PREPARE TO GET SWEATY. No, not that kind of sweaty. More like, ‘it’s the middle of summer and I’m looking at pictures of men swaddled in wool sweaters and trousers’ kind of sweaty. This is because it’s men’s fashion month, where all of the biggest brands are showing their autumn/winter 2024 collections to rows of editors, influencers, buyers and celebrities like Brooklyn Beckham and Jake Gyllenhaal.
The proceedings kicked off in Milan in January, and already, we’ve seen a strong representation of very approachable outfits from Gucci, Fendi, Tommy Hilfiger and Burberry, continuing the trend of non-superfluous practicality we’ve seen dominate the women’s collections of late. Some call it commercial, we call it ‘appropriate for this economy’. But we’ve seen a splashes of colour and narrative, too, thanks to brands like Loewe and Louis Vuitton, who, whether through the clothes, cast, collaborators or setting, remind us that storytelling will never go out of fashion.
Without further ado, scroll on to read our thoughts and opinions on the autumn/winter 2024 season to date.
“This collection has a rebel attitude and a kind heart. The woman is a good girl with a wild soul. She is prim but sexy. Don’t mess with her! The man is her soulmate, a shy genius. They are breaking the
rules to make new ones,” said Donatella Versace of her autumn/winter show. “This is us. This is Versace!”
And Versace it was. Sexy, smart and just the right amount of provocative, this collection tapped into the ineffable essence of the Versace brand, extracting Wild Barocco, metal mesh, Medusa buttons and luxurious fabrics from Atelier Versace, working it all together to create a chronology of looks that balanced glamour with punk (shredded denim and tartan reinforced the latter, as did the spiked hair and eyeliner worn by some of the male models). The jacket Donatella once created for her friend Prince, which had sharp, wide shoulders but was fitted through the waist, reportedly became the reference point for the men’s jackets here. It was a collection full of hits and high art; one capable of making other designers marvel at Versace’s enduring ability to stay two steps ahead of cool.
“Burberry’s heritage of the outdoors continues to inspire me. For Winter 2024, I wanted this collection to feel warm and protective,” said Daniel Lee. Grounded in outerwear, from trench coats to puffers and field jackets, this was a collection that brought the British brand’s legacy as an outfitter of outdoorsy types inside. While these pieces were informed by the icons equestrians once wore to shield themselves from the elements, they are designed to delight and inspire the characters that wear Burberry today (and they will).
For men, the introduction of slightly slouchy pinstriped suiting in grey and olive green felt like a cool new twist (intriguingly, there was no ‘Burberry Blue’, a colour Lee has made a signature in recent collections). A paisley print provided a bohemian balance to the Burberry check, which Lee has focused on modernising since joining the house, while a ‘traditional approach to fabric’ drawn from the mills of Donegal in Ireland and Lochcarron in Scotland saw moleskin cotton blends, wool and leather used across pants, sweaters and, of course, coats.
Lee has dedicated himself to evolving Burberry’s icons while introducing fresh spins since joining the house in November 2022. As such, his collections have carried a sense of consistency that’s rare in the current fashion context, where designers often feel pressured to reinvent the wheel season after season. Not only does this establish trust among his customers, it’s also building the quintessential ‘New Burberry’ look. Having nailed this in his previous gig at Bottega Veneta, it’s safe to say that Lee knows a thing or two about the importance of both.
Coach’s Stuart Vevers clearly has his ear to the ground, because increasingly, his collections aren’t simply projections of what he thinks people will be into—they are manifestations of what people actually want wear right now. The creative director’s autumn 2024 collection was a sharp case in point, with its love-worn leather and patch-worked jeans made from recycled and up-cycled materials in many instances. But it’s one thing to place sustainability at the forefront of the design process—something Vevers has expressed he’s committed to doing long term. It’s another altogether to make it look cool and relevant, and that’s exactly why this collection worked so well.
For men, hoodies were styled under long coats while oversized knits and cardigans hung long over shorts. Slouchy leather biker boots were worn with those shorts, while bags dripped with souvenir-style charms and keychains that paid homage to New York of the ’90s, the decade Vevers arrived in the city. Our read? This was a very good collection. One that will both influence the zeitgeist and sell well when it hits Coach stores.
Titled ‘Le Ciel’ (meaning ‘the sky’ in French), creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli’s new Valentino collection was a meditation on blue. Referring to blue as a colour that’s undergone numerous rebrands, from its origins as a feminine tone to its more contemporary definition as the universal marker of boyhood, Piccioli set out to reimagine it once more through fashion.
He did this by layering the cerulean tone and other pops of colour beneath soft, elegant blazers, boxy t-shirts and trench coats; by examining not only our expectations of certain colours, but by looking differently at the most masculine of fashion ensembles: the suit. Softness, fluidity, delicacy and grace were words that this season’s tailoring, ties and turtlenecks brought to mind. It felt grown up but not in a self-conscious way, like the kind of uniform Valentino’s younger clientele might be graduating into. “I want to give men a new grace and gentleness,” the designer told journalists in a preview. This season’s offering certainly does just that.
This collection marked an exciting new chapter not just in Kim Jones’ tenure at Dior, but in Dior’s history as a brand. For the first time ever, Dior presented Men’s Couture; the culmination of Jones’ ongoing interest in the savoir faire of the house’s haute couture techniques and codes, which he’s spent the past five years translating from their feminine origins to more masculine silhouettes for the modern man.
And what better way to enter the world of couture than ballet, an art form defined by its rigorous elegance and attention to beauty and detail. His point of reference wasn’t just a single point, but a tapestry of interlocking stories that seem too divine to be true. It began with Jones thinking about the relationship between Monsieur Dior and ballet dancer Margot Fonteyn, who, in addition to being a Dior Couture client, was the ‘Juliet’ Rudolf Nureyev’s ‘Romeo’ in The Royal Ballet’s 1965 performance of the Shakespeare tragedy. Nureyev, a Soviet dancer, was one of the world’s best male ballerinas. He was also regularly photographed by his friend Colin Jones, a former ballerina turned photojournalist who so happens to be Kim Jones’ uncle. Talk about a full circle moment.
The collection itself balanced the whimsicality of ballet—slippers, crystal detailing and capes—with Jones’ trademark pragmatism, which made itself known via tailored blazers, crisp shirts and woollen sweaters. After all, a ballerina’s life extends beyond the stage. And while the glamour of the onstage component gives the collection its magic, the wearability of the offstage component will bode especially well for the wardrobes of men IRL.
The topic of how “algorithms flatten culture” has been doing the rounds of my own algorithm of late; American writer Kyle Chayka’s new book, Filterworld, is the topic de jour of internet intrigue while in another genius twist, Jonathan Anderson’s new collection for Loewe reflected on social media, and “how levelled up everything is today”. He collaborated with American artist Richard Hawkins, whose colourful works are created using images from pop culture, art history and porn. In the show, Hawkins’ work was transformed into “snippets” that formed parts of clothing and accessories, from printed pants to jacquard knits and embroidered detailing on oversized Loewe Squeeze bags and Puzzle Fold totes.
In a very Anderson-esque twist, some pieces, like shoes and socks, were attached to one another, but not in a way that could be easily detected by the naked eye. It was, explained the designer in the show notes, “a sardonic attempt to impose rather than propose a look, much like what happens in the collaged reality we are all living in.”
Grace Wales Bonner was thinking about “conscious and cosmic hip-hop” this season, and how it “takes on the mantle of intellectual thinking, and kind of takes it further”. Defined by the social and political consciousness of its lyrics, conscious hip-hop is the realm of intellectual rappers like Kendrick Lamar and Yasiin Bey, the artist more widely known as Mos Def. As a designer, meanwhile, Bonner has become known for her cerebral interrogations of race, class and culture; for her to explore this subsection of the musical genre, then, feels perfectly on point.
