Can men's fashion be a woman's affair? If you look closely, it's a rare practice in the community. As many men designers who create for women are very numerous in Paris, London, Milan or New York, the opposite is not true. These creators who imagine men's clothes and send them on the catwalk are a small group of irreducible. Nevertheless, the ones we have chosen to mention are world famous and respond to the names of Donatella Versace, Miuccia Prada, Silvia Fendi, Veronique Nichanian, Clare Waight Keller, Sarah Burton and Stella McCartney. What do they really inspire in men's fashion? A lot.
An artistic director at Hermès in place for 31 years
Véronique Nichanian is an exception. Not only because she has been artistic director of a house – Hermès – for 31 years and many of her colleagues would like to know the secret of such longevity. Also because she is a woman who creates for the man. Just for the man. And that this is not usual in the modosphere.
Each season, the designer innovates and renews her statement while remaining true to the notion of discreet luxury that is the reputation of the house. His man, who combines a sense of desire, elegance and apparent simplicity, marched last June in the outdoor courtyard of the Mobilier National in Paris. Against a backdrop of textile research and very sophisticated colors, this man displayed in the same silhouette notes of sweetness and virility.
Hermes show at the Mobilier National in Paris, Spring-Summer 2020 Collection. (Courtesy of Hermès)
On the other side of the Alps, creators with historical names – Versace, Prada, Fendi – have taken over the creative reins of the family business and are in charge of the men's collections. Thus, Silvia Fendi draws the men's collections (and all the accessories) of the Roman house founded in 1925 by her grandparents. His trademark ? A masculine silhouette that expresses itself between playful luxury (a notion brought by Karl Lagerfeld, artistic director of the female collections of the Roman house for 54 years, disappeared last February), mastery of the workshops (leather and fur, hearts of profession from home, are celebrated) and comfort cuts.
Another distinctive sign: Silvia Fendi regularly calls on artists to co-design her men's collections. The most recent guest, the Oscar-winning Sicilian director Luca Guadagnino, notably known for Call Me By Your Name released in 2016.
Fendi Fashion Show, Spring-Summer 2020 Collection. (Courtesy of Fendi)
Miuccia Prada, the popesse of Italian fashion
At Prada, fashion is also a family story. Miuccia Prada – with the help of her husband Patrizio Bertelli, the current CEO of the house – transformed the leather business launched by his grandfather Mario Prada in 1913 into the luxury empire. Through hard work, innovation and rigor, Miuccia Prada has made its name a brand ultra sharp, venerated by the big fashion and very bankable, popular with the general public.
As for Miuccia Prada, she became the popesse of the Italian fashion or the Pythia of the sector, with always a stylistic advance on her peers. Technically, the recipes – if we can decode the Prada formula – applied to men's fashion are about the same as for women's fashion, and oscillate between conceptual rigor, retro and avant-garde influences.
Prada Fashion Show in Shanghai, Spring-Summer 2020 Collection. (Courtesy of Prada)
Donatella Versace in place since 1997
The Versace case is quite different. Already integrated as a muse and director of the Versace label launched by his brother, the Calabrian designer Gianni Versace, in 1978 (the other brother, Santo, is the financial director), Donatella Versace recovers orders from the Medusa on the death of Gianni – murdered in July 1997 in Miami. Fashion icon, its aura quickly exceeds the boundaries of the sector. On the style side, the determined designer, invariably perched on high heels, continues with panache the formula of the late Gianni Versace oscillating between gilding, grungerie and baroque spirit. His hyper-sexualized man plays vinyl, leather harness, open shirt plunging on a bronzed beardless torso and never forbids the comfort of a sportswear jacket or pants.
Versace Fashion Show in Milan, Spring-Summer 2020 Collection. (Courtesy of Versace)
On the other side of the Channel, Sarah Burton is the spiritual daughter of Alexander McQueen. Trained at her side in her creative studio, it is she who takes over when the British designer suddenly puts an end to his life in 2010. The former right arm is launched in the arena, as much for the collections man and woman , and thus joins the very closed circle of women who make men's clothes. Hailed by professionals from her first steps at the head of the house, the young woman perseveres in the path of her mentor between tailoring expertise (Alexander McQueen started at Savile Row), mystical references and winks to the British identity.
A Stella Beattie, Stella McCartney started in fashion at Chloé as Artistic Director in 1997, then created in her name in 2001 through women's collections. It was only in 2016 – at Abbey Road's recording studios – that she unveiled her first men's collection. The latter presents comfortable silhouettes that navigate between chic spirit and sportswear winks, all on a background of eco-responsible fashion – a clear line of conduct for the designer. Other British to excel on the male podium: Clare Waight Keller, who was named head of the collections of men and women of the French brand Givenchy in 2017. Last June, guest of honor Pitti Uomo in Florence, she delivers a Ultra modern dandy male silhouette that weaves links between Charles Baudelaire and streetwear.
Alexander McQueen Spring-Summer 2020 Collection. (Courtesy of Alexander McQueen)
Finally, what brings together this group of women with stylistic signatures as diverse and varied? " VSe are all women who love men, and it shows in their work Julie Kechichian concludes from trend cabinet Nelly Rodi. " We sometimes hear from some male designers that they do not like women very much because they sometimes mistreat their bodies in corsets, or put pressure on their curves with very sharp clothes. This is never the case in women who create for men. We note as a benevolent look on their congeners in their vision of fashion, which is also often the focus of comfortable cuts. "
It could be the title of a remake of François Truffaut's Nouvelle Vague: These women who loved men, with our creators in key roles. Unless we prefer the already existing title of another French director: And tenderness ? whorehouse !