The conventional wisdom has always been that there were only so many things a designer could do with a shirt — it still needed two armholes, after all. Not so much any more.
One thing that designers both here and back in New York have taken on is the challenge of turning a simple white shirt into something not quite so basic. Surely next season’s “Project Runway” will bring a white-shirt-challenge.
Fashion has a long history of deconstruction, but all eyes seem to be focused on the possibilities in this particular workhorse garment. The design cooperative Vetements expanded plain old shirts to Brobdingnagian proportions. Monte built a brand, in part, by experimenting with men’s shirting, until a button-down was more like an enormous origami project. And this week, designer Sebastien Meunier turned the Ann Demeulemeester runway into master class on white shirts and all that they can be.
He manipulated them into halters and aprons and tunics and dresses. He dissected them so that a white cuff hung off a black blazer or a white collar was lopped off and turned into the equivalent of a scarf. They were sexy togas, prim high collars and odes to déshabillé.
They were all a reminder that the wonder of fashion design isn’t always about whole-cloth invention. Sometimes, it’s simply the ability to see fresh beauty in the mundane.
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