Photography: Kathleen O’Neill
What do high-waisted pants, sheer knee socks, off the shoulder tops, and puffer vests have in common? Well, they each have their place in Raun LaRose’s SS 2018 collection. The presentation, which took place during New York Fashion Week Men’s, featured a hodgepodge of everything from wide leg trousers (that appeared to be rain-resistant, or perhaps just very shiny) to short shorts (70s-inspired in length, office-friendly in material) to graphic tees (you can’t argue with the success of Vetements, I suppose).
While his preoccupation with the voluminous and eye towards street style are constants, it’s a little hard to get a handle on what LaRose’s vision is and how it’s different from that of his peers. The collection, dubbed System Down, is about technology — what it looks like, where it’s been, where it’s going, and what all that means for us. In an attempt to articulate this, LaRose collaborated with Portuguese artist Jose Chunà on graphics that hearken back to the malfunctioning computers of yesteryear. He employed fabrics with an otherworldly quality and shrouded some models in sportier versions of those iconic Matrix cloaks.
And yet, the technology connection feels pretty vague. Rather, the presentation was a bit like being inside a dark hallucination of the not-so-distant future dreamed up by the kind of person who wakes up very early to wait in line for sneaker launches. There was a fog machine. And looking at the collection now sort of feels like having an exceedingly strange dream about your office, one in which everything is normal except that your boss is inexplicably wearing booty shorts alongside his standard work attire.
That’s not to say that individual pieces aren’t enticing. It’s amusing to see the off the shoulder look, currently at peak ubiquity in womenswear, trickle into men’s fashion, and in this case, it works, even if the models don’t appear to be able to lift their arms higher than their own waists (welcome, men). LaRose also has a knack for turning a simple suit jacket into something noteworthy without sacrificing its classic appeal. I’m just not sure exactly why all these clothes are supposed to go together, or, more to the point, why men would ever want to return to wearing shorts of this length.