Parnell Mooney has the perfect uniform for going out again
Inspired by military uniforms and sex-club kink, the Central Saint Martins alumna’s AW21 collection is gearing up for post-lockdown nightlife.
Images courtesy of Parnell Mooney
Power. Sex. Confidence. Those were the words that Rory Parnell Mooney kept mentioning in reference to his AW21 collection, released today as part of the first gender-fluid London Fashion Week. The Irish menswear designer was pontificating the way that clothes make us feel, the idea of lacing ourselves up in a pair of trousers, or donning a leopard number for a night beyond our doorstep. “It’s not so much ‘power dressing’, but about the power that clothes have and the difference in how you feel when you put something on, you feel good and you go out,” he explained in a preview. And he means out out, something that feels so hopeful if not entirely novel during the endless rigmarole of lockdown. “There’s a ritualistic aspect to it,” he adds. “I’ll never forget sitting with Louise Wilson in her office watching Cruising and her saying, ‘Just look at the way he’s getting dressed!’”
His new collection has a panoply of Beau Travail-inspired military khakis, eight or nine shades of sandy green that speak to the regiment and ritual of uniforms (and the homoeroticism of the army, of course) — as well as leopard-print shirts, mock python trousers and the nocturnal fetish-inspired chaps, lacing and leathers that Rory has honed as his signatures, winning the enduring support of Dua Lipa (the plethora of drawstrings make most of the pieces adaptable for whatever gender). But where Rory’s ingenuity lies is taking ostensibly quotidian basics and, in his own words, “turning up the volume”. A white t-shirt or tank top, for instance, is given a drawstring-fastened cinched silhouette, or a sculptural asymmetry courtesy of swirling straps and layered transparencies, or even a Tudor-like bare décolletage à la Anne Boleyn. Blue jeans, arguably the most archetypal of garments, are lengthened and panelled, the tobacco stitching outlining a subtle exoskeleton of underwear and darkroom chaps.
But whereas last season, Rory made every single element of his collection himself while bolted up in his studio during lockdown 1.0, this time round he was able to ramp up his production, courtesy of fittings and access to textile mills and factories. The result is a more elevated offering, like a leather bomber with stringy bow buttons, puffed-up nylon track pants, supply luxe knits and a khaki cotton coat entirely edged in eyelets. “There was a lot of wild, shiny, plastic sex stuff last season, so this time I wanted to make my version of an Hermès coat, something that feels finished with great linings,” he explains. “At the beginning, it was really about trying to get to a really elevated place, a bit more luxury — but it still fits within that same world.”
That world in question is that of delightfully kink-infused, body-confident clothes -- the kind that will get you past the bouncers at the sex clubs and cruising bars that have been shuttered since last March. Because as much as the act of getting dressed, lacing up the drawstrings and layering up outfits is a ritualistic balm filled with the promise of going out — the most exciting prospect of which is ultimately getting undressed at the end, preferably with the help of someone else.