Matthew Miller Spring/Summer 2016 Menswear
One of the most striking outfits in Matthew Miller’s Spring presentation featured a smartly tailored blazer over a linen tunic that hung in shredded tatters. Miller said that was how he felt after two months of writing a business plan to submit to the BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund. (Patrick Grant of E. Tautz was the eventual winner.) “Writing and writing and writing,” Miller groaned. “And I’m not a writer.” By the end of it all he was, he insisted, in a destructive mood. But none of that came through in the collection he showed today, aside from the odd tatter and Jehnny Beth savagely declaiming “Don’t let the fuckers get you down” against an aural mesh of chainsaw guitars.
Miller never met a manifesto he didn’t like. His new keywords were conform/control/constrict, reflecting his state of mind when he was designing the clothes. But where he’d once have attached the actual words themselves to the looks—clothing as confrontation—here he dialed down the aggression, choosing instead to convey his mood through fabrics. Cotton was double-bonded with a metal alloy to create a perma-crinkle. Linen was perma-creased to match. Miller liked the idea that they somehow twisted around the body, contorting it. So when he tailored the most conventional pieces from the materials—a suit, a coat, a jacket, pants, a shift—he was actually subverting them. But before the subversion, he offered his own version of the items that in his mind represented the constriction of all that time he spent working on his business plan: dark suit, white shirt, narrow tie, and big black oxfords by Robert Clergerie. A business uniform, in other words.
If it all sounds fiercely conceptual, the clothes themselves had a chilly, edgy chic, even at their crinkliest. They were outfits for a retro-future world (Gattaca? It’s always a joy to make that connection.) And despite the dystopian flourish of what looked like stock tags attached to the wrists of his models—the ultimate commodification of human beings—Miller ended his show on an upbeat note, with the line “You got the love I need to see me through” chorusing through the finale. “I’m growing up,” he conceded.