We call it: the middle-aged masc is officially hot. Boys skaters: outside! Men with substance, and even bigger wallets: in! Of course, that’s something you’ll have noticed if you followed the AW22 menswear shows, in which silver-haired studs – or zaddies, as they’re better known – took to the runways. At Prada, actors Jeff Goldblum and Kyle MacLachlan and models Szubert Przemek and Rudy Verwey stole the show. Elsewhere, creators like Bianca Saunders, Martine Rose and Kid Super co-signed the new decree with their casting picks. And if that wasn’t proof enough, longtime zaddy favorites Hermès and Yohji Yamamoto reaffirmed their commitment to serving men of distinction – men who have stood the test of time and come out smarter. , powerful and cultured.
True, this was not the first time that silver foxes appeared on the catwalks. A decade ago, Prada’s Fall/Winter 2012 show featured Adrien Brody, Gary Oldman and Willem Dafoe in military-inspired tuxedo jackets. This season was a welcome nod to the infamous outing. For Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, these actors, in this Body of Work, as the show was called, are their “reality interpreters” at their highest level. Through casting and classic tailoring, paired with their portrayal of workwear, “elegance becomes a means of celebration or giving meaning,” for the co-creative directors, according to their show notes. What’s even more significant are the fan-made modifications of Jeff Goldblum in cuddly plush sheepskin beanbags.
Still, this recent wave of appreciation we’re seeing for vintage gents is remarkable, especially in the context of the pervasive youth fashion fetishism. It’s also a phenomenon that echoes beyond the track – a quick scroll through TikTok or Instagram and you’ll no doubt come across countless Sugar Daddy memes and clips from The character of Gene Kelly in The pirate; Eric Dane, a certified zaddy for millennials like McSteamynow plays the role of Euphoriais Cal Jacobs; and then there are those paparazzi snaps of Willem Dafoe (often referred to as “Willem Dripfoe” or Willem Da Goat” on TikTok) and Daniel Day-Lewis, which have resurfaced to elicit a collective sigh of desire.
This season, Martine Rose dressed the older men in her life in the clothes of their youth. The London-based designer drew inspiration from her memories of clubbing in London for her AW22 collection, creating a wardrobe for the cool zaddy: silk trousers, pastel windbreaker ensembles and sultry blue-collar work suits. Meanwhile, Bianca Saunders’ debut show in Paris took archetypal garments and imbued them with tailored rigor – the off-center zippers, wrapped jackets and decorative stitching on denim. The age diversity in the lookbook and runway imagery respectively reaffirmed the idea that the work of these designers is enjoyed by both new blood and those with deserved, discerning taste.
Bridging the gap between the old and new generation in fashion is often born out of a deeply shared respect among designers that manifests itself at every level, from casting to design. Anita Bitton, who cast for Glenn Martens’ first Y/Project collaboration with Jean Paul Gaultier, comments on the importance of creating a community of all ages. She notes that “too often we underestimate the friendships formed in all industries, and this was a primary friendship relationship.” In the case of this collection, we saw a friendship forged between the new kids on the block and the OG terrible children, wearing a mix of Gaultier’s cyberpunk AW95 print and those oversized, asymmetrical Y/Project silhouettes.
However, recent fashion appreciation for zaddies isn’t just limited to casting. It’s also making yourself known in the clothes themselves. Yohji Yamamoto has always created clothes for cool zaddies. This season, it looks like the Yohji man has achieved ultimate enlightenment (cushy retirement?) and you can tell. His tornado-swept hair and impeccably worn suit imply wisdom and the kind of relaxed ease and confidence that comes with age. At GmbH, Serhat Isik and Benjamin Huseby drew inspiration from the memories of gentlemen of an older generation – a suite of sharp, tailored looks nodding to Serhat’s memories of his father and friends donning their best costumes for Friday prayers, while this season’s faux astrakhan outerwear was a tribute to a “handsome man who is really dressed up,” Benjamin told us. The man from the GmbH takes pride in both his appearance and the longevity of the parts he owns.
While it only takes one investment to whet the zaddy’s appetite, it takes a lifestyle overhaul to truly quench the thirst. And it’s precisely this way of life that London-based label Arnar Mār Jōnsson has turned to this season, creating a wardrobe inspired by what they call ‘maestros’ – the silver foxes they spotted during recent trips to Italy, sitting reading the daily paper and sipping espressos in sunny squares in the north of the country. The wardrobe is based on layering classics – a shearling waistcoat, oxford shirt, earth-toned drawstrings, windbreaker with adjustable hems – that remain multifunctional and durable, produced locally in Italy with custom fabrics and recycled. Arnar notes that this season they “invested time into developing a full wardrobe, so our mid-layers, vest and shirt were very important when we were watching these guys and what they were wearing.” This man is dressed for both his country estate and his base and every vacation home in between.
Luxury fashion is ambitious, and owning so many houses with so many layers to match is certainly an appealing goal. For Generation Z, what could be more appealing than the dream of financial security and the most difficult crises? Well, maybe a handsome zaddy nice enough to give it your all.