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Dissecting the Frankenstein trend, the 50/50 way of dressing

When actor Jeff Goldblum made an appearance for Jimmy Kimmel Live! last month in a Prada shirt that bore two reassembled archival flame prints, split right down the middle, it simultaneously cemented two facts. One is that 65-year-old Goldblum is akin to fine wine. The other is that the Frankenstein trend, having now been featured in mainstream television, is reaching its moment of zenith.

A post shared by Jeff Goldblum (@jeffgoldblum) on

As the Mary Shelley-referencing epithet suggests, the trend is the season’s sartorial sway instigated by pieces made of two (sometimes more) completely different items made of different prints or fabrics — joined together seemingly on a whim.

Bisected clothing, though, is not a recent novelty. When coined the term to label Fall 2018’s influx of dresses spliced in a jumble — from Marni to hot parvenu Martine Serre — it was acknowledged that Sacai’s Chitose Abe is the mastermind behind the contemporary Frankenstein dress, introducing it as early as 1999. Pioneering deconstructivist Martin Margiela once toyed with the idea of half-half at his Fall 1997 show where models plied the three venues in clothes pinned with paper patterns.

margiela frankenstein trend
50/50 clothes can be traced back to Martin Margiela’s Fall 1997 show.

Still, it wasn’t until Vetements’ agenda-setting Fall 2015 show (where most trend pieces post-2015 tend to stem from) that 50/50 grail seeped into mainstream radar. Margiela alumni-cum-notorious-fan Demna Gvasalia introduced the now-famous Antwerpen t-shirt and floral-meets-sweatshirt dresses.

Following the show, this deconstructed sensibility mushroomed onto other runways. It took the form of a band tee in Marc Jacobs’ Spring 2016 offerings, to t-shirts with off-kilter neckline and spliced vintage t-shirts in Virgil Abloh’s Off-White Fall 2016 selections.

Pushing the Frankenstein to roam even more voraciously this year was Gosha Rubchinksiy’s Spring 2018 bomber that was a hybrid of slouch-fitted blazer and denim, and as part of his collaboration with Burberry, a half camel half deep navy trench coat.

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A fitting reflection of the current disjointed nature of the global state, more designers took note and injected the literal take on duality for Fall 2018. Christopher Bailey concocted a fluid silk shirt spliced with archive scarf prints from the ’80s and ’90s at his last Burberry show; Raf Simons melded Mylar survival blankets with lace into absurdist prairie dresses at Calvin Klein; Francisco Risso paid homage to the Bohèmes of Paris with slashed long coats at Marni; and Junya Watanabe proposed an asymmetrical bricolage of blooms and knit worn by an aptly mad scientist-haired model.

What seared the dual aesthetic permanently onto our collective memory was perhaps Prada’s crowd-favourite archive print shirt iteration. When popular demand for the comeback of Miuccia’s most iconic prints from past collections surged, Miuccia delivered. The Fall 2018 archive series (of which Goldblum repped), resurrected nine prints onto four camp collar shirts. And ever since their release, these shirts have been spotted on numerous style cognoscenti the likes of rapper Pusha T and 032c fashion director Marc Goehring — flaming into view with every other Insta-scroll or so.

balenciaga triple s frankenstein trend
Balenciaga’s Triple S gets the Frankenstein treatment.

The Frankenstein hysteria continues to gain momentum. Branching into other product categories, the so-hip-it-hurts Balenciaga Triple S has jumped on the bandwagon last June. The Barney-exclusive colourway pastiche allowed indecisive customers to get the best of both worlds at the price of one. With 50/50 Triple S pre-orders hitting the maximum quota on Barney’s webshop, other brands are likely to follow suit.

So if you ever find yourself torn between two possible purchases this season, bear in mind what Goldblum, Goehring and other Frankenstein enthusiasts have made stellar examples of. Why not get you an investment piece that can do both?

(Main image:Yannis Vlamos; featured image: Getty)

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