Menswear of the Millenium: Who Gets Your Vote?

November 23, 2009
When I’m not reading (read: trying to somehow comprehend the academic parlance of) André Bazin and Laura Mulvey, watching countless films, or engaging in alcohol-fuelled antics (the only remedy for hours of studying linguistics and structuralism, I find), I write for the college newspaper’s cultural supplement – tn2. The sweet and all-round-wonder-woman, Ana K of Ripped Knees does likewise, but it’s the equally lovely editor Patrice who posed a question that surprisingly stopped me in my essay-writing tracks last week…
“Who is the most influential menswear designer of the last decade?”. I was genuinely flummoxed at my indecisiveness. I mean, I know it’s difficult to give one definitive answer to these questions but I really couldn’t settle this time ’round.

Of course, I had to answer. It would have to be a name that was instantly recognisable for most, a designer that not only produced top collections but also exercised considerable influence on the evolution of fashion throughout the last decade. I was bloody clueless.

I had narrowed it down to two: Christophery Bailey of Burberry Prorsum fame, and Raf Simons (do check out his new site, pretty epic). In hindsight I might’ve also thrown Alexander McQueen, Hedi Slimane and Ann Demeuelmeester into the mix. In the end, it was Raf Simons. And now I’m not entirely sure why. I suppose it was something to do with his strong, angular cuts, generally futuristic formal innovation, work for Jil Sander and various collabs. But, were I to have given a more accurate answer it would have of course been Hedi Slimane whose skinny silhouettes and underground rock ambience so revolutionised menswear for the new millenium.

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^ Raf Simons AW09

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^ Raf Simons SS09

NBD babez, as they say, Raf is still a dab hand.

PS. Who would you have chosen? Despite writing a blog on the topic, I’m not exactly an authority on menswear (you might have gathered this…).

Images from GQ

  • Chris - November 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    My answer would directly be Hedi Slimane, and you've already said why – the proposal he made for the male silhouette had an gigantic impact on the last decade's menswear.I wouldn't mention Raf Simons and Ann Demeulemeester as the "most impacting" designers of the last decade though – even though I really love their work, Ann D being one of my favorite designers. Their work is exquisite yet had much less impact on the general menswear than Hedi Slimane, for instance.

  • Mat November 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    what a question to be tackling on your paper. the first two names that popped into my head was mcqueen and simons but i quickly discarded the first (not sure any huge reason but more that simons has influenced more i'd say, in turns of other brands, style and ideas trickling down to the main mainstream.though i guess Hedi Slimane did have the whole skinny sil thing going on……… close to call

  • 00o00 November 23, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    I wanted say hedi too. He changed the whole shape and silhoutte ( did I spell correctly iPhone no spell check). Btw your blog looks great on the iPhone nice layout 😉

  • IAMTHEANGELNEGRO November 24, 2009 at 2:30 am


  • Richard Kilroy November 25, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    yeah hedi, not only to do with clothing but generally the influence on male model casting, we wouldn't have our coles, joshes, lukes and ashes without him

  • DOMM November 25, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    My first thought when I saw the title on my RSS feed was either Hedi or Raf.By the time the page loaded (hey, i've got slow internet), I was pretty sure the only possible answer is Hedi Slimane.The reason however, wouldnt be the slim-jean craze as it's been mentioned.One, because even if he was given all the credit for it, it is arguable that he really started it (Raf had done it not so long before)Two, because what I think Hedi was most successful at, was building an entire "lifestyle" brand out of Dior Monsieur. Dior Monsieur at that time sounded more like licensed scarves and ties rather than a serious fashion label. A bit like gucci had been before TF was at the helm; "a pair of loafers"So in comes young Slimane, after tremendous success at Saint Laurent, and he makes the mainstream want to go indie, and more astonishingly, also the other way around.In only a few years he established a clearly focused idea of who the cool Dior Homme was, what music he listened to, where he lived, the girls he'd hang out with, what he wore to work, out at night, to bed… (one of the keys to his look was also that one sole outfit would fit all three purposes most of the time)Being able to do this goes beyond the beauty of the designer's creations (which by the way, they were beautiful).It's not a matter of your "trend" being spot on every season, it's a question of identifying a key look, a mood… then taking the concept and being able to expand it to every aspect of the target-point's life (clothes, luggage, candles, toothbrushes, sunglasses, shoes, guitars…)very few people have the sensibility to do this while either not looking stupid at it (there may be Loewe golf balls, but seriously.. what's the point?) or becoming caricaturesque. Just for the record: if I was to give best womenswear designer of the decade, i'd probably say Raf… but that's a whole different story.