Less than a month ago, Durban’s wunderkind Terrence Bray showed his first collection on home turf, a collection of dip-dyed sorbet coloured circle cut skirts and dresses that paid homage to a classic 5o’s style glamour. It showed the designer at his softest, his most succinct. Or so we thought.
At the South Africa Menswear Week spring 17 showcase Terrence Bray takes that cultured femininity he showed at the Durban Fashion Fair and hoists it onto a menswear collection, and the results give us pause. With this collection Bray challenges what is possible and acceptable in menswear, not by creating androgynous clothing (a common route for menswear designers looking to challenge themselves) but by taking actual women’s clothing and cutting them for a male body.
How is this radically different from androgynous clothing? For one, by not changing the silhouettes Bray forces to us to scrutinize what classic female silhouettes tend to flatter and emphasize. An empire waist sleeveless camisole works just as interestingly on broad shoulders as it does svelte feminine forms. Shoulders, decolletage and bust lines are all seen from new perspectives. As are chiffon and gossamer shawl capes, embroidered blouses, cropped vests and stove pipe pants. The choice of colours for the season work to the designer’s advantage, the soft browns, blues and greys lending an extra layer of fragility to the clothes.
Exaggerated detailing criss-crosses much of the collection, worked onto necklines as sallow necklaces and embroidered onto blouses as fabric roses. If there was any problem with this collection, it would be the issue of real world function, we are far from a world where many of Bray’s pieces would pass conceptualization into real world use, and that is worrying considering the sheer number of technical pieces that simply do not pass muster. But as a theme brought to life, Bray schools us utterly on what is possible.
Terrence Bray’s man this season isn’t one who wants to break the rules, he is one who is above the rules altogether.
Simon Deiner/ SDR Photo