If there’s one thing the fashion world should steal from cult menswear brands, it’s the perfectly executed lookbook. The drop of a Supreme, Noah, or Aime Leon Dore lookbook is like an international holiday, with characters and themes and locations we know and love. Fans of those brands pore over lookbooks with more scrutiny than most people give a runway show, and a whole cottage industry of blogs exists just to analyze them. It’s a reminder that you can really tell a story that way, and that it can be a really efficient way to build buzz. You don’t need a fancy video or a runway show to impart your vibe.
Martine Rose—whose denim suit is worn on our October cover by the great Jonathan Majors, and who also appears on our Quality List—borrowed that trick, dropping my favorite lookbook of the season so far. A lot of designers have mused on lockdown niceties like baking bread and making pots, but Rose was thinking about sex, baby, and all kinds: webcam sex, Zoom flirting, FaceTime liasons. We’re physically further apart than ever before, but technology has made us intimate in all these strange new alien ways. She set up a makeshift webcam studio, casting professional webcam guys as her models; in the images, behind the models, other guys lounge on sofas as if they’re about to go live, perch on toilets clutching laptops, or stand with trou fully dropped with iPad in hand. Cheeky! One model wears a silky little camisole with jeans, and a few of them have lacy underpinnings layered over the waistbands of their jeans; even the silky soccer jerseys have the sexy swish of unmentionables.
Rose is one of the designers most responsible for the oversize trend in clothing and outerwear, and she has a masterful hand for making jackets big and long but not idiotically giant. Here she scaled her proportions back a bit, so her trenches, flight jackets, robe coats (oh yeah) and a lavish chocolate croc trucker jacket were more, and these are technical terms, bow-chicka-wow-wow than ahooogha. It’s nice to see Rose in this new mode. Her skinny, slightly belled trousers are some of the best pants this season, and one of her nicest jackets, in fact, was a little too shrunken, with the buttons popping open—in flagrante tailorecto! (I told you: bow-chicka-wow-wow!)
Rose belongs to the universe of cool designers who have the gnarly or bratty little attitude of streetwear but are decidedly high fashion—her peers include Balenciaga (where she was Demna Gvasalia’s longtime menswear consigliere), Vetements, Y/Project, and even Palace, at times. But Rose’s work isn’t icy; it never seems as if it’s trolling you. (I have a feeling she’s really about to take over: she makes what should be the world’s next big fashion fleece, not to mention a glittery knit that reads, “Martine Rose: Expect Perfection.” So good!) She has the best sense of humor in fashion: sly and clever, cool in the way a marketing conglomerate could never fake but always tries to. The clothes are almost kind of romantic; you never feel like they’re making fun of you. Instead, they’re clothes to have fun in—and in the case of this collection, it would seem, to have fun taking off.