paris

WITH MORE FREE­DOM, CLEARER VI­SIONS AND EN­GAG­ING NAR­RA­TIVES, THE DE­SIGN­ERS OF PARIS HAVE COM­POSED RICH COL­LEC­TIONS THAT CEL­E­BRATE PER­SONAL STYLES

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Back then, the menswear in­dus­try thrived on men who or­dered suits. To­day, a sig­nif­i­cant part of the busi­ness is com­prised of ready-to-wear clothes and dash­ing ac­ces­sories. De­spite the fact that tai­lor­ing—some­times in play­ful, in­no­va­tive forms—still de­fine a large chunk of what de­sign­ers have to of­fer, iden­tity and at­ti­tude of the men ac­tu­ally wear­ing the clothes pretty much de­ter­mine where menswear is go­ing. At the mo­ment, it is go­ing for­ward at a steady rate as more brands de­pend on its menswear departments fol­low­ing slower profit growth in wom­enswear.

The ex­cit­ing vibes of menswear were strongly felt back dur­ing the last week of Jan­uary, when Paris Men’s Fash­ion Week was held. When the wom­enswear in­dus­try was shaken with a rush of res­ig­na­tions, the menswear field felt rel­a­tively calmer. Yes, Italo Zuc­chelli, Mas­si­m­il­iano Gior­netti and Alessan­dro Sar­tori have closed their chapters in Calvin Klein, Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo and Ber­luti, re­spec­tively; but the gi­ants of Paris—Kim Jones, Véronique Nicha­nian and Kris Van Ass­che, just to name a few—are still around with even more dy­namic vi­sions as well as bound­ary-push­ing aes­thet­ics.

A stel­lar ex­am­ple would be Louis Vuit­ton. Tak­ing a dif­fer­ent ap­proach than his usual ex­otic ex­cur­sions, men’s cre­ative di­rec­tor Kim Jones paid homage to the city he called home for the past five years. Although us­ing Paris as a theme comes off as a tad repet­i­tive, es­pe­cially given how Louis Vuit­ton has taken its ret­ro­spec­tive ex­hi­bi­tion “Volez, Voguez, Voy­agez” to sev­eral coun­tries, Jones still ex­e­cuted his idea im­pec­ca­bly. The afore­men­tioned phrase was beau­ti­fully printed on silk scarves and shirts, which un­doubt­edly will make an ap­pear­ance in many ed­i­to­ri­als. But the high­lights were mainly the work­wear-in­spired outer­wear with large pock­ets and prom­i­nent use of the Mono­gram Eclipse on a bevy of bags. With Shinji Oh­maki’s “Lim­i­nal Air Space-Time” giv­ing the show a sen­ti­men­tal touch, the col­lec­tion felt fit­tingly per­sonal. “Ev­ery­thing was deep. The color was deep,” said Xavier Dolan, Louis Vuit­ton’s brand am­bas­sador and cam­paign star, af­ter the show.

Go­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion was Kris Van Ass­che from Dior Homme. He took a break from rein­ter­pret­ing the house’s her­itage, and in­stead opted for a more ca­sual out­ing. “Mr. Dior was not a start­ing point. He’s al­ways there, but I wanted it to be much more about to­day,” he ex­plained. Upon ar­riv­ing, guests were greeted by skate ramps, a lit­eral trans­la­tion of Van Ass­che’s in­spi­ra­tion this sea­son. The suits were no longer skinny but in­stead loose, com­pleted with neck charms and bows. The trousers were es­pe­cially roomy, and the over­all mood was more re­laxed than usual. The de­signer def­i­nitely upped his ante this time, keep­ing up with the afore­men­tioned move­ment to ready-to-wear pieces that are be­yond suits.

If Dior Homme used “street” to make the brand look sleek, Gosha Rubchin­skiy was a true street kid whose de­sign harkened back to post- Soviet Rus­sia. Re­bel­lious, quirky and raw, Rubchin­skiy’s sin­gu­lar aes­thetic was soon set­ting a bar for oth­ers that fol­lowed. This sea­son, he was in­flu­enced by the punks of the 1990s. And, boy, did his de­sign feel like an orig­i­nal breath of fresh air in Paris. Over­sized leather jack­ets, sweat­shirts bear­ing the brand’s logo and baggy denim trousers might not sound all that ap­peal­ing, but in the hands of the de­signer, they turned into the ar­che­typal cool kid’s cloth­ing es­sen­tials. Out­side the show, you would be able to see many kids don­ning his ap­par­els, look­ing strik­ingly bold in their Rubchin­skiy’s getups.

