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Good Looking: Coming Clean

When it comes to men's grooming, scruff has been replaced by smart, as an elegant new aesthetic emerges.

At the recent men’s spring collections, designers agreed that it was time to shave off the models’ trendy retro beards and present their wares on men with a freshly barbered look. Within that refreshing trend, two major—and contrasting—hairstyle options emerged: the fringe and, its opposite, the slick.

One of the most directional fringe styles was seen at Jil Sander, where designer Raf Simons kicked off the spring season with a multicolored collection shown at an old-style imperial Italian villa. The models’ textured hair matched accordingly. The longer fringe, with a slight curl over the forehead, was the 2011 incarnation of the Julius Caesar cut, also known as the Regency hairstyle. Brands such as Burberry, Gucci and Neil Barrett also went for the Roman emperor’s look.

Phillip Lim drew inspiration from classic icons such as Steve McQueen to create a modern-dandy sensibility. “The look is about a guy with a fresh-faced naïve allure and an effortless rocker edge,” says Laurent Philippon of Bumble and bumble, the hairstylist who created the look. “Phillip envisions a man who is cool and sophisticated, youthful and rebellious, confident in his ways—some even say cocky.” This effortless rocker look featured a matte-textured long fringe, cropped on the sides with a low side part. Volume on top, together with the soft wave featuring depth and separation, created the desired soft-rebel effect.

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At Viktor & Rolf, beach fringe was the look du jour. “We thought of the Forties film star very dressed up, but on the beach,” said Viktor Horsting backstage at the show. The multilayered and extreme textured fringe, executed with a precise and controlled styling, conjured a beachy yet elegant hairdo. Within this coastal bohemian sensibility, a subliminal longer-hair trend appeared. John Varvatos executed the look to perfection with a soft romantic rocker attitude that felt elegant and fresh while maintaining a masculine street credibility.

On the slick side landed designers such as Duckie Brown and Emporio Armani. “We wanted to exercise restraint and control by having a superclean slick-hair look that showed the minimalism and modernism direction of the spring collection,” said Duckie Brown designers Steven Cox and Daniel Silver, when asked about the hair inspiration for the show. They described it this way: “A pure thing, tight to the scalp and swept off the face to show the models’ angular features.” Their slick style included a dramatic classic part that complemented the designers’ experimentation with volume and proportions.

Ann Demeulemeester and Emporio Armani displayed the most severe slick, glossy styles, channeling edgy military influences for their shows. Demeulemeester’s obsession with pulchritude led to a show of lean and spotless uniform-inspired silhouettes in which the extreme coiffed hair emphasized the overall regimented, minimalistic collection. At Emporio, Armani spiced things up with a display of risqué black leather military attire that, together with blue eye shadow and drastic gelled-back hair, made for quite a spectacle.