Military discipline

di Fabio Maria Damato

Army aesthetics are being revived to embody masculinity in menswear: from Napoleon to Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman, via the corridors of power as envisaged by Prada.

Military discipline
Dior

Exactitude is in fashion. Next winter’s man will march quickly and confidently in stylish clothes inspired by military discipline. He was born to command and there is no doubt about his masculinity, but there is nothing grotesque about his macho look. His footsteps echo in barracks and the corridors of power that are so dear to Miuccia Prada, who has given the building of her foundation a feel that lies somewhere between Orwellian tales and an absolutist secretariat. Our man is an officer of style, with an immaculate, fastidiously prim wardrobe. His appearance brings to mind scenes from cult films that have become part of the contemporary popular imagination thanks to acting by stars such as Richard Gere, Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, with their evocation of military atmospheres. This spirit was also present in the military gait and style conceived by Kris Van Assche for the Dior Homme show. The same is true of the fashion show/performance by Umit Benan, who said: “I wanted to depict soldiers on the day after the end of a war, showing the moment before they go home, when they are preparing for the final, commemorative photo.” Travelling soldiers were also designed for Kenzo, with Humberto Leon and Carol Lim parading them alongside a train that was heading for the front. The hypothetical trenches awaiting them represented the contemporary world. References abounded to the environment triumphantly portrayed in An Officer and a Gentleman and Pearl Harbor, with modern man leaving behind the eccentric excess of the catwalks in favour of substantial, moderate and authoritative garments. This could be seen on the Versace catwalk. Alongside the metal studs and rivets, chocolate hues and floral bouquets, Donatella Versace opted for uniform-style woollen coats and camouflage that was suitable for the front line. Images of this kind also emerged in the sophisticated officer’s coats by Dries Van Noten and the Foreign Legion jackets from Balenciaga. Then there were the Top Gun jackets featuring a blend of army greens and elements from the English countryside: quilted offerings from Burberry Prorsum and simple ones from Dsquared2. In Autumn-Winter 2012/13, it turns out that clothes do make the man. While the future is hard to predict in today’s uncertain economic climate, at least it seems that we can count on men’s wardrobes, which are embracing a return to the old roles of clothing. They may even look so far back in time that they rediscover the spellbinding appeal of the quintessential general, emperor and conqueror: Napoleon Bonaparte. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana gave a fresh take on his look in the shape of velvet jackets embroidered with golden thread, in Dolce & Gabbana’s tribute to baroque with a few hints of the Directory era. The same flavour could be found in Sarah Burton’s creations for Alexander McQueen, as well as in the coats and jackets with lines of golden buttons that brightened up the catwalks of Yohji Yamamoto and Gucci by Frida Giannini. It was also on show in the double-breasted down jackets designed by the inspired Thom Browne for Moncler Gamme Bleu, which were worthy of an admiral and must have been separated at birth from the coats worn by Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men. Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing – the latest Wunderkind of French fashion – has also got in on the act. His nod to the army of the Tsars of Russia was mixed with the softness of Rudolf Nureyev. The new season will be remembered for the return of a strong, masculine and authoritative look, and the trend of dressing like real men will regain its lost supremacy.