Alexis Petridis: Hell for leather

What bright spark came up with the idea for all-over leather menswear, and in summer, too?
Alexis Petridis: leather
Alexis Petridis: leather Photograph: David Newby Photograph: David Newby

Fashion designers may be many things, but you could never accuse them of being predictable. In a list of looks you could devise for a gentleman to wear at the height of summer, you'd think a full leather outfit would lurk somewhere near the bottom. Before you even get to the matter of aesthetics, there's the matter of practicality: it's traditionally hot in summer, which you might expect would preclude the all-over leather thing. Apparently not: designers not merely proposed we wear full leather this summer but, according to one menswear blogger, a "tough, dark, tight" leather outfit.

It's worth noting that these designers weren't from the lunatic fringe, but its mainstream: Calvin Klein, Burberry, Armani. The latter sent a model down the catwalk in leather trousers and a leather shirt, with the shirt open and nothing underneath it: the overheating problem was thus solved, but at the cost of making the wearer look like he'd been drawn by Tom Of Finland.

Of course, the gay subculture isn't the only connotation a full leather outfit holds. "You're going to look like Sid Snot," guffawed a friend when she found out I was modelling one. Frankly, chance would have been a fine thing: the outfit in question, also by Armani, featured a top that most closely resembled a beautician's tabard. I just looked baffling, and baffled, as indeed I had been from the moment I read about the all-over leather look. "This is just for the big guys," advised the menswear blogger. I hesitate to say the big guys are welcome to it, but it certainly wasn't for me.

• Alexis wears trousers £699, and shirt £329, both by Emporio Armani.
Boots from a selection, by He by Mango.
Photograph: David Newby for the Guardian. Grooming: Nikki Palmer at Mandy Coakley.


Alexis Petridis

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