Friday 20 April 2018

Paul Galvin: Keep it simple

Paul Galvin

The shops may be full of bright colours and voluminous forms, but Paul Galvin prefers to pare it down -- minimal fits, in every sense

Fashion has a whole lexicon of its own which distinguishes it. Or so it likes to think. In writing or talking about it, I find myself using words I would never use in a month of Sundays, or any day of the week for that matter.

The funny thing is that while I don't understand some of the words in a literal sense, they make perfect sense to me in a fashion context.

Such as aesthetic. I had to consult my dictionary to define the word, yet I use it liberally when writing. I know when to use it and in what context.

Right now, for instance, I will say I admire a minimalist aesthetic in fashion. It has its roots in painting and refers to an era when simplicity of colour and form were central.

References to architecture are also key. I like clean lines, good tailoring and sleek silhouettes.

Of late, I can't bare to wear ties, I've never worn a watch or jewellery of any sort, I've taken to cutting the collars off my shirts if they're too big, and I've only recently started wearing belts again.

I like muted, subtle colours. I even have a thing for the soles of my shoes. I can't wear thick-soled shoes or big heels. Give me neat, slim shoes with rubber soles.

My favourite tops at the moment are deconstructed like the scrubs you would see on surgeons. They're T-shirts but have no stitching that's visible.

They're loose fitting and round necked, and the texture is tough cotton without the stretch normally associated with tees.

I've always admired the Japanese style. The skinny-jeans craze began there and they're very cutting edge in everything they do.

The Japanese influence on fashion in the 1980s heralded the arrival of minimalism to the West. Yohji Yamamoto's pared-down aesthetic brought attention to deconstructed, utilitarian separates that would stand the test of time.

He once said: "I will never ever wear a tie, not even if I am invited to see my emperor." I appreciate that approach.

Scandinavian design houses have a similar aesthetic. COS (Collection Of Style) is the better-dressed, financially better-off older brother/sister of H&M and offers very clean, minimal pieces at a higher price point.

COS womenswear is available in BT2 but unfortunately there's no menswear here yet.

ACNE is another minimalist line I like. If there's one thing Scandinavian design houses love, it's an acronym. Jonny Johansson's ACNE stands for Ambition to Create Novel Expressions.

Some of my favourite designer labels are The Kooples, Balmain, ACNE and Calvin Klein.

I'm not a lover of extraneous materials or voluminous forms. Which is a good thing, given how our collective intuition in times of economic hardship instructs us to keep it simple, subtle and low maintenance.

It seems to me that our dress sense becomes depressed like the economy we live in. We dress in sympathy with the times. We keep it simple. So while roll-ups on trousers are hardly a sign of extravagance, I still find them unnecessary and a little try-hard.

But, of course, they fit an aesthetic. One that is preppy, informal, smart casual. Think Ralph Lauren or Tommy Hilfiger.

Some people like this look. I like the preppy look generally, but not roll-ups, so if I find a pair of trousers that I like with roll-ups, I buy them and cut off the ends.

Roll-up chinos are a really big trend at the moment. River Island and Topman have led the way and chinos are more popular than ever today for young men.

The pragmatist in me says why not just wear chinos that fit properly? Taking the time to perfectly roll up my trouser legs is not a science I'm familiar with.

I've done it before but only because a roll-up is an infinitely better look than a trouser leg hanging below your shoe, dragging along the ground and posing a trip hazard.

Yes a trip hazard. Don't laugh -- I've seen it happen. Menswear should be essentially minimalist anyway. Womenswear is where you see the extravagance.

Not everywhere, of course. Raf Simons still adheres to Jil Sander's minimalist ideals. French house Maje is the same, and Donna Karan keeps it minimal in the States.

I prefer a shift dress to a maxi dress. On a woman, of course.

I prefer subtle colour to brights and monochromes to prints. Most shop windows scream with bright colours and eye-catching prints.

Zara men, with its penchant for black, sharp tailoring and slim silhouettes, is the closest you'll get.

I'm all for it. The simpler the better for me.

In fact, I've one word for the rise and rise of minimalism in fashion: fitting.

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