The clothes felt a little preppier this season, inspired by the British designer’s recent stint in the States no doubt—last year she curated an exhibition as part of MoMA’s Artists Choice series. Paying homage to the historically black research university in Washington D.C., a ‘Howard’ monogram appeared across sweaters and varsity jackets, while new pieces from the designer’s cult collaboration with Adidas were also revealed. The “cosmic” element was felt in more whimsical pieces, such as a brilliant blue silk women’s dress. That, and a closing performance by one of the forefathers of conscious hip-hop himself, Mos Def.
White leather chaps embroidered with desert flower detailing in turquoise and finished with long, swishy fringe. This was how the “evolution of the Louis Vuitton dandy” took shape this season, marking a big departure from Pharrell’s Pre-Fall 2024 Men’s collection, which was surf-themed, but also his first outing for the French house, which wasn’t so specifically themed yet had the atmosphere of a pop concert.
It was America’s Wild West history, and the inaccuracy of how its portrayed in popular culture (mostly white guys shooting guns), that inspired this collection. After the show, Pharrell told journalists: “When you see cowboys portrayed you see only a few versions. You never really get to see what some of the original cowboys looked like. They looked like us, they looked like me. They looked Black. They looked Native American.” Most importantly, the collection and show was produced with Native American participation and acknowledgement; artists from the Dakota and Lakota nations contributed to elements from adorning accessories with hand painted motifs to designing the soundtrack, with Williams and Lakota “Hokie” Clairmont composing the show’s opening and closing songs.
At 80 looks long, the show’s sartorial element was diverse, with outfits veering from Canadian tuxedos you’d expect to find in a Spaghetti Western to more streetwear-leaning looks. Interestingly, just a single pair of sneakers appeared in the entire line-up. Many of the models were clad in boots from Louis Vuitton’s very anticipated collaboration with iconic US bootmaker Timberland.
All and all, the word that springs into our mind when evaluating this question is ‘fun’. Pharrell knows how to put on a show and tell a story, and this next chapter of his Louis Vuitton vision delivered on just that.
Alessandro Sartori and his team are on “a constant lookout for beauty and excellence with a responsible commitment towards the environment, following a wholesome idea of fashion as transformation: of fabrics, colours, silhouettes”. It’s no small feat, but with every new season, the Italian brand delivers a collection that melds beauty with sustainability; material innovation with desirability. The hero of this collection was the brand’s world-renowned cashmere, which manifested in a huge mound of orange cashmere taking pride of place on the runway, as well as delectable wool overcoats, box-pleated trousers and knitted tops and bottoms with “both presence and performance”.
Another handsome collection full of looks we’d wear again and again and again.
After his autumn/winter 2024 show, which was held in his very own home, Giorgio Armani made a comment which really stuck with us. “I don’t think men’s fashion needs to be changed every season… I believe it must not be an upheaval; the secret is to do the usual, in an unusual way.”
Unlike its feminine counterpart, a world in which trends have become micro-trends that exist on TikTok for a very short time before being surpassed by the next, there remains a certain permanence to men’s fashion. The wheel doesn’t need to be invented every time you go out, and when you find a pair of trousers or a shirt that works, there’s a sense of comfort and safety that comes with that. The Armani uniform, which has maintained a strong identity since it was launched just shy of 50 years ago, is made up of those perfect trousers, suits and shirts—the ones you feel better in the more wear you get out of them. This season’s offering of tailoring in greys and navy blues will make excellent additions the the wardrobes of guys who want to look excellent, always, without bothering themselves with the ephemerality of what’s hot and what’s not.
