About Face

People often ask how designers manage to have the same ideas at the same time. Sometimes it’s obvious, perhaps there is a very influential film that captures the collective imagination and the characters or costumes gently filter in through the collections, or an art exhibit that opens a dialog about color or shape or proportion. Those are the obvious answers. But for fall 2018, I can only say that I’m stumped at how designers managed to achieve one of the most random acts of accessorizing that I’ve ever seen, and let’s just say that I’ve seen my fair share.

So without further adieu, let me introduce you to the Fashion Balaclava. Nope, this is no ordinary balaclava, this my friends is the new and stylishly improved head covering of choice for fall 2018. Yep, I just declared the Fashion Balaclava one of the most important accessories of the season. No longer the provenance of ninjas, bank robbers, and Olympic snowboarders, the Fashion Balaclava is now and will forever be bonified fashion territory.

Raf Simons for Calvin Klein showed beautiful, multi-color knitted Fashion Balaclavas that were both charming and disarming. Worn by both the girls and the boys in his line-up, many in the press referred to his collection as ‘post-apocalyptic.’ Let’s rephrase that. I’d dump the post, because we’re certainly not past it, I’d say the current state of world affairs proves we’re just getting started. Is that why he finished his looks with these curious cuckoo caps? As a matter of protection, a face-saving safety net? Maybe.

But then what of Alessandro Michele’s bold and brash Fashion Balaclava statement for Gucci? He’s not giving me end-of-the-world anxiety at all. He’s giving me a bit of multi-culturalism x ultimate geek freak chic. Can you dig it? Yes, I can. Gucci’s Fashion Balaclava’s range from full-on face-coverings that feel more than Lucha-Libre-inspired in bright contrasting colors with pom-pom flourishes to burka-esque lace styles in pretty purple shades draped in a glorious display of diamante excess to a more abbreviated (and perhaps more wearable) version that grazes the tip of the nose in what feels vaguely resemblant of the Hamburglar.

And then there’s newcomer Marine Serre who just hit the Paris runway with her third collection. Right out of the gate, Look #1 wouldn’t be complete (apparently) without a Fashion Balaclava. Cut in her signature stretch nude moon print fabric with only the eyes visible, she set the tone for her fall collection. Sleek, chic and modestly on-point.

The Fashion Balaclava is indeed a curious trend that signals something deeper brewing than just the wackiest new accessory to hit the runways. Is the underlying intent about protection, privacy, politics or merely a spot of playfulness? It could be one, or all of those things, but surely it’s a sign of the times whether we want to face it or not.






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