DA MAN - Style - - Contents -

Paris’ win­ter chill beck­oned wide- eyed fash­ion week en­thu­si­asts to don their warm­est out­er­wear as they ar­rived in the French cap­i­tal for the world’s most an­tic­i­pated run­way shows. With such an il­lus­tri­ous bevy of big names par­tic­i­pat­ing, it’s never an easy task to choose which show to go to, let alone nail an in­vite—if you haven’t al­ready got­ten your name in the game. That aside, the sea­son is brim­ming with cre­ative and sharp tai­lor­ing, and a wel­come shift in color spec­trum to one that adopts many shades of grey (per­haps the in­fa­mous novel was a hit in France too?) The cre­ativ­ity is most pro­foundly man­i­fested through an ap­par­ently cu­ri­ous urge to de­con­struct men’s sar­to­rial el­e­gance, mak­ing it less about obey­ing tra­di­tional rules and more about dis­play­ing taste through a fu­sion of un­reg­u­lated styles. The spirit of de­con­struc­tion also departs from (though only fleet­ingly) the trade­mark color of black, more in­ter­est­ingly opt­ing for a va­ri­ety of rich, deep dark tones seen sashay­ing along the cat­walks.

Of them all, de­signer Kris van Ass­che truly shines this sea­son, be it in his work for Dior Homme or in his own la­bel Kris­vanass­che that is cur­rently en­ter­ing its sec­ond year. The for­mer epit­o­mizes the pro­gres­sive di­rec­tion of fash­ion fa­vor­ing the youth, with for­mal blue navy suits con­vey­ing a re­bel­lious streak through non- con­ven­tional pat­terns: pin­striped lines in vary­ing sizes, lily of the val­ley or polka dots. Ass­che’s epony­mous brand fosters a sim­i­lar edge: sleeve­less wool or leather tops worn over a suit and un­tucked shirt. The en­sem­ble gives a de­cid­edly new, smart ex­ten­sion to a dull of­fice look rather than re­vert­ing to the well-trod­den preppy vibe.

For ex­treme style de­con­struc­tion, it is Yo­hji Ya­mamoto who finds the op­ti­mal bal­ance in both lay­er­ing and sil­hou­ettes. At first glance, the fall/ win­ter col­lec­tion may ap­pear an over­bear­ing feast of loud pat­terns: a skull-and-leaf-printed suit over a pin­striped white shirt and a metal­lic polka- dot tie; or striped knitwear swad­dled in a dark cam­ou­flaged biker jacket sport­ing long zipped- open cuts on the back of the arms. But each look not only man­ages to carry a nat­u­ral swag­ger, but also com­pletely rewrites the rule­book on mix­ing pat­terns. Some of the suits also bear long cuts at the back of the torso, which clev­erly add room for body move­ment while show­ing a sat­is­fy­ing glimpse of the shirt mo­tif be­neath.

Yet de­spite the om­nipres­ence of grey in de­sign­ers’ col­lec­tions, black re­mains a for­mi­da­ble force, par­tic­u­larly in the sar­to­rial of­fer­ings of two French fash­ion houses. Givenchy is all about bas­ket­ball this fall/win­ter, with bas­ket­ball court mark­ings repli­cated onto black sweaters and trousers. Even on a sharply tai­lored black long coat, Ric­cardo Tisci au­da­ciously in­serts a splash of beige and orange—an al­lu­sion to the court—that vis­ually im­bues a spirit of dy­namism and move­ment. On Her­mès’ run­way, black is also the sub­ject in ques­tion. While the cat­walk dis­plays im­mac­u­lately cut black suits for sev­eral of the first looks, many out­fits that follow are agree­ably deep

and dark in color, but im­por­tantly not in true black. Véronique Nicha­nian calls her “de­con­structed” black hue faux noir or fake black.

Yet the idea of de­con­struc­tion can per­me­ate more than just cuts, col­ors and sil­hou­ettes. In spite of its stature as the old­est run­ning cou­turier in Paris, Lan­vin dares to rein­vent the brand’s trade­mark ap­proach to el­e­gance by adopt­ing a sar­to­ri­ally debonair punk at­ti­tude for the fall/win­ter ’14. Tak­ing place on a windy Sun­day morn­ing at the École Na­tionale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, the house’s show opens with an all-black en­sem­ble: a beau­ti­fully cut long coat, un­der­stated shoes and a ver­sa­tile dark green leather bag. Out­er­wear of var­i­ous kinds such as jack­ets, trench and fur coats are styled to per­fec­tion—the shoul­der cuts, fab­ric choices (punk can look so ex­pen­sive!) and fit­ted sil­hou­ettes—and paired with highly cov­etable sneak­ers. Yes, Lan­vin is the long­est-stand­ing fash­ion house in Paris, but there is noth­ing old about its cat­walk per­for­mances.

Also ex­hibit­ing a re­newed brand iden­tity is Saint Lau­rent un­der the helm of Hedi Sli­mane. Cham­pi­oning a rock star per­sona, a slim black leather jacket is paired with Yves Saint Lau­rent’s sig­na­ture ruf­fled dress shirt— cre­at­ing a look that man­ages to be simultaneously dra­matic and non­cha­lant. Ref­er­ences to mu­sic are much more lit­eral in Paul Smith’s fall/win­ter col­lec­tion that showcases knitwear em­bla­zoned with mu­si­cal notes. The shoes ex­hib­ited are also note­wor­thy, cast in an eye- catch­ing green­blue metal­lic fin­ish.

For Louis Vuit­ton, not only metal­lic touches but also bright lines are em­ployed to com­ple­ment the typ­i­cal somber col­ors of the fall/win­ter pieces. With the Inca site of Machu Pic­chu serv­ing as a pri­mary in­spi­ra­tion, stripes and vivid pur­ple lines ac­cent grey-toned coats, while a metal­lic tube bag adds a cos­mic edge to an oth­er­wise earthy brown en­sem­ble. Louder and brighter fall/win­ter sep­a­rates are seen on the run­way of the en­er­getic and for­ever-young Kenzo. But for suave and so­phis­ti­cated el­e­gance, and less of a fo­cus on “de­con­structed” styling, Valentino and Ber­luti—two French brands with Ital­ian founders—are def­i­nitely not to be missed.

Yo­hji Ya­mamoto's skull-printed suit op­po­site page Dior homme's sig­na­ture suit for the sea­son

Ber­luti's el­e­gant en­sem­ble; Valentino's stylish suit paired with striped sweater op­po­site page Givenchy's long black coat with a brushed ac­cent

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