Paris Men’s Fall/Winter 2019 | Day 1

by Long Nguyen

On the top floor of the Palais de Tokyo on a cold Tuesday afternoon, it was an American designer who opened the Paris Men’s Fall/Winter 2019-2020 show season with a forceful show of uniformed based clothing, a proposition that had been a central tenet of Heron Preston’s fashion initiative since his entrance into the fashion orbit over four years ago.  It would be easier to classify Preston’s work as streetwear, but I think that would be missing his point of view about what fashion should be today. The setting was an airport terminal - complete with x-ray machines and surveillance TV cameras, and an announcer for the flight at Gate 19 for Paris. There was also a guard accompanied by a trained sniff dog with mouth muzzle at the entrance, just in case some was carrying contraband. The models, both guys and girls, came out through metal detectors wearing a variety of uniform inspired unisex garments. These items were comprised of puffer jackets, leggings, parachute parkas, coats with safety reflective bands, and long jackets that felt like a loose oversized shirt in bright orange, lime yellow, and blood orange red. The brand also presented new footwear in collaboration with UGG and Nike. Heron’s show was another way of looking at clothes worn as work wear. He transformed them into new statements of wearable garments like the orange nylon jacket and pants or one version in light yellow all adorned with the brand’s logo written out in Cyrillic letters. These items, which many of his fans that swarmed around the Palais de Tokyo, will easily be embraced.

In another Paris debut, following last season’s launch at Pitti Florence, Fumito Ganryu paced his show at the backside of the Hôtel d’Evreux, slow enough so that the audience can appreciate the sophisticated cutting and draping techniques deployed with amazing control of each garment. By going back to asking, ‘what should clothes be today,’ Ganryu offered smart suggestions, starting with the premise of an A-line silhouette, shaped by a tighter jacket, and very flared bottom pants. A shaped that repeated throughout different fabrics that all pointed to an ease and comfort but not lacking the essential details such as sweaters that opened on the side and jackets with ventilation holes.  

While these garments may be perceived as basics and surely genderless, such as the tracksuits with flared pants or duffle coats with a variety of shapes and cuts, the clothes really were a great deal more than what one would normally find if they were well thought out from a design perspective. A few of the wool single-breasted tailored jackets – one navy blue with a generous backside and two strings attached, but untied- were paired with very loose and flared pants with drawstrings, made from sweat pants cotton destined for the gym. The many versions of duffle coats in grey, navy and yellow were actually remarkably engineered garments, at the very least, like a black heavy wool coat that seemed as rigid as a sculpture. Additionally, these features could be seen in the ice blue nylon zippered coat with patch pockets and long sleeves hiding the model’s hands and paired with black flowing cotton pants. The several women wearing these gender fluid looks was a respite from the streetwear trend and suggested that there is life at the end of the tunnel for thoughtfully designed clothes. All this combined suggests a bright future for Ganryu, a recent alumnus from the Comme des Garçons fashion empire.  

I first saw Sankuanz’s show in Paris in July 2016 at a small art gallery. The designer, Shangguan Zhe, featured more streetwear vibes, but nicely worked with experimental fabrics that made the garments look futuristic and utilitarian at the same time. An appropriate wardrobe for both the space age and the postmodern era. His fall-winter show staged at the Paris Sotheby’s auction was a remarkable step forward for the designer in terms of coherence, range and substantive offerings of products. His consumers preferred dressier – well Sankuanz’s dressy, which means sharply tailored jackets, black shiny leather suiting, tight jacket and pants flared at the ankle as well. His mastery of incorporating military elements is prevalent in his diving suits and giant waterproof zippers that figure into double layered pants or stretch tops that look like the top half of a wetsuit into outerwear by combining leather bikers and wool coats into one unique and structured piece. Many of the surfaces of the fabrics had a bright sheen like the bluish denim jacket and pants ‘suit’ to reflect the marine and wet theme that flowed throughout the show. There were plenty of luxe street items to satisfy Sankuanz’s fan base that has grown over the years in both China and around the world. Some of the footwear was made in conjunction with Puma.

But the big debut of the belong to Takahiro Miyashita’s Takahiromiyashita The Soloist show as the designer returned to Paris after nearly a decade since he decided to close his then Number (N)ine collection after a showing in February 2009. At the Bastille Design Center, the designer achieved a singular fashion moment with a show titled “1One My Way.” Presenting a collection of poetry and garments synched in harmony to create an atmosphere that revolved around jackets and coats with wrap around zippers, that often-revealed underneath layers. High collars mostly covering half of each of the model’s face and worn with tight shorts that showed the models legs or with print running tights and large work boots. In one outfit the designer conveyed both the protective and the vulnerability of fashion. One great look was the black tuxedo jacket with sleeves slightly torn at the shoulder and elbows with a stretch nylon long sleeve running top and tight shorts. A blue cotton padded coat with layers of matching blue prints on the model’s tights splashed around the sleeves and left body of the coat. 

Here and there were verses written in print and sown on the