Friday, June 24, 2011

Brothers of Arcadia-Myth and Reality

Gods do walk among us.  At the second showing of the Mugler men’s spring 2012 collection in the vast hall of the Galérie de Mineralogie, creative director Nicola Formichetti gave a straightforward explanation in his press notes, which were placed inside a 4×6 black and white catalog entitled Brothers of Arcadia.

“I was interested in the idea of fantasy, dreams, and voyeurism. I also like the idea of modern and ancient myths. So I suppose this project is a combination of the two things: there are surfers, footballers, porn stars and classical gods all rolled into one here.”

Mugler presentation Brothers of Arcadia, a mini-magazine of sorts, art directed and styled by Mugler creative director Nicola Formichetti and shot by Branislav Jankic, starring impossibly buff, often entirely nude men, chiseled as Greek gods and modeled after the same, frolicking in the surf, entwining themselves in rope, and flexing in every imaginable position. Prior to last night’s show, Mr. Formichetti released a short black and white film by photographer Branislav Jankic with exclusive music by the band Jessica 6, featuring the models Travis Cannata, Matthieu Charneau, and Justin Barnhill. It depicts muscular men frolicking in black underwear on a beach, wrestling each other or shaving one another, as well as a staged Cleopatra scene on a bed with Jessica 6 singer Nomi Ruiz. An uncensored version debuted on user generated porn site XTube yesterday. It pays tribute to fashion’s endless robbery of gay porn and its ideals of masculinity since the 1970s.

After the show, Formichetti described the full mix of inspirations that fed this collection: the fabulists of Italian cinema, Fellini and Pasolini; Japanese comics; the heroic, masculine aesthetic of Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber; sports; Greek mythology. Formichetti says, "This season, I put more of myself into it" that's a lot of oneself to cram into any collection. Accordingly, Greek gods, muscle-bound frat boys, tattooed punks, and sylph-ish male models all took their turn down the catwalk, often spattered in glitter. The first boy out sported a pair of giant bronze Iron Man arms.

Despite all the trappings, though, the collection largely boils down to salable items: stonewashed skinny jeans, pleated shorts, T-shirts, swimwear. Formichetti spoke of doing something "a little more real," but the danger is, without the theatrics, they may also look a little more ho-hum. The strongest bits here coupled wearability with oddity, like the bifurcated tailored jackets that opened the show. Sliced open at the waist, their top and bottom halves held together by a strip of transparent latex shot through with a rip-cord drawstring, they married old and new. So did the green glow that surrounded the show—from the lighting to the collection's palette—an acidic, minty shade. "That green represented the blood of the digital era," Formichetti said. "If this technology has a kind of color, for me it was a neon green." Arcadia, electrified.

Provocations aside, whether on film or on runway, the show was grounded in reality–see the commercial viability of the new swim line. After all, in today’s fashion, it really does take an Olympian god to sell a pair of stretch lycra bikini briefs.

Mugler Men's Spring 2012 Collection

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