“This is the sexiest we’ve ever gone—as far as I can go,” said Jonathan Anderson after his show. He’s referring not to the above look, which is decidedly baggy, but the sheer stockings worn by many of his models. It wasn’t so much sexy in a conventional sense—this is JW Anderson, one of the most cerebral designers of our time—but in a perverse, provocative sense.
Stanley Kubrick’s 1999 erotic psychological drama Eyes Wide Shut was a point of inspiration, with a painting that featured in the film’s backdrop (as well as the backdrop of Clockwork Orange) spun into prints that became garments. By swerving from the wearable to the whimsical, this collection was pure JW Anderson genius.
Neck ties and textured caps—if there’s two pieces bound to enter (and stay, in the case of the tie) the zeitgeist following Prada’s autumn/winter 2024 show, it’s these. The collection, said co-creative director Raf Simons, formed a rumination on nature and our relationship with it; a glass runway separating a wetlands-style set below and a corporate office-like environment above played into our separation (yet necessary co-existence) with the natural world today. Yet the theme didn’t translate too heavy-handedly, especially not in the clothes. The tailoring was impeccable, the use of blocked primary colours inherently ‘Prada’ while the slimmer pants silhouette made us want to alter our wide legged trousers quick sticks.
“This collection is about something basic,” go the show notes. “The emotional instinct to remain attached to something that we know, the cycles of nature.”
Where some designers identify a specific source of inspiration for every new collection, Silvia Venturini Fendi prefers to keep a sense of consistency—almost a lack of theme—to her clothes. The uniting force, rather, is attitude; that ethereal, indescribable thing that you can’t really pin down. For a brand to consistently turn out collections that have ‘it’ is quite the feat. This season, you can see it in the long, pleated shorts (which look more like kilts), corduroy trousers (which were actually constructed from suede) and layered tank tops (pictured above!), a seasonally-appropriate look (for Aussies, at least) that we’ll be replicating all summer. Proof that attitude always trumps trends.
Proof that less is more, Tod’s’ autumn/winter collection was a concise affair made up of 18 looks, but it didn’t need anything more to get its point across: a curated, selective wardrobe of the highest quality pieces is the definition of aspirational today. Cable knit sweaters, wool trousers with just the right amount of break and the most sumptuous leather jackets were among the standout pieces on show. Ahead of incoming creative director Matteo Tamburini’s first collection for the brand in February, which will be women’s, this presentation was designed by the brand’s in-house team. The TLDR? This was pure, unmitigated Tod’s.
Dolce & Gabanna
Velvet! Lord it looks good on the Dolce & Gabbana man, whether in trouser, blazer or overcoat form. But this wasn’t the only soft texture the Italian powerhouse wove into its men’s collection this season, with thick wools and fur-like outerwear handmade from shearling providing the yin to the yang of floaty silk blouses and sensuous tailoring.
Black was the shade of the season, marking a slight, sleek departure from the brand’s reputation as a master of playful prints. “A clean and elegant look that even the youngest are approaching,” reads a statement from the brand. Gen-Z superstars in the audience, Noah Beck and Younghoon among them, provided proof of that.
What Sabato De Sarno did this season—his second as the new creative director of Gucci, and his first men’s show for the brand—was remarkable. Following mixed reviews of his first outing, which were coloured by comparisons to the eccentric maximalism of his predecessor, the designer doubled down on his vision for this new Gucci, presenting what was essentially a mirror image of his women’s collection, but for the masculine dresser.
“I read some critics in September who said: ‘Oh, he just did a commercial collection for the brand: blah blah blah.’ This is bullshit,” he said in a preview ahead of the show. Then, he backed himself in and leant into the mould he created back in September. And what transpired was one of the strongest, most assured collections thus far. At a time when designers are treated a little bit like disposable commodities—they are pressured to throw everything at the wall, and if it doesn’t stick, it’s not uncommon for them to be let go by the powers that be after only a few seasons—it’s very cool to see a designer stick to his guns and believe in his vision. We look forward to seeing what the outspoken De Sarno does next.