Monday, January 25, 2016

BEAUTY: Clothing--Umit Benan

Turkish designer Umit Benan must have a lot of testosterone. His collections are always so masculine, and generally not in a stereotypical way, but in a basic, ballsy sort of way. Benan first came to my attention in 2011 with his SS '11 collection "Home Sweet Home" based on the look of taxi drivers in Istanbul who hang out in cafes, playing board games, and drinking rocket-fueled coffee, seen here. Next he showed a FW '12-'13 collection full of military-inspired pieces in a theatrical version of an Army barracks complete with naked soldiers showering and men getting tattooed live on stage, seen in the video at the bottom of this post here. He created another homage to the Turkish man in the video at the end of this post here. Another paramilitary look--this one based on Cuban Communist revolutionaries--infused his SS '16 collection with more manliness, seen here. Even during his brief time as creative director at Trussardi, he managed to conjure up the spirit of high performance Formula One racing and the swaggering spirit of racer Jackie Stewart, seen here.

So it is no surprise that he would explore another traditionally masculine arena like martial arts. What sealed the deal for him was that on his 16--yes, SIXTEEN trips to Tokyo ("I’ve been to Japan some 16 times last year — it’s my biggest market," Benan told WWD), he saw students at a martial arts school wearing their gear on the street once classes had finished. Thus "Tokyo Diaries," this FW '16-'17 collection at Paris Fashion Week was born. It is a fun, slick idea to turn karategi and judogi (the Japanese name for the traditional uniform used for Karate and Judo practice and competition) into casual, daily clothing. The original pieces are loose and comfortable so translating them into everyday wear seems natural. Here Benan shows us the jacket in an oatmeal tweed, a jacquard, denim, leather, and a midnight blue corduroy! Loose trousers or skirts fit right in. The classic "black belt" is used as a literal belt, and the iconic Japanese crane motif shows up on shirts. And kudos to Benan for his continued use of the mature model. For this show, he did some street casting--apparently, some recruited right off the rue only hours before the show!

And in a final--and might I say inappropriate--over-the-top coup of testosterone, the show unfolded around a traditional low table where a group of men practiced the ancient Japanese custom of eating sushi off a naked woman’s body. Its cringeworthiness must be a form of irony, no?

No comments: