But total perfection? That’s just not cool. Which is why Savile Row tailoring always looks as though it needs to be roughed up, its perfect symmetry replaced with something on a different, even jarring note. One thing that stood out at the latest men’s shows was the idea of taking a shine to sobriety. New fabrics with an aurora borealis of shimmer have transformed tailoring. Sure, Helmut Lang did shine in the 1990s, but that was mostly on new age tailoring. Reflective materials are now used for classic pieces so that they no longer look retro-futuristic, but rather shout modernity. There was an eerie glamour to Alexander McQueen’s transparent nylon coats. And the plastic wrappings at Italo Zucchelli’s Calvin Klein show had a sly sexual charge not seen at the house since Calvin’s visible underpants.
A different buzz comes from referencing extreme sports, a sadistic embrace of delirious danger. Neoprene, as used by Zucchelli, has a weird tactile sponginess to it. And even Armani seemed to create a throbbing new version of the active male with Emporio thermo-sealed snow suits and the luminous shine of stretch jersey. Of course, these pieces only look cool when worn in a cocktail lounge or a club. One of the most prevalent symbols of displaced elegance was the influence of ski wear. Fashion has a wonderful ability to sense something in the wind: like global warming before the Davos guys have started to pronounce on it. As we know, denim workwear, military jackets, cavalier riding boots and old-style City of London bowlers only hit fashion when they were no longer worn in town.