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Yee-haa! Men’s Americana looks for autumn/winter 14

Cue the harmonicas, Americana’s back and it means business, y’all. For autumn/winter 14, men’s designers are getting their cowboy cool on and have gone all out in the land of opportunity. Whether referencing the Wild West or the Midwest, tongue-in-cheek and more intellectual tributes to the U, S of A were aplenty on the European catwalks at the men’s shows, confirming that old prairie saying, ‘A cowboy’s work is never done’. This autumn, the men of the world – Yankees or not – will be saddling up for something of a jamboree through the trademarks of the pioneers, gold-rushers, freedom fighters and eternal dreamers of God’s chosen nation where men are men (even in chaps and fancy hats) and clothes – like anything in America – are just a little bit bigger and better. Howdy pard’, and welcome to the return of Americana.

Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Mitchell Sams

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  • Astrid Andersen

    What could be more American than the oversized grey tracksuit? The preferred uniform of American ghetto kids and multi-billionaire weekend shoppers alike, it’s perhaps the most worn casual sportswear item of a nation that really loves its comfortable cool. Astrid Andersen isn’t at all American, but somehow the Dane manages to capture the essence of the country across the Atlantic to a T. Any collection Andersen does has its roots in American sports and streetwear, so when i-D talked her to her after the show, it was more about attitude than influence. “I wanted the colours and the fabrics to feel quite sensitive and have that kind of feminine feel, but I wanted the guys to be more aggressive,” she said of her collection, which drew on what she called the “brutal elegance” of Only God Forgives, which, coincidentally, is directed by a Dane who lives in America. All comes full circle.

    Astrid Andersen

  • 3.1 Phillip Lim

    It took so much self-discipline not picking the look with the horse head print jumper and the yellow leather trousers with the spats, but alas this ensemble embodied the American feel of the 3.1. Phillip Lim collection to a greater extent. A leather trouser with a distinctly Western-y leather shirt, Lim’s all-leather look – a pricelessly American thing in itself, really – even had a prairie outlaw scarf to tie it all together, and with white shoes that took us to Miami and the mirror-effect Linda Farrow sunglasses that took us to L.A. all in one sweeping exit, there was patriotic American pride all over the place. Other Americana elements in the Phillip Lim collection included geometrical triangle shirts (straight out of the rodeo), shirts with symmetrical floral prints (straight out of the rhinestone cowboy rodeo), and a drawstring denim cape that wouldn’t have looked out of place on John Wayne.

    3.1 Phillip Lim

  • Versace

    This guy in his Versace chaps is the gift that keeps giving, and although there are plenty other looks from the collection that would illustrate Donatella’s Americana to perfection, publishing this picture again is a chance that cannot be passed up. Bet the guy thought it was a kind of a bummer having to wear the bulgy chaps looks, but little did he know it would make him the most featured model of the season. “I love rebels. I always have done,” Donatella told i-D after the show. “I started thinking about cowboys, the true outlaws, but then I didn’t want to just be looking at the past. I was thinking about outlaws today, and for me that is the biker. I wanted to bring these two worlds together.” With a collection with enough embellished denim and leather to make Elvis Presley swoon, and fringing, rodeo baroque swirls and leather codpieces to make a cowboy’s heart beat faster, Donatella delivered the most impressive Americana collection of the season. Yippee ki-yay, y’all!

    Photography Mitchell Sams

  • Kenzo

    Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave? Yup, and at Kenzo, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon tackled the Midwestern values of their homeland. ‘Dream, work hard, and accomplish’ could have been the slogan for this workingman’s look, which – stop us if we’re reading too much into this – seemingly reflected the proud uniformity of the Midwest. Social studies aside, Lim and Leon worked a bunch of American trademarks into their collection, drawing on the townscapes of the modern Great Plains. "We’re really kind of taking these very recognisable things and giving them different shape. A lot of them were inspired by really kind of classic Americana elements, whether they were diners or hotels," Leon told i-D after the show, which had an entire miniature suburb for a set.


  • Umit Benan

    For autumn/winter 14, Umit Benan had a dream. It climaxed at his bow when the effervescent designer came running out on his baseball field catwalk holding a banner that said ‘No to racism’, but there were plenty of hints and dramatic gestures to emphasise his message throughout the show. Before it started, Benan gave a—come to think of it—really rather American speech in which he thanked God and his family and revealed the inspiration for the show: Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to be accepted into the major leagues in the 40s. It materialised in the mid-century uniform of the American dream, with all the baseball jackets, tight denim, jazz suits and fedora hats it could take, and showed a different side to Americana than what other collections had offered. America, America, God shed His grace on thee!

    Umit Benan