Speak­ing of out­side the show, Raf Si­mons’ scrib­bled pieces from last sea­son were also spot­ted on the streets of Paris that Jan­uary. This fall/win­ter, his col­lec­tion was highly an­tic­i­pated fol­low­ing his de­par­ture from Dior to fo­cus on his own artis­tic pur­suits and menswear line. Ti­tled “Night­mares and Dreams,” the col­lec­tion was pre­sented in an al­most the­atri­cal way. In­stead of the usual blasts of mu­sic, the sound­track to the show in­cor­po­rated a se­ries of nar­ra­tives com­posed by di­rec­tor David Lynch. The mod­els then saun­tered on the run­way in over­sized sil­hou­ettes, clad in pieces with frayed edges, as if they had been worn for quite some time. Both the

“EV­ERY­THING WAS DEEP. THE COLOR WAS DEEP”

right The run­way fi­nale of raf si­mons Op­po­site page clock­wise lan­vin’s sleek but “worn-in” look; kenzo’s fresh youth­ful ap­peal; men’s scarves are em­i­nent on her­mès’ run­way; goscha rubchin­skiy’s re­newed ’ 90s punk style

sound­track and the clothes suc­cess­fully evoked mem­o­ries and pro­voked bouts of nostal­gia. This is, of course, ex­actly the kind of work that the Bel­gian de­signer is known for.

In­ter­est­ingly, Lu­cas Ossendri­jver also put to­gether a strongly sen­ti­men­tal col­lec­tion for Lan­vin. Af­ter his long­time col­lab­o­ra­tor, Alber Elbaz, left his po­si­tion as cre­ative di­rec­tor of the house’s wom­enswear line, Ossendri­jver started ques­tion­ing his mo­ti­va­tion in de­sign­ing. At the same time, Elbaz’ sud­den de­par­ture fu­eled his cre­ativ­ity to present ut­terly wear­able clothes on the run­way. Soft-look­ing textures and gem col­ors high­lighted his fall/win­ter of­fer­ings, along with a worn-in qual­ity that was un­mis­tak­ably Lan­vin. None­the­less, the lineup looked ex­u­ber­ant, as stitch­ing de­tails were bal­anced with ex­em­plary knitwear in one har­mo­nious, co­her­ent col­lec­tion.

Con­sis­tency, how­ever, can some­times be mis­taken for monotony. The artis­tic di­rec­tor of Her­mès Men, Véronique Nicha­nian, clev­erly avoided the lat­ter with her cre­ations. It was par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing to note how var­ied and play­ful her out­ing was for this sea­son. Khakis, blues and pinks fresh­ened up the col­lec­tion, which was topped off with bril­liantly styled silk scarves. The over­all vibe, as al­ways, was re­laxed. At first glimpse, those pieces came across as be­ing sim­ple—per­haps a bit too sim­ple. But, Nicha­nian has al­ways been a mas­ter of dis­creet lux­ury, with a knack for mak­ing the wearer revel in her pieces even with­out no­tice­able lo­gos. She em­ployed cash­mere, silk and even crocodile skin to or­ches­trate an un­der­stated string of clothes. The re­sult hit all the right notes: Care­fully cu­rated yet play­fully ar­rest­ing.

Equally, if not more, ar­rest­ing were Givenchy and Kenzo. De­spite some no­table dif­fer­ences, they shared the same youth­ful edge that is the epit­ome of menswear’s re­vival. On a pink stage, Ric­cardo Tisci in­tro­duced Givenchy’s new sig­na­ture: the co­bra. The ma­jes­tic snake was trans­lated into em­broi­deries and prints for jack­ets as well as sweaters. Mean­while, Kenzo’s Hum­berto Leon and Carol Lim looked back to their ex­pe­ri­ence at­tend­ing Blur’s con­cert in 1995. Whim­si­cal, nos­tal­gic and moody, the col­lec­tion fea­tured de­sat­u­rated neon col­ors, lo­gos and psy­che­delic pat­terns. But, it was more than a nod to the past. Com­po­nents of new­ness are para­mount for Leon and Lim, as it is for the fu­ture of menswear. The ex­cite­ment has just be­gun.

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