There might be something amiss in my cognitive development as it seems that from my years of being a toddler until now, my favorite books to read are those with pictures in them. One has been getting me quite inspired as of late: 100 Years of Menswear by Cally Blackman. I particularly enjoyed the pages on the years around the early 20th century—forward thinking as we all strive to be today, it is always good practice to master the classics.
The book got me pondering on the question “What is progressive?” Comme des Garcons constantly references old old menswear and tweaks the proportions to their signature delightful unflattery, and, top of mind, Balenciaga womenswear Fall 2007, a collection that I found strikingly progressive and conceptual, was in essence a mishmash of references from the past: striped tennis blazers, military jodphurs, all topped off with then-controversial Arabic scarves. If you think about it, what boldness did the trendsetters of yesteryears have, without any trend-dictating fashion houses available to men, these guys had merely ideas of how they wanted to dress, and they would come to their tailors telling them to do this and that, starting a revolution wearing their new duds on the street. Now that’s progressive.
The book elaborates on the classic male archetypes—the aristocrat, the working man, the student, the athlete, the artist—and how each of these have had an imprint on what it is to be a man today and how they have influenced what we wear.
books c/o Laurence King