Dubai, UAE, August 5, 2017: Overwhelming in their prominence, full of secrets and unknown inhabitants, harsh to those who wish to conquer them, mountains have long stood for the seduction of the sublime. Reaching towards the heavens, man’s aspiration towards the transcendental focusses on these tips of our earth as a locus of spirituality. Taking inspiration from both the mystical power and natural beauty of these peaks, the images and processes used in this collection evolved from Kean Etro’s fascination with mountains as the border between the realms of the temporal and fantastical. This autumn, Kean Etro asks you to join him on an ascent to the summit, with a menswear collection inspired by the myths and legends of the world’s mountains.
Materials this season are the product of free experimentation with a focus on rich tactile sensation. Lushly soft velvets have been subject to heavy printing, imbuing their garments with, in the case of a chevron printed hooded jacket, an exoskeleton-like quality. A similar process allows a floral coat and trouser ensemble a rough touch that almost undermines the classic luxury of the textile. Impossibly soft wool jumpers are dyed with Shibori-style Japanese tie-dye, resulting in patterns and lines that resemble Barnett Newman paintings. Sumptuous, long wool coats are printed with foliage motifs, which are created using an innovative earth-based colouring derived from clay - fully realising the passionate, imperfect naturalness of this collection.
As a counterweight to the more organic processes, nylon outerwear - pullovers, water-resistant parkas and trousers - have been photo printed with a mélange of images that are key to the narrative of the season. Cheeky bears, wise wolves and regal bucks - all mountain dwellers - make appearances on the backs, pockets and inner linings of the garments. They are trusted friends and familiar characters that have been present in the work of Kean Etro for many years. Feather motifs, in lurex lamé, swirl and flourish across sheer pullovers and tailored blazers, the result of a loose weaving technique purposefully designed to age with grace as they’re worn and moved in.
The silhouettes reach, in equal measure, towards technical innovation and traditional tailoring. Double breasted jackets and long, kimono-style coats are fastened with buckles, and shoulders are covered in ripstop waterproof fabric, a material typically found in parachutes. While loose, patch-worked nylon trousers are adorned with zippers or elastic drawstrings at the ankles and knees that allow volumes to be manipulated at will. Velvet dévoré has been fabricated with nylon to create a suiting that is flexible and soft, yet impeccably tailored. Short padded vests, in the classic Etro paisley, receive the dévoré treatment as well. Highlander-inspired kilts in plaid and houndstooth were designed as a nod to the collection’s mountain-inspired theme.
Bright backpacks and high-tech hiking boots round out the collection, all a mix of fabrics found throughout the rest of the pieces - like matelassé quilting techniques on a shoe’s upper. Fabric typically used for neckties, woven tighter than normal to aid in water resistance, is used for the panels of a backpack, which is complete with small chanting bells to aid one’s ascent to the peak. Patchwork sleeping bags are worn as capes and are warm enough to fall asleep in under the stars on a mountain top. Fantastic paisley printed skis and snowboards are offered as the climax of the presentation. “The only kind a Sherpa or a monk would use,” assures Kean Etro.