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Menswear takes a defensive stance with grays, metal and plenty of zippers

February 22, 2009|Adam Tschorn

Gray stoked

The waves of gray that flooded the European men's runways earlier this season are now lapping at our shores, and the result is a steely crop of men's suits and sportswear. But that hardly meant dull. Labels including Diesel Black Gold, Calvin Klein, G-Star Raw and Monarchy Collection served up Prince of Wales checks, herringbones and color-blocked shades of charcoal, iron and smoke.

Band of Outsiders matched its shades-of-gray patchwork suit with color-blocked gray wool flannel boat shoes, its newest collaboration with Sperry Top-Sider.

Metal shop

If the New York runways are any indication, fall 2009 is going to have a hard time passing through an airport metal detector. From the chain mail at Rag & Bone to the studding on western-style denim shirts and leather jackets at William Rast and shrapnel-like mounds of metal adorning the shoulders and lining the lapels of Z Zegna trench coats, heavy metal was the embellishment of the season. G-Star took the theme further, with metallic-looking pieces that resembled steel plates riveted together.

Fight club

Designers were spoiling for a fight this season, sending out collections that seemed designed to do battle against marauding martial artists, swordsmen and snipers (Rag & Bone had tied-leg "ninja pants," fencing jackets and a curiously labeled "bullet-proof tux shirt"). Z Zegna evoked the feeling of chain mail with handmade silk filament knits, and Calvin Klein's futuristic-looking molded nylon jackets appeared solid enough to defend the corner office against encroaching Stormtroopers.

Blaze of orange

Once confined to danger zones, road cones and hunting vests, this borderline neon shade of orange has become one of the season's standout accent colors. The blaze burned bright first at Duckie Brown on shearling gloves, pompom hats and heavy waxed jackets, and later in the week at Michael Kors with turtlenecks, scarves and even neckties. It flared up on various runways in between, including Marc by Marc Jacobs' Fair Isle sweater and Y-3 by Yohji Yamamoto's heavy, quilted jacket.

Getting closure

Winter wear always comes with more than its fair share of snaps, zippers, buckles and closures, but this time, designers seemed to emphasize the idea of battening down the hatches by employing lots of zippers, ties, buttons, snaps and hooks. Monarchy Collection zipped up waistcoats and buttoned up double-breasted jackets, and at Trovata, toggle buttons and contrast-leather cuff buckles adorned wool car coats.

A new high-end clothing line called 1909 Victorinox, from the same folks who gave the world the original Swiss Army knife, was full of hardware, including zipper pleats that ran up the arms and down the backs of technical-looking jackets, belts that latched with solid metal hooks, trousers that cinched tight at the ankle and zipper pulls inspired by the classic pocketknife itself.


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