There was a time when men's red carpet fashion was synonymous with old school tuxedos and suits. Quintessentially bespoke and aligning with the spirit of the Savile Row tailoring, the suit at a fashion's night out symbolised elegance and simplicity. Picture a young Tom Cruise arriving in a tux at the Golden Globes or Brad Pitt in a black tie attire at Cannes. While the silver screen goddesses would be rocking floor-sweeping gowns and fluttery cocktail dresses, men were happy to be in muted blacks, pale greys, pristine whites and midnight blues. Also, men's overall styling was decidedly pared-back, clean and minimal. Maybe a pair of sunglasses or a diamond watch to finish off the monochromatic ensembles.
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Cut to the present, when the likes of singers Maluma and Nick Jonas, and actors Dan Levy and Jake Gyllenhaal have warmed up to tailoring in striking tones, from mauve to cobalt blue. At the Oscars last year, Leslie Odom Jr. collaborated with stylist Avo Yermagyan to create a bespoke Brioni suit, which was threaded with real 24-karat gold. Justin Bieber also leaned in favour of off-kilter tailoring with his choice of attire at the September Met Gala. He offset a pair of wide-legged trousers with a cropped blazer from his own label, Maison Drew. Even singer Shawn Mendes looked chic in a monochrome relaxed fit suit which he wore over a tank top. At the Brit Awards 2021, Harry Styles looked sensational in a retro print Gucci suit worn with 70s style flared trousers and a Bamboo bag. The list is long.
Back home, celebrities are also trying to push the envelope. Actor Ranveer Singh, for instance, has been rewriting rules in subversive suit styling for some time now. From shirtless suiting to layering his blazers with necklaces, he's pushed the menswear codes with almost each outing.
"A statement suit has made its way to the top of the wish list of the well dressed. It is not limited by gender and has long surpassed its classical, more formal iteration. Today we see brides in sharply tailored jackets and the men of the moment in pastel hued blazer co-ord sets. The suit is truly living its moment," says designer Hemant Sagar of Genes Lecoanet Hemant.
Crafted in luxe velvet and embroidered with three dimensional elements, they are a nod to the indulgent style of dressing that has become a hit during the depressing pandemic era. "We move on to more casual interpretations, where the suit set plays canvas to abstract artistic prints. The icy landscape finds a voice in the jackets and the result is a visually arresting ensemble. It can be styled in many ways. Layer it over a classic tee or the signature crisp poplin for a more sartorial essence," adds Sagar.
The question, though, remains: is tailoring going topsy-turvy?
"Today’s suits are turning to couture. The more unique the handwork, the innovative surface ornamentation, the off-beat silhouettes, the better. Red carpets, before omicron hit us, were seeing men step up the tuxedo and inspiring grooms to take it up a notch with their personal style. Power lapels are always a go-to for many, so seeing them being embraced in the relatively safer menswear realm speaks of a strong future for the neoteric man. We’re seeing a lot of jewellery being included in styling, with personal style references from the wearer, which makes it a great conversational piece for breaking archaic barriers," says Sandeep Gonsalves, founder of the label Sarah & Sandeep.
A fresh approach
Needless to say that the once static menswear space is thankfully cutting loose and is no longer chained by mundane dated elements.
"Celebrities make and uplift iconic looks due to which design houses choose to dress them. This helps translate a brand’s design ideology. A suit is a timeless classic silhouette and creating variations of it by using different design elements is the best way to innovate. Fabric and texture manipulations with accessories are time-tested methods to modernise this quintessential garment structure," says designer Kunal Anil Tanna.
Recently designer Tarun Tahiliani showcased Tasva, an accessible, approachable menswear label in Varanasi, featuring a pared-back, edited approach to traditional menswear styling. From cropped bandis and knee-length waistcoats to lightweight sherwanis and free-flowing kurtas, realised in brocade, jacquard and khadi and all peppered with tone-on-tone embroidery and texturing. "Tasva means all that is me, all that is mine. Of course it caters to the millennials, but it has offerings for everyone - from young to old," says Tahiliani.
Actor-model Amit Ranjan observes that modern day tailoring resonates with the changing sartorial philosophy of individualistic dressing. "Designers and stylists have made the suit more democratic by breaking it up and mixing with separates like the safari blazer or a crew neck tee. I personally love Harry's style. Gucci has given us a male version of Twiggy," he says.
Model T.J. Gill, too, prefers the Harry Styles school of suit pairing. "Whether it's Gucci's 70 style printed suit or Valentino's tone-on-tone ensemble, I'd wear it with either a pair of sneakers or Chelsea boots and accessorise with a handbag. If I were to leave the jacket open, I'd wear a crop top inside or something sheer with multiple necklaces," Gill says.
The likes of Styles, Maluma and Timothee Chalamet have made gender-fluid dressing rather mainstream and it's no longer about the dated gay, straight or trans categories. One's sexual preferences are no longer defined by one's sartorial picks.
Model Gagandeep Plaha, known for a gender fluid personal style, is upbeat about the suit's modern iterations, which lends scope for fun styling. "Personally I love pairing a suit with a corset instead of a shirt and layered chains," he says.
From broken tailoring to inculcation of strappy details to addition of zipper accents and embellishments, suiting today is anything but classic and formal.