Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Wearing John Malkovich: A Fashion Review

One of my favorite Super Bowl ads this year was the one featuring John Malkovich. In it, Malkovich is trying to get the rights back to a website called If you go to that website, you find Malkovich's actual fashion design website. I expected his designs to be a bit crazy, much like Kanye West's fashion disasters. But in fact, many of his designs are actually quite attractive. Here is a review of some of the pieces in his Spring/Summer 2017 line.

I love the lines of this sweater. It's slightly fitted, with a dropped neckline so it can be worn over a shirt and tie, has two low front pockets, and buttons down the front, cardigan-style. This version is navy with a hint of red trim at the neck, but it is also available in ivory with black details, as well as in a non-cardigan version, which has a slightly squared-off neckline without the contrasting trim, and the same front pockets. The non-cardigan version is just a hair shorter than the cardigan. It's an elegant but casual style that works well in a work or a more casual setting.

The collection includes several jacket styles, three of which are shown above. The first style features four patch pockets with large buttons and a Mao-style collar, which according to the website can also be turned down and worn like a more traditional lapel. The jacket is nicely fitted and has beautiful seaming and topstitching details, and falls to a nice "first knuckle" length. The second style, shown here in a black-and-white pattern (which I LOVE), has a notched lapel, buttons quite high on the chest, and has three welted pockets (i.e., a finished slit-style opening). Like the first style, it is barely nipped in at the waist and skims the hips. Both styles are very tailored and sleek. The third style, however, looks to me like an oversized shirt. The notched lapel flares into a larger collar, the sleeves end in buttoned shirt-style cuffs, and the double seams down the front don't create a fitted silhouette. In fact, the side view shows how flared the the back of the jacket is. It reminds me of a poorly-fitted work jacket or even a smock. Well, as the song says, two out of three ain't bad.

Matching the above jackets, these straight-leg, flat-front pants are also beautifully tailored. These three images show three very different hem lengths, but I think all three work in different contexts. The first length, which doesn't quite touch the top of the shoe, is a very youthful and almost edgy design. The second has just a hint of a break at the ankle (a "break" is when the fabric creases instead of hanging straight down, a sign that the hem is touching the top of the foot), a more classic and formal cut. And the third is quite long, nearly reaching the floor at the heel, which gives a much more relaxed and casual effect. The linen-silk blend fabric is available in multiple colors, from classics like the black-and-white and greyed navy, to the brighter "blue heather".

The Bermuda shorts is where he loses me a little. The length is right in the middle of the knee, which seems unflattering to anyone. Traditional Bermuda shorts generally fall just above the knee. Also, this version is extremely flared, which in a crisp fabric looks uncomfortable and tends to make the wearer look slightly bowlegged. The red and blue houndstooth pattern isn't scoring any additional points, either. To his credit, the shorts are well-tailored, I just don't like the lines.

The shirts in the collection are more classically styled, but with a few tiny details that I like. The first shirt above is available in several solid colors as well as the whimsical face print shown here. The shirt has button cuffs and a single patch pocket, but the feature I really love is the barely curved collar, which lays beautifully and creates a soft line. The second shirt is a collarband style with a dropped yoke and narrow cuffs. Available in blue or white, both interestingly textured fabrics which add visual interest without being too busy.

I'm slightly less enamored with these two scarves. The blue one seems too stiff for the way it's draped, sticking out where it should lie softly, and pattern of faces along the coral one just seems odd. But kudos for designing men's dress scarves; it's a look that it growing on me and I'd like to see more of it.

The collection wraps up with a number of elegant knitted neckties. All in red, white, and blue, these knitted ties are straight and narrow, and the bottom is edged with either red or blue, a nice little finishing detail.

All in all, Malkovich's collection is crisp, businesslike but not overly formal, nicely tied together in style, and very wearable. Just skip the ugly shorts and you can look like a wealthy movie star!

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