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The Bad Suit Is Now Very, Very Good

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 13: ASAP Rocky and Rihanna attend 2021 Costume Institute Benefit – In America: A Lexicon of Fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)Sean Zanni

Let’s go back to that shrunken tux on Rocky. The red carpet is a tough thing to have fun with for men—how do you tweak a suit, after all? Any novelties seem to disrupt the garment’s essential modernist perfection. Russell Westbrook managed, though, in a dusty blue Ralph Lauren tuxedo and matching sapphires, plus coordinating hair. But a few other men did something fantastic with their tailoring proportions: gone was the skinny suit that has been the red carpet standard, and in its place was…your worst rental tuxedo. One of these looks came courtesy of Balenciaga, who dressed Elliott Page in a suit from Demna Gvasalia’s debut couture show last July, and another came from Justin Bieber, who wore his brand Maison Drew. Page had a carnation in the lapel of his slightly oversized jacket, a nod to Oscar Wilde as a queer icon that also drummed up sweet reveries about the great American prom, and Bieber’s pants were too big while his jacket was too small.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 13: Elliot Page attends 2021 Costume Institute Benefit – In America: A Lexicon of Fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)Sean Zanni
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 13: Justin Bieber attends 2021 Costume Institute Benefit – In America: A Lexicon of Fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)Sean Zanni

These were great suits for a few reasons. First of all, every American guy has been there in some way—the suit is actually the nightmare of American fashion, because it embodies all the pain and pleasure of masculinity, in that it’s so hard (but so rewarding!) to find one that’s reasonably priced and fits nicely. Rocky’s better-but-still-oddly-fitting suit was nice, too: short in the sleeve to show off a big righteous ruffled cuff, and the quilt was a nod to his cozy boy attitude. It also coordinated perfectly with Rihanna’s Balenciaga couture cape, and the image of them together suggested that America’s hottest couple managed to roll out of bed to come to this gala thing. What makes this experimental tailoring transcend mere gimmickry—the kind of fashion victim trick that haters love to hate—is that these are actually complexly tailored garments designed to artfully echo vernacular fashion. Apologies to Savile Row, but it’s way harder to make a suit not fit in just the right way than it is to make one fit perfectly.

Between Kardashian, Bieber, and Isabelle Huppert, Balenciaga ruled the night—no brand has a savvier understanding of the performance art that is contemporary celebrity. And everyone wearing Thom Browne seemed to be enjoying themselves, too, which is one of the things we often forget about fashion. Pete Davidson grinning in his dress, Evan Mock wearing a gimp mask, and Lil Uzi punking out in his skirt: style is comfort, but fashion is about pleasure.

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