Men Have More Fun at Fashion Shows

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Yesterday, I went to the Burberry show in Kensington Gardens. It was in a tent with a clear roof and open sides, and it was an extremely perfect summer afternoon — all puffy white clouds, bright-blue skies, and Pimm's cups served on a slightly overgrown lawn. I don't go to loads of men's fashion shows, so when I do, I inevitably wind up spending some amount of time assessing the ways in which they are different from women's shows.

There are the immediately obvious ways: They are much smaller, slightly less frantic; there are fewer celebrities; and there is less anticipation of what's to come. Men's fashion, after all, is a study in either nuance or theater; men just don't dress with the same level of variety or drama as women, so watching a men's show becomes either about studying a hem or a cuff or a fabric or sitting back to enjoy a spectacle of styling and mood setting that bears little relationship to actual clothes.

The men at Burberry yesterday didn't look clownish or absurd in their often-monochromatic layers of flat-fronted trousers and trench coats (one of my big men's shows fears). They looked really good, and the clothes looked well made and correct, and it was easy to unpack them from their styling and imagine them on a huge range of people living a huge range of lives. And so: success!

Walking out into the bright afternoon, enjoying the reasonableness of the crowd, it struck me that the biggest difference is the anxiety level in the room, so much of which comes from the audience. The men don't seem as stressed, and don't radiate the same sense of judgment or self-flagellation as their female counterparts. There's just as much grooming, with no absence of preening, expensive accessories, or well-buffed nails, but there is a mellower vibe — looking at men will just never carry the same kind of freight, even when the runway's the same.

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