Hailed as menswear’s ‘fashion story teller’, Turkish-born designer Umit Benan consistently delivers collections each season that are a unique showcase of theatrical surprises and sartorial delights.
Working with the philosophy that the story behind a design concept is the most significant element in the formula, Benan takes the novel approach of first envisaging the sartorial tale that inspires a collection, before picking up his sketching pen. When questioned why he places such emphasis on working in this manner, Benan states with his typically laid-back charm “That’s why I got into the business – the only thing that interests me is telling a story”.
At the opening of his SS13 show in Milan, curtains were drawn back to reveal eight beds, each with an awakening couple beneath the covers. The men emerged and began to dress, whilst acting out individual morning routines with their women who remained in bed. The theme of the collection became clear: it was a story about ‘a man who once loved a woman who loves menswear’. Striking something of a personal note to Benan, the ardour, intimacy and depth behind this style fable was beautifully translated into the designs of the collection.
Following this opening spectacle was the runway show, which culminated with a woman materialising from between the sheets, donning her man’s clothing and taking to the catwalk in an artful blurring of the lines of androgynous dressing. The final flourish was the designer himself springing from beneath the covers of the last bed, energetically sprinting across the set to take a well-deserved bow – the entire performance was art and fashion at its finest.
The collection itself consisted of luxuriously louche separates and tailoring, dashed with nuances of modern 70s cool. Tailored jackets were cut in masculine, broad-shouldered forms and trousers were liberally sized with without appearing over proportioned. Some of the standout looks were a camel-rust cotton trench with a generous use of fabric and an artfully oversized back storm flap.
Bold checks, edgy colour-pop leather biker jackets and a new take on nautical were also seen across the line, with a superb use of colour and contrasting materials throughout.
The accompanying thought-provoking theatricals lent the SS13 line a rather charismatic, rakish appeal, that would inspire any man (or in fact, woman) to invest in this whimsical designer’s uber-cool creations. Perhaps more significantly however, in a poignant homage to Benan’s artistic convictions, the SS13 show has left us all wondering what epic spectacle will be in store for his next sartorial chapter.
Watch designer Umit Benan’s interview about the SS13 show and collection below: