A look ahead to days gone by

There was a sur­pris­ing old-school twist to trends at men’s fash­ion week in Paris, in­clud­ing Hawai­ian shirts, bucket hats and ‘man­bags’, writes Hafsa Lodi

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If the gar­ments shown last week at men’s fash­ion week in Paris are any in­di­ca­tion of how men will be dress­ing come spring/sum­mer next year, we are in for a bit of a shock. Lux­ury de­sign­ers seem to be in on some sort of mar­ket se­cret to which the public is not yet privy – one that de­mands an in­flux of Hawai­ian-style shirts and colour­ful Har­ring­ton jack­ets.

Menswear has been heav­ily in­flu­enced by sport – graphic T-shirts, bomber jack­ets and ath­leticin­spired trousers have been pop­u­lar of late. But brands show­ing at Paris took a wholly unan­tic­i­pated ap­proach with their spring/sum­mer 2018 run­way shows, re­ly­ing on Amer­i­can TV-in­spired themes of days gone by. They took to dress­ing their mod­els at times as char­ac­ters from old Amer­i­can Western flicks, and at oth­ers as stereo­typ­i­cal tourists va­ca­tion­ing in Europe.

Let’s start with the Hawai­ian shirt – a cringe­wor­thy item of cloth­ing an ex­am­ple of which, typ­i­cally, most Amer­i­can dads have hang­ing in the back of their wardrobes, re­served solely for trop­i­cal ex­cur­sions with the fam­ily. Dsquared2 re-in­tro­duced the trend at men’s fash­ion week in Mi­lan only days ear­lier, and it cer­tainly con­tin­ued in Paris.

At Ba­len­ci­aga, cre­ative di­rec­tor Demna Gvasalia took the im­age of the Amer­i­can fa­ther to heart, invit­ing his male mod­els to bring their chil­dren to the cat­walk. While some walked with tod­dlers sad­dled on their hips, oth­ers showed off bright Hawai­ian shirts – gar­ish yel­low and or­ange shades, palm trees and all. An­other ver­sion showed a triad of blues, pinks and pur­ples in an ab­stract fo­liage-in­spired pat­tern. A Hawai­ian shirt on the Paul Smith run­way de­picted a trop­i­cal evening, with palm trees bil­low­ing be­neath a large moon and vast sky full of stars. An­other one il­lus­trated un­der­wa­ter life, with fiery co­ral reefs and fish.

At Louis Vuit­ton, it seemed al­most ev­ery sec­ond model wore one of th­ese dated shirt styles in bright blue and red flo­ral de­signs, stamped with Louis Vuit­ton let­ter­ing across the chests, or in light green or navy styles that could dou­ble as sa­fari shirts. At Cer­rruti 1881, the style made an ap­pear­ance in a slightly more tai­lored, off-white ver­sion with brown- and mus­tard-hued leaf mo­tifs.

Mus­tards and yel­lows stood out on the run­ways – a sug­ges­tion, per­haps, that the fash­ion-con­scious man will step out of his com­fort zone in terms of colours next sum­mer.

At Her­mes, a burnt-red, al­most bur­gundy, tone was the high­light pig­ment, seen on knits, trenches and a croc­o­dile-leather jacket. Muted, mil­i­tary tones were also abun­dant among the brands, as were the op­po­site: elec­tric, cobalt blues in­cor­po­rated into col­lec­tions from Bil­lion­aire, Louis Vuit­ton and Issey Miyake, to name but a few.

Many vivid, neon tones were seen on vinyl ma­te­ri­als – an­other throw­back to past eras. Vinyl or shiny PVC and faux leathers were the fab­rics of choice for rain­coats, trenches, trousers and zip-up Har­ring­ton jack­ets. In some in­stances – like Ber­luti’s yel­low vinyl jacket with a sub­tle sheen, paired with off-white trousers and a jacket, or Lan­vin’s bright­green ver­sion, threaded through the belt loops of trousers and tied at the waist – the con­cept worked well, giv­ing the typ­i­cally cheap ma­te­rial a so­phis­ti­cated, street-cool up­date. The gold rain mac pa­raded by Julien David might even have some sell­ing power among men who favour flam­boy­ance.

But, when plas­tic-y tex­tiles were paired with bold text spell­ing out “Europa!” over checked and denim but­ton-down shirts at Ba­len­ci­aga, the cool fac­tor was not all that ev­i­dent.

A sim­i­lar theme opened the Louis Vuit­ton show, as mod­els wore uber-tight span­dex bi­cy­cle shorts and sporty, con­toured ath­letic leg­gings along with socks and san­dals ( just as the boys at Prada had worn a few days ear­lier in Mi­lan).

Suits, for the most part, were of re­laxed sil­hou­ettes – un­fit­ted and at times boxy, again play­ing off the stereo­type of the mid­dle-class Amer­i­can man, rather than the tai­lored Parisian gent – though suits by Dior Homme, Alexan­der McQueen and Bal­main were ex­pect­edly slim-fit­ting.

Hues of laven­der and mint green were spot­ted on suits at the Haider Ack­er­mann show, with ex­ceed­ingly sag­ging trousers, dis­play­ing the elas­ti­cated waist­lines of box­ers un­der­neath, and blaz­ers un­but­toned, re­veal­ing bare chests. Styling was some­what bizarre, with sim­ple, black flip-flops com­plet­ing the men’s looks.

At Thom Browne, suit jack­ets were ei­ther ab­nor­mally high, at waist length, or un­can­nily long, reach­ing mid-thigh. Gen­der norms were ques­tioned, as some of the male mod­els were dressed in but­ton-down and pleated skirts and dresses, too.

Wor­thy of men­tion are the shirts that were in­tro­duced at Valentino. Con­ven­tional col­lars were re­placed with long strips of fab­rics – such as those used on women’s blouses to tie loose pussy bows at the neck­line. In­stead, one strip would art­fully drape over the cen­tre of the shirt, but­toned un­der­neath the op­po­site side’s col­lar and then left loose, cre­at­ing the ap­pear­ance of an asym­met­ri­cal, hap­haz­ard tie. To wrap up with­out men­tion­ing den­ims would be ir­re­spon­si­ble, to say the least, as jeans have be­come more and more ac­cept­able in high fash­ion.

At Ba­len­ci­aga, cuts were straight and slim, and at Junya Watan­abe, the den­ims were patch­worked. Not the most fash­ion-for­ward ap­proaches, but it quickly be­came clear that th­ese Paris col­lec­tions her­alded a more re­gres­sive style rev­o­lu­tion.


Images Getty

A Louis Vuit­ton spring/ sum­mer de­sign.

Getty Images

Left, a model in a Paul Smith spring/sum­mer 2018 de­sign dur­ing Paris Menswear Fash­ion Week. Right, from the Lan­vin col­lec­tion.

Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

A model sports a de­sign by Ba­len­ci­aga dur­ing Paris Fash­ion Week.

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