The menswear shows for spring / summer 2022 have now wrapped – with a raucous party in Paris, by all accounts – leaving in their wake an optimistic and hopeful new stance.
Rather than a complete overhaul of styles, the new ethos seems to be about building on the familiar but with a lighter touch, to better fit the renewed openness of what is hoped will soon be a post-pandemic world.
Here are the trends to know for the season ahead.
The mainstay of every man’s wardrobe – the suit – is back, after a brief Covid-imposed hiatus. What the pandemic has done for the boardroom staple, however, is replace full-length trousers with shorts, still worn with a structured jacket. Seen at Prada and Fendi, a tailored blazer with shorts clearly is the new way forward.
At Armani, however, the concept of the suit was rethought completely, to encompass top and bottom in matching cloth. A blouson zip-through, worn with double-pleat trousers, rolled at the ankle? If they are in the same material, it’s a suit, so said the Italian maestro who has been quietly subverting tailoring for decades. Hermes, meanwhile, delighted in turning things inside out, literally, with a perfectly cut, sightly loose reversible jacket over trousers, allowing two looks for the price of one.
Burberry kept things formal with suits still covered in tailors' chalk, but downplayed it all by removing the sleeves, while Dries Van Noten added a shirt collar to create a completely new hybrid alternative. Dolce & Gabbana added bomber-jacket sleeves to its blazers, or patchworked fabric offcuts, while at Fendi, it went one better and sawed off jackets across the mid torso, leaving a formal bolero with matching flat-front trousers.
Move on over
Another 2022 take on the suit jacket is the new closing. Somewhere between a single and double-breasted cut, designers shifted the button a couple of inches to the right, creating a sort of nipped-in effect.
It might not sound like much, but this elegant new shape was seen with glorious effect at Jil Sander and Dior, which held its jackets closed with elaborate costume jewellery, while Dolce & Gabbana cut its jackets from molten golden cloth or smothered them in multi-coloured crystals.
Dance like no one is watching
There's no mistaking the rave-y vibe for summer 2022, as designers (and the rest of us) long for the pandemic to be well and truly over, and for crowds to be able to return to the sheer joy of dancing en masse in close proximity.
Over at Loewe, there were clubwear-inspired top-and-short combos, complete with bucket hats and whistles around necks, while Dries Van Noten opted for overly large, neon tops over baggy print jeans.
Even Jil Sander, normally the last bastion of minimal expression, let loose with a fluffy yellow tank top the colour of custard, over tracksuit-style trousers, and a loosely knitted tank that simply read "Fun".
JW Anderson went for shaggy jumpers with matching vests in bubblegum pink and tracksuits covered in enormous strawberries. Even Louis Vuitton delivered an over-long plastic coat covered in smiley faces.
The long and the short of it
This new sense of freedom seems to extend to trouser lengths, or lack thereof. At Prada, we were gifted micro shorts under blazers, and boiler suits rolled up as far as humanly possible, while at Dries Van Noten, trousers were so long, they sat in great puddles of fabric around shoes.
Rick Owens, meanwhile, jacked his models up on platform-soled shoes, and stretched the trouser hem to the floor, making legs look three metres long – a tidy trick favoured by one Victoria Beckham to add inches to her height.
Skirts for boys
While this idea has been flirted with several times, finally, it now makes sense. After months of boundary-shifting lockdowns, travel restrictions and working from home, why shouldn't boys be allowed to ditch the trousers and just wear a skirt?
Forget skater skirts or anything too tailored; this is something more relaxed, lungi-style. At Louis Vuitton, skirts were wrapped over trousers like samurai armour, while Dries Van Noten stretched tops to just-above-knee-length, worn over shorts only marginally longer.
Burberry also stretched tops, leaving just a sliver of shorts peeking out, while Rick Owens revisited swimsuits of the 1930s that came with integrated skirts. Even Fendi opted for a collared linen tunic for a very summery feel.
All this laid-back change filtered down to footwear, with most brands offering various takes on strappy summer sandals.
Loewe went one better with a loose fabric boot wrapped at the ankle, as a male version of the Westwood pirate boot circa 1981. Diesel, however, embraced an easy-living mandate and simply added boots to the ends of its jeans, presumably to make life easier when returning home after partying.
Ever the renegade, Rick Owens went one better with chunky mid-calf boots, with an integrated mini smoke machine, so even if you cannot get out of the house, you can still party like it's 1999.