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All right, guys, let's get Guys tough

March 24, 2007|Adam Tschorn | Times Staff Writer

When it comes to L.A. Fashion Week, it's still a woman's world and the guys are just living in it, but menswear seemed to be gaining ground on the runway this season, in style if not in numbers.

While women's looks for fall ran the gamut from hot pants to ball gowns, the XY chromosome was busy trying to break out of the role of T-shirt-wearing arm candy, and there was just enough menswear under the tents last week to get a bead on the season.

Animal skin is definitely in -- not only in leather outerwear pieces (patchworked, distressed and processed to the consistency of a chamois cloth), but also in collar, cuff and pocket accents on sweaters, blazers and shirts. Denim remains skater-punk skinny in silhouette, and the colors are headed in opposite directions: muted gray and a dark, raw indigo.

Military influences continue their forward march -- especially in outerwear pieces like Army field jackets and bomber jackets with an abundance of epaulets, straps, buckles and zippers.

With the resurgence in street wear, the hooded sweatshirt has entrenched itself as a staple of the men's wardrobe, and a lot of creative effort seems focused there this season (if the men's button-front woven shirt, which has been dying a slow death for several seasons, still exists you wouldn't know it from anything that appeared on the runway).

While most of the men's looks followed the pack, there were some noteworthy pieces.

The most bang for the beefcake came with underwear line 2(X)ist. Design director Jason Scarlatti decided to mount the brand's first-ever runway show because it had grown so varied (including a collection made with soy fiber).

Most of the offerings were variations on the traditional brief and T-shirt combo, but unique pieces included a linen branch-print boxer trunk and a short-pants version of the old-school union suit that evoked the current trend in Deadwood chic.

Anthony Franco was another designer to mine that particular gulch. Among his 16 men's looks were a union suit (full-length this time) paired with cowboy boots and a leather motorcycle jacket and what might hold the dubious distinction of being the manliest-looking, thigh-grazing shirt-dress ever inspired by a canceled HBO frontier drama.

Christian Audigier delivered on his promise of a "sexpensive" look by filling the catwalk with as many multi-embellished logo pieces his fevered Gallic mind could churn out from overnight bags to metallic leather bomber jackets. (One T-shirt, emblazoned with an appliqued leopard-print marijuana leaf makes one wonder what he might have been smoking and what might have happened to the leopard.)

The Grail and Literature Noir shows both seemed to be gunning for the same Dickensian hipster demographic, though Grail was the more memorable with a slim-cut gray plaid suit with a floral overprint, an all-over star print hoodie and a sea of nautical-striped thermals.

Designer Eric Kim, whose L.A.-based Monarchy denim line has been gaining momentum over the last few seasons, showed an ambitious Monarchy Collection for fall that hit most of the trends without feeling scattershot -- and showed that his line had legs far beyond the core jeans product.

Kim's denim was dark and raw with bold contrast stitching around pockets and zippers. Jackets were raw-edged, floral hoodies were lined with suiting fabric and outerwear ran the gamut from a patchwork Army field jacket with leather accents and fur-collared trench coats to appliqued denim biker jackets.

Men may not rule the runway in Culver City, but collections like Kim's are proof that L.A. designers definitely have something stylish to offer to the fellows this fall.

adam.tschorn@latimes.com

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