Between the peak in US home sales in February 2007 and the outcome of this subprime-fueled surge leading to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the crash of September 2008, many painful events created many painful consequences. One of them, infinitely minor in the grand scheme of life but increasingly noticeable to us, was that Style.com, the always-loved ancestor of Vogue Runway, experienced some turmoil – and our clothing coverage. for men (still the sideshow, let’s face it) was the main victim. All of the images in our Fall 2009 collection and accompanying reviews by then-leading menswear designer Tim Blanks have apparently been deleted from the Style.com/Vogue Runway archives.
Usually when you cover up fashion you always look forward, rarely can you pause to look back. But the lockdowns of the past few months have given us the luxury of enough time to fully notice this absence in our otherwise damn comprehensive archive of 21st century fashion shows. Then we realized that it might be interesting to look back on that ‘lost season’ to try and restore some of what we were missing – maybe just the images from the collection and a context piece like this. – in order to guess if there might be parallels to be drawn with the current state of men’s fashion. After all, then, we were also at the end (we hoped then and now) of a historic disruption that touched almost every corner of global society. And because the form of fashion is symptomatic of society, when society is rapidly changed, fashion is duly reshaped. Additionally, 2009 was another year in which Joe Biden entered the White House, albeit in a modified and foreshadowing capacity.
At the time, unfortunately, I wasn’t around to report on the season either: it wasn’t until right after the spring 2010 men’s shows that Emma Tucker, now editor-in-chief of Sunday Times and then my boss on Time (the original, in London), had the life-changing idea of sending unskilled klutz from the features office to cover women’s clothing in place of a fashion colleague on maternity leave . Arriving for my first shows in New York, I was so ignorant of the state of the capital-F fashion that when all the other British journalists talked so passionately about visiting Duane Reade, I assumed he was a trendy new designer. What I quickly understood, however, is that fashion is an industrial art whose function and expression are psychologically endlessly interesting and writable. Plus, it’s the best fun. But whatever.
Fortunately, looking back on The Lost Season (at Style.com level), there are some great dispatches from Adam Tscorn from the Los Angeles Times, Guy Trebay from The New York Times, (all the youngest Times must put their location in their name to distinguish themselves from Time–Times), so, of course, that a slice of Suzy menkes, then International Herald Tribune. (Another personal aside, but on this first season of mine, Suzy, herself a Times veteran, shared a terrible cup of coffee with me in the tents of Bryant Park and gave this newcomer wise, nerve-racking and always helpful advice – what a lady.)
Focusing on the fall 2009 coverage from this January by examining these historic reports, plus what can be Googled from the collections themselves, gives a fascinating snapshot of a moment. Mad Men was all the rage, Barack Obama took office in the middle of Milan (great news for Jason Wu and the late Isabel Toledo), and, as usual at the time during menswear in January, half of the eye of global fashion was on the hoo -ha red carpet at the Golden Globes and SAGs.