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The Advocates: Strap It On

The Advocates: Strap It On


Backpacks, MAC on men, Michael Clark

Don't kill the messenger (bag). Just replace it with a backpack.

This season, after a long reign, the one-shoulder messenger bag is passing the style crown back to the classic backpack. Why the succession? Maybe it's because fewer guys and gals are wearing suits to work these days and prefer the more casual option. Whatever the reason, pairing a backpack with a smattering of attention-getting gay slogan buttons is one way of making yourself visible. Another option is the sleek, chic, unadorned approach: Raf Simons, the minimalist Belgian designer and creative director at Jil Sander, has an ongoing collaboration with the iconic American bag maker Eastpak (styles range from $200 to $500; American Apparel also sports some youthful options in fun metallic and vinyl fabrics in the $50 range ( But my favorite fall backpack is made of classic Pendleton wool blanket fabric and produced in collaboration with bicoastal retailer Opening Ceremony ($82;

I Feel Pretty

Men in makeup: You either love the look or despise it. If they're taking cues from the young undead in Twilight and Adam Lambert's refreshingly liberal use of nail polish and "guyliner," boys may soon be crowding the MAC makeup counter at your local Nordstrom. My favorite look is a touch of eyeliner, worn after dark and with a punk-inspired slim tuxedo. Men with oily skin would do well to try some loose powder to achieve a matte complexion. But there's no middle ground when it comes to men in makeup: Keep it fun and light, or cake it on like you mean it.

Style Icon: Michael Clark

A leading dance figure in London during the early 1980s, Scottish-born Michael Clark was a post-punk style icon. Prior to founding his own eponymous dance company, he famously collaborated with performance artist Leigh Bowery. It was Bowery who introduced Clark to the London art scene and created over-the-top costumes for his dance performances, including outre shapes and a polka dot motif that alluded to the Kaposi's sarcoma lesions from which Bowery suffered. Clark's style references -- princess ballerina, skinhead punk, natty schoolboy -- were seemingly schizophrenic. For Clark, it was a seamless look, one often homemade or thrift store- procured. Fashion was pure self-expression -- a DIY philosophy that deserves a renaissance in hard times.

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Alex Galan