I would love to see you adapt some of the wrap looks on the girls...might be very interesting, and I'm an odd one that loves (and looks good in) mustard gold. Very interesting post! loving all of these looks in one way or the other, Sandi

    1. Hi Sandi... You are so right about the Steven Tyler vibe. I had not thought about it while making the interpretation. I only had a generic rock star in mind. The fact that I chose a Ken doll to dress in this makes it just that much more fun. (You notice I also flocked his molded hair!) At a school where I once taught, we did a project called, "Mens into womenswear" where we would have the student interpret a menswear look into one for a woman. When I first began my menswear reports here, I dressed the girls in feminine versions of the look. For this report, I chose coats that could also be worn by the girls. That last outfit, however, would look stunning in silk for one of the girls!

  3. From the human outfits I like the knitted and tweed combinations the most, along with the velvet suits. The "Desert Storm" outfits are beautiful, but not every man will look good in it I think. Your creations are all stunning, your men look absolutely hot in them! :D Of course Darius is the coolest of them all, I'm a huge fan of that sculpt in all its forms!

    1. Oh Lnida.... I wanted so much to make one of the knitted and tween combos... I scoured my dad's sock drawer trying to find something similar. And with our stay at home orders, I couldn't even go searching in a store! That's the only reason why I didn't make one of those outfits. And yes, some of these looks would be very difficult to wear by the average man. Thank goodness for dolls who can wear almost anything! Actually, all of the black models present during these last menswear shows inspired me to buy Darius. I'm really happy I found something he really shows off in!

  4. Nice one! Tailoring men's ware isn't so easy.

  5. Thank you. Oh yes.... menswear is quite tricky especially on this scale. And my male dolls all have different bodies and varying degrees of articulation! I don't pretend to know anything about tailoring, so the clothes are put together in the same manner as the womenswear. When I first attempted menswear, I took a look at Ken and felt I was way ahead of the game. Later, I bought my first FR Hommes doll. The construction of his clothes were AMAZING! I had (and still have) a ways to go! That said... current men's fashion, like womenswear is all about trends and less about suits which makes it easy to arrive at making something that looks halfway decent. I do use interfacing for the jackets, though. The other problem, though is fabric... very hard to use because they are not scaled for the doll. And so that is why I zero in on edgy styles! This summer, I'm thinking of doing a post just on basics: trousers, shirt and jacket. In any case, always good to see you, Jools!

  6. I was wearing a spotted faux that slinks over the skinniest of pants like 20 years ago, exactly like on Etro photo. It's very british style from 90's early 00's, funny to see this on a catwalk in 2020!
    Love your interpretation of outfits! Your post are always very interesting and are helping people to see current trends in fashion.

    1. Ha ha ha!!! As the saying goes...everything old is new again! I got to the point where I never throw anything away because I know at some point, it will be back in style. (Saves me a lot money!) Thank you so much, Jewel, for your very kind words. Big hugs.

  7. Great article. I am full of admiration for your talent for playing all these doll-scale costumes. You are amazing.

    1. Oh thank you so much for your very kind words, Dlubaniny. This has been a passion of mine since the age of 16. I am so happy to share this with you. Big hugs. April

  8. Fascynująca treść! Bardzo lubię odwiedzać Twój blog, bo zawsze znajdę coś niezwykłego i interesującego! Dzisiejszy "męski" post jest tego kolejnym przykładem. Moda męska jest dla mnie czymś bardzo odległym i ze mną nie współpracuje! Muszę jednak napisać, że powinnam zająć się trendami mody męskiej, gdyż mój nowy Ken czeka na jakiś strój!
    Twoje pomysły będą dla mnie inspiracją, bo widzę tu kilka naprawdę ciekawych rozwiązań, które na lalce wyglądają świetnie!
    Och, gdybym tylko umiała tak szyć, jak Ty!

  9. Olla wrote: Fascinating content! I really enjoy visiting your blog because I will always find something unusual and interesting! Today's "male" post is another example of this. Men's fashion is something very distant for me and does not work with me! However, I must write that I should deal with men's fashion trends, because my new Ken is waiting for some outfit!
    Your ideas will inspire me, because I see here some really interesting solutions that look great on the doll!
    Oh, if only I could sew like you!

    Oh Olla... you are so kind. Thank you for your lovely compliment. I think each one of us has our own special talent. Personally, I think you are so good at sewing. Your dolls are always impeccably dressed. And you produce some of the best crochet work on the internet! And you do amazing children's wear....something I have no feeling for. Menswear is something that only recently I have been able to do. And that is because there is more flexibility today than even 10 years ago. If you think less about the tailoring aspect and more about the trendier looks, more casual styles, I'm sure you'll do a great job at dressing your new doll. Big hugs. April

  10. I love your versions of the outfits. They are much better than the human size ones. ;)

    1. Thank you Kamelia. It's not often I make fashions for the guys. Glad you enjoyed this post.


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