Straight jacket

Time waits for no man, and neither does fashion. Celebrated designer Giorgio Armani describes the evolution of the male wardrobe, and the special place it holds for the jacket.
     Print Edition: Sep 14, 2014
Straight jacket
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Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani
Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani
My new collection is dedicated to exploring the universe and style of tailored jackets. I believe jackets are an essential that every man should have in his wardrobe, whatever may be his lifestyle , the season or the place he lives. My own adventure in fashion started with the deconstruction of jackets, no longer understood as a stiff uniform to be worn passively but as an item in which men can move freely and identify with.

The evolution of my own style can be seen more clearly from how jackets have changed. The basic idea has remained the same over the years - to create a physically and metaphorically soft item that is comfortable, and makes the wearer feel confident. It's the fabrics, proportions and cuts that have changed over time, because true innovation in fashion happens through techniques.

A well-fit double breasted masterpiece from Gucci
A well-fit double breasted masterpiece from Gucci
My new jackets feature raglan shoulders that make them cling to the body like a loose, soft cardigan; they are made from lightweight, mellow-coloured fabrics, using innovative techniques such as raw edges and heat-welded seams. While these jackets are comfortable and light, they - at the same time - give men poise and elegance. It is a very fine balance that requires detailed study, but it deeply inspires me.

Men's style has evolved significantly over the years, moving toward increasing informality. And this was an inevitable aspect indeed, given the way it reflects how customs and rules have softened with the passage of time.

If you ask me, I think the strongest trend in fashion today is moving precisely in this direction, which is to combine comfort and elegance. This would explain the preponderance of shirts and essential lines, the taste for special textures combined with pure and perfect design.

Gone are the days of eccentricity at all costs. There is a desire for redesigned, classical lines that are not stiff, but equally far from any laxity of style. To me, focusing on jackets means to respond to this widespread need. A jacket is the one item in a man's wardrobe that really suits all kinds of situations. For instance, it can be worn over a sweater for a relaxed look, or over a white shirt to earn that dignified allure I consider timeless.

A pair of trousers with new volumes and carefully chosen accessories will complete the perfect look.

THE MILITARY CONNECTION

The tailored men's jacket has long been the favoured testing ground for Giorgio Armani, and the developments he has pioneered through his work on this staple of the male wardrobe speak not only of changes in form, but also in custom.

A relaxed single-breasted jacket from Louis Vuitton
A relaxed single-breasted jacket from Louis Vuitton
For many years now, the designer's approach has been that of deconstruction - he liberates the jacket from the padding that stiffens it, giving it flowing lines that lend ease of movement, comfort and panache. The fabrics are soft, and new blends and weaves allow for amazing results in terms of lightness and performance. As the modern man becomes progressively aware of his physique and starts expressing a physical dynamism, the Armani jacket turns into a second skin that can be worn without effort.

This approach has led to the development of the new raglan jacket in Armani's autumn/winter 2014-15 collection for men. Notably, after years of dominance of the single-breasted jacket, the double-breasted jacket has made a comeback - it's long and slim with eight buttons, and not at all restrictive.

The new jacket features raglan sleeves - adapted from military wear - and the cut does not include anchor points on the shoulder, giving it maximum freedom of movement. The shoulders are padding-free; they mould to the figure and follow its shape. Without a breast pocket and devoid of every non-functional detail, this baby is like a tailored cardigan.

Now, this gives dressing up to combat the winter a whole new meaning, doesn't it?

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