Tan France Explains How To Decode Fashion Week

28 August 2019
Style, Fashion, Tan France, Fashion Week
Illustration: Michael Hoeweler
A fashion awakening from GQ Middle East's resident style columnist

For the regular man of style, who might be reading GQ, or lucky enough to sit in on a fashion show, the runway can be a place that’s equally confusing and intriguing: you might walk away thinking yes, that was fun, but who on earth is going to wear that? Well, as it’s the September issue here at GQ Middle East, I feel like the time has come to demystify this ritual of the fashion world – because, despite what you might think now, there’s plenty you can get out of watching (or catching up on) the shows during Fashion Week.

First thing that I must clarify: a show isn’t meant to be wearable. Nope. It’s pitched as an idea, an aspiration of what one could be – or how one could feel in the clothing. The shows are carefully planned, designed, and executed to make a media moment – a moment that people want to see the world over. It’s a way to get the brand out into the fashion press, and the wild (and influential) west of Instagram. A woman might see an Oscar de la Renta dress – she may not purchase it, but she’ll remember it because it saturated her Instagram one morning in the summer. She might end up buying a fragrance. For a man, it could be seeing the sleek lines of a Saint Laurent look, and going on to rethink his silhouettes or purchase some classic black sunglasses.

Yes, the shows can be crazy. The outfits? They’re not meant to be something you might wear that weekend, you’re getting a notion of what life could be if you were that person, that character. You can (and should) take the elements you’re attracted to, and make them your own. That’s where the good stuff comes in.

When I watch a show, I’m not thinking, “Oh, I’ll wear that outfit head-to-toe.” I’m breaking down each look into elements, and considering each.

The French Tuck that’s become an integral part of my style signature? Well, I got that from a runway show, like 18 years ago. I don’t remember exactly which show it was, but the models were rocking a French Tuck with almost every look. It made them look taller. It made them look cooler. When, last season, I started wearing wide-leg pants again, it was a result of watching runway after runway with oversized fits. I thought the look would drown me. So, I played with the proportions and made the trend my own. These are the kinds of things you can borrow (or steal) from a runway show. It’s how you can take the fashion world’s greatest inspirations, and make them your own.

There are so many elements you can take inspiration from in a runway show. Months – sometimes years – of care have gone into creating something that might last 10 minutes. It’s as perfect a curation of trends, of a moment, as there exists, and that’s precisely why people go bananas for the shows.

Maybe you’ll get a colour story inspiration – a new palette that you hadn’t considered. Maybe the grooming on Dolce & Gabbana’s models can help you rethink your facial hair, or the finish of the hair product you use every morning. And maybe, just maybe, you think that grooming direction would really suit the kind of tailoring that Kim Jones has been putting out for Dior lately – take what you like, and make it your own, new, perfectly tailored edit.

Look, sometimes it will take a little more work than you might expect – there will be brands that don’t speak to you at all, and that’s okay. After all, these are clothes made for models with precise – and precisely ungodly – proportions. If you can’t find inspiration in the clothing itself, look to the accessories, the shapes, the colour. Let’s say that I was inspired by Gucci this season. Despite the fact that I’m not wearing much of it, my hair and colour palette could take direct inspiration from Alessandro Michele’s latest collection.

From inspiration, you only need to put in a little work to execute. This is where savvy online shopping can come into play. Maybe you’ll see that oxblood is a major colour for the season, but can’t yet find it in a mall. Google away, and find the piece that’s right for you, high or accessible fashion.

The runways aren’t here to intimidate – they’re here to inspire. Use them to your sartorial advantage. Remember, you’re not looking to recreate an identical outfit that a 6’1 model is rocking in Milan – but if you are, more power to you. No, you’re looking for your take on the moment that the style world is in. Create your vibe for the season and update your wardrobe to your exact taste. Because after all, if there’s anything that Fashion Week can teach us, it’s that a little curation goes a long, long way.