Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Rise of the Gentleman

He is tall, smart in a crisp suit with slicked neat hair, in one hand he holds a whisky tumbler and in the other a lit cigarette. He is a man of few words and has a refined air about him which makes others gravitate towards him. Women adore him while men idolise or envy him. He is Don Draper of the hit US drama Mad Men. Part of the reason the series, now in its fourth season released on DVD this week in the UK, has received such a cult following is due to the magnetism of its main protagonists and Don, who is a rake dressed as gentleman, is the main attraction.

Since the Victorian era there has always been a fascination surrounding the elite members of civilised society also known as Gentleman, whose manners, morals and most importantly style signified their respect and status. However the days of top hats, tailcoats and calling cards have given way to the homogenisation of the Topman style troopers in their uniform of skinny jeans, graphic tees, checked shirts and sneakers. Though there is a cultural shift occurring notably in films, from Tom Fords beautifully executed A Single Man to the recent award winning The King’s Speech, and this smarter trend is in turn affecting men’s fashion. A subtle change in men’s style, such as the prevalence of the classic ‘brown’ shoe from a brogue to a derby as well as the preference of espadrilles in summer imitating timeless Riviera elegance shows a return to debonair style is beginning.

It is no coincidence that in February that the power house that is Net-a-porter launched their brother site Mr Porter as a suave destination for male appreciators of the finer things in fashion. Slick, stylish and rocking an aesthetic that more than resembles the renowned gentleman’s style magazine Fantastic Man, Mr Porter is riding on the increasing wave of male consumer spending in fashion. So what can we expect for men’s fashion in Autumn/Winter 2011 according to the catwalk reports... Bailey for Burberry was championing the dapper royal look, obviously playing on the coming royal nuptials with tailored trousers, shiny smart shoes and structured woollen coats in regal checks or sophisticated camel. Lanvin, as ever the king of elegance, presented the new subversive gent who had an air of the dandy in a tightly tailored jacket but who wore his trousers baggy with a touch of nonchalance. Elbaz wanted to introduce the young to elegance and to highlight the appeal of layering leading to mystery.

Men’s fashion is buttoning up and educating all in sophistication, long live the gent!