The Editorial: Scally Drag, Dandy & Fashion Future

The Editorial: Scally Drag, Dandy & Fashion Future

Under the header “Let’s Push Things Forward” in the current issue of i-D, Jo-Ann Furniss gorgeously summed up the uneasy tension that is men’s fashion. Her jam-packed paragraph touches on fashion’s current state of flux, and brilliantly points out that “There are two big battles to fight here: against the ‘gentleman’s wardrobe’ and ‘scally drag.’” She goes on to say she’d like to say “fuck you” to them both.

Harsh words. Count us in.

So on the eve of Pitti, as Florence’s hotels and bars are filled with international dandies and their punctilious wardrobes, Scott Schuman is likely licking his chops. Florence (especially during Pitti) doesn’t have to worry much about scally drag (unlike London and Milan), but it’s clear on a Pitti stroll through the Fortezza that the dandy paradigm has stagnated. The gentleman’s uniform has gelled around a vague mixture of midcentury, and the requisite neatly buttoned shirts, rich fabrics, formal accessories, and a subscription to Monocle. Pitti is The Sartorialist’s day in the sun. And his photos of the event’s looks are exactly the same from year to year. Yawn.

Now, gentlemanly attire is lovely up to a certain point. The return to formal elegance after decades of slop has been a much-needed swing of the pendulum back in the right direction. And the inspirations for the gentleman’s wardrobe are truly eternal: they are the bedrock of men’s fashion, and the undiluted points of departure from which all mens fashion invariably draws. Just as the Leica rangefinder’s pure, functional form has survived countless iterations (and inspired gorgeous modern interpretations like the Olympus Pen and the Fujifilm X100), classic men’s fashion is a paragon of aesthetic balance.

And just imagine how much more lovely travelling would be if the dowdy, number-crunching, cheap-suit-wearing masses of businessmen roaming the world’s airports looked more like their grandfathers and less like they just hit the bargain bin at Coin or Primark or Sears… But is a constant succession of warmed-over and refracted rehashes the most we can hope for?

Bruna Kazinoti for Quest. Somewhere beautiful between sartorial between dark, dandy and flamboyant.

Scally drag – perhaps the most beautifully succinct way to describe the over-the-top looks endemic among party kids and rampant on Lookbook (bravo, Jo-Ann) – is quite another story. It is clearly symptomatic of our copy and paste culture. We appropriate and share anything from anyone in vain attempts to rise to popularity on networks driven by “hypes” and “likes” and “reblogs.” The new and false sense of individualism social networks bring counterintuitively makes us all less unique. And, logically, since flamboyance is generally the most effective means of standing out, scally drag is the unfortunate result of the whole world resembling a giant high school.

The cacophonous visual and cultural landscape of our generation means that fashion has fewer solid fountains of influence to draw from. Generations are no longer united by one cultural wave or by one group of influential artists. Fashion, by nature is iconoclastic and rebellious, but scally drag makes clear that fashion today isn’t quite sure what it might be rebelling against. And despite its supreme connection to the zeitgeist, scally drag is just too trashy to drive fashion forward . Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Trash to trash. Shock is dead.

But to its credit, the flamboyance is a powerful fight against the almost oppressive new elegance of its gentlemanly opposite.

Earlier in her mini-rant, Jo-Ann says, “I want to see something new that completely slaps me around the face and challenges me in the men’s world; a point of view that feels like it’s coming from a new generation and not just following an older one.” She goes on to cite a tension between auteurs and brands, but it’s rather this tension between beige dandy and flamboyance that could prove most important for fashion’s future.

Vicky Trombetta. Remix and masculinity for the future.

We hope that the two poles somehow begin to look forwards, instead of simply backwards (the dandies) and narcissistically inwards (the scallies). “There needs to be something else. Masculinity is more complex than that.”

Here’s hoping for some pleasant surprises from Pitti this year.

Tag Christof – Images courtesy 2DM / Bruna Kazinoti & Vicky Trombetta