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Men's high fashion has died...and risen from the dead

The Fall 2009 shows in Paris are in full swing and so far the men's collections seem to be reflecting the inevitable depression that the designers must be feeling as a result of the economic downtown. Models adorned in heavy white make-up and hollowed eyes are being sent down the runway in ensembles that would be perfect in an upcoming My Chemical Romance music video. While these designers can hardly be accused of rehashing the same-old/same-old, I'm not sure anyone wants to spend their ever-shrinking disposable income on what are tantamount to designer Halloween costumes. Let's take a closer look at three of the biggest proponents (i.e., offenders) of this new (as coined by The Cut) "Zombie chic" trend:

Alexander McQueen

The first outfit reminds me of a 1930s football player (a la The Leatherheads) wearing a blacksmith apron. As for the second, I think the cod piece (which I can't even look at directly for fear of dying of embarrassment for this particular model) and fur trim collar (over a raincoat? -- how impractical!) speak for themselves. The remainder (and bulk of McQueen's collection) look like costumes for Johnny Depp's next -- because I think we can all safely assume there will be another -- project with Tim Burton, which will inevitably be some sort of romantic/gothic film in which a deathly pale Depp prances around in top hats and capes in the vein of Sweeney Todd or Sleepy Hollow. In fact, I suspect the reference to Depp's work in Burton films may have been a conscious one by McQueen as all of his models look eerily like Depp. [Disclaimer: I actually really love just about every movie Johnny Depp has done with Tim Burton; I just don't necessarily want my husband to dress like he's a character in one unless it's Halloween. And then I think that would be pretty hot actually.] The last outfit is, perhaps the most normal (well, relatively), though it's quite an odd mix of Scottish punk (which McQueen is famous for) and gaucho.

I'm not particularly familiar with Gareth Pugh. In fact, I don't think I'd ever heard of him until Beyonce started sporting a lot of his outfits in her recent tour as Sasha Fierce. [Aside to all the singers out there: You really need to stop touring as alter egos of yourselves, it didn't worth for Garth Brooks and it won't work for you.] On the Fall 2009 runway, Pugh's models sport the same undead make-up as McQueen's, but his get-ups are equal parts The Cure and Mugatu's Derelicte fashion label from Zoolander. There's also that vaguely futuristic vibe that Pugh is known for (that is assuming of course that in the future we won't have any sewing machines and are forced into wearing old auto parts and mangy animal fur). Let's hope that leggings, chain mail and yeti pelts aren't the next big things in menswear. That said though, I think Pugh would be a great choice to outfit Orgy (whose Wikipedia page hilariously describes them as "death pop") should they get it together and decide to tour again in the near future.

John Galliano

Clearly, Galliano has been watching way too much HBO recently as he appears to have been drawing his inspiration from John Adams, Pirates of the Caribbean and Pan's Labyrinth. Except that John's HBO is set in an alternate reality where everyone is undead and mostly naked. Highlights for me from this show: (1) Galliano's riff on "sexy judge" complete with barrister wig, open robes and thong, (2) the chest make-up on the satyrs, which is pretty spectacular -- the make-up guy for this show really ought to consider a career as a make-up artist for Broadway, and (3) the wigs; oh the wigs (I particularly like what can best be described as the dead rooster the pirate is sporting as hair)!

Looking at pictures of these shows got me thinking: Have fashion designers strayed too much from "fashion" in an effort to really put on a show? Sure, these outfits are pretty entertaining, but they really don't perform their intended purpose as realistic clothing options for me. Any thoughts?

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