Mostly Charming Moments

MCM SS 2014 G1

The logo-heavy MCM backpacks are ubiquitous these days, but not many carrying the typically SGD 1,000 bags are aware that the brand has a ready-to-wear line. This afternoon, two mini-skirted women at the opening of the MCM boutique at Marina Bay Sands—Singapore’s first—were overheard asking, “Since when did they sell clothes?”

Shortly after their re-launch in 2005, MCM offered some garments, mostly outerwear, but these were always second fiddle to their hugely successful bags. During last year’s Men’s Fashion Week, a full Autumn/Winter 2013 ready-to-wear line was unveiled for what was then believed to be the first time. The jazzed-up basics that were shown seemed to be targeted at the CBD crowd with a desperate need to look cool for the weekend: double-breasted suits, college jackets, hooded shirts, floaty dresses, many trench-coats. To add design heft, there were leather jackets (studded, of course!), and for design dash, leopard spots, zebra stripes, and snake skin, all brought together with a happy nod to brash American style.

What a difference a year makes. For Spring/Summer 2014, the direction seemed to have taken a different turn, possibly so as to return to its European roots. But as more were revealed, you could not resist wondering if they were co-designed by members of a K-pop band. More so when in attendance was Rain.

For a moment, the show threatened to be overshadowed by the presence of Rain, a misnomer of a name since precipitation usually drives people away. But the Korean star had quite the opposite effect. He had earlier made a very brief and un-dramatic appearance at the opening of the MCM boutique, but now, in the front row, attracted the attention of photographers who shoot stars for a living than for Instagram, and a fairly large gaggle of paying young fans. (On Facebook an hour and a half after the show, an Indah Mayasai posted “that will be the best Fashion Week event ever, and that’s because of Rain”.)

MCM SS 2014 G2

For those who did not care if Rain was downpour or star, the show was an opportunity for a close-up of MCM expanding beyond its leather goods beginning. If those studs on the logo-ed bags could be used as a gauge, the ready-to-wear line was not going to be a whisper above a hush. Throughout the collection (touted as “Flower Boys in Paradise”!), full blooms were a recurrent motif, an apt companion to the brand’s omnipresent beribboned laurel leaves. There was a certain prettiness, especially with the floral prints against white, but there was something perverse too.

The skinny pants with multiple horizontal buckled straps—the top-most ones positioned so high up the thigh that, from the rear, they clearly underscored the roundness of the wearer’s buttocks—seemed to target stage performers inclined to a hip hop repertoire or attendees of fashion weeks who must be the sideshow or those clever few who can see the hidden link between bondage and blossoms.

Kink aside, unlike what was shown here last year, the clothes revealed a technical aspect that reflected vigour at MCM’s design studio, particularly the team’s flair for tailoring. Despite the sometimes heavy-handed details, there were no discernible slip-ups in the construction of the jackets and outerwear (which were plentiful). The respect for classic forms was evident yet there, too, were consideration for forward-thinking innovation. In this respect, it was not surprising that the men’s wear was stronger than the women’s, which seemed too often to target the off-duty Rihanna.

It couldn’t be ascertained if this unexpected show of strength had to do with the chief creative director Adrian Margelist, (re)appointed only in January this year. The flower boys this evening was interesting to see. However, even the best garden needs pruning: a snip here, a trim there. In paradise, excess is not heavenly.

Fashion Week 2013 is staged at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre Hall F from now till 19 October

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