The Smart and The Crazy: Inside The Standout Paris Menswear Shows
From leopard print sneakers to shorts that looked like frilly knickers, to clean tailoring and luxe materials, Paris' menswear shows featured both eccentricity and classic chic.
For followers of men’s fashion, the Fall/Winter 2019 collections, presented last week in the French capital, amid continuing unrest from anti-government protesters, the Gilets jaunes, was a space worth watching.
A number of top designers made their first or second outing at some of the world’s most famous fashion houses in what has become the hot world of men’s fashion.
Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh
DJ, designer, architect, engineer and Off-White creator Virgil Abloh presented his second collection as Men’s Artistic Director at Louis Vuitton. It was inspired by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Witness the crystal white-glove invite. For the set, he recreated segments of Manhattan harking back to the Billie Jean era, and brought in street artists, like Jim Joe to help decorate.
Models walked in a mix of puffy, luxury streetwear and couture-d suits and raincoats embellished with fancy design details. Witness also the silver foil raincoat, flowing garments made from mix-and-match flags, a neon yellow Vuitton day bag and army-style logo-d backpacks in comfy gray felt. Abloh is courting controversy, with several reports that some of his pieces are knock-offs from other designers, including Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss. Naomi Campbell sat front row.
Balmain, Olivier Rousteing
Hip young French designer Olivier Rousteing decided to make a statement about the manners of today through wording emblazoned across some of the street accoutrements, like hoodies and biker bags.
Think statements like, “You only know my name, not my story.” “Your comments I don’t mind. Hate with passion is love.” “Don’t put your blame on me.” “I’m under no obligation to reply.”
His elegant, deconstructed black-and white penguin suits stole the show, however. Some of these slinky designs were worn with tiny racing goggles and others with hoodies and sneakers to modernize the suit look.
Issey Miyake, Homme Plisse Issey Miyake
Japan’s leading couture tech wizard, Issey Miyake, has been a fixture on the Paris schedule for decades. This season, the house presented two menswear shows—one for the main label and one for its pleated Plisse line. Loose-fitting, tiger-striped suits stole the show at the main brand. The house’s first ever show for Homme Plisse Issey Miyake, entitled Playground, was presented at the Pompidou Centre with choreographer Daniel Ezralow.
Vetements, Demna Gvasalia
Georgian fashion brand ambassador Demna Gvasalia presented a grungy-looking, street-inspired collection, complete with charity shop floral finds, and statement logos for his Vetements menswear Fall/Winter 2019 collection. Think PJ-style trousers, checked shirts, fluffy pink winter coats and red lace veils.
Dries van Noten
Someone has to be the grown up. Belgian designer Dries van Noten sent out elegant apparel for men that kept the puffy street looks, seen all over the Paris runways and decoration in check, with the focus on clean tailoring and luxe materials. Witness his pin-striped suit with an elegant layering of puffy warmth, just visible above the blazer, and flowing trousers, or a tie-dye puffer scarf neatly pinned by a belt above a suit.
Pale, skinny models walked in layers of roomy coats, with girly purses sewn in like pockets. Some were worn over faded, wife-beater T shirts, matched with trousers that contained weird leather panels instead of neat creases. The trousers were extra long and spread around the wearer’s shoes to reach the floor.
Hedi Slimane, Celine
One of the most anticipated shows of the week was Hedi Slimane’s debut menswear collection at Celine. After the scathing reviews that greeted his debut womenswear collection for the label in the Fall, this go-round he fared somewhat better. The designs were considered more muted than the rocker looks from his days at Saint Laurent.
British designer JW Anderson made the move from London to Paris Fashion week for menswear Fall/Winter 2019. Looks included leopard print sneakers worn with tiger-striped socks, polka-dot skirts, shorts that looked like frilly knickers, and woolen hats that looked like they were designed for underground warriors but inspired by pious nuns.
After launching its first menswear collection in the South of France last season, established French brand Jacquemus took to the Paris runways with its Fall/Winter 2019 collection that played on workers outfits. Think three-quarter-length orange, worker-style designer trousers, and a designer shepherd's outfit.
British up-and-comer CMMN SWDN took to the Paris runways this season with a show entitled Rushing. Standstill. As per show notes, “The collection served as a reaction against the ‘rushing standstill’, a term coined by French philosopher Paul Virilio to describe our accelerated present day.”
With this in mind, CMMN SWDN said it took a “slower approach” to the design process, looking at the importance of being comfortable in one’s own skin. Pre-loved garments served as a focal point of inspiration—the well-worn fabrics evoking feelings of nostalgia and familiarity that offer an insight into the biography of the wearer,” the house said.
This critic loved the lacy menswear tights and matching body vests, worn with giant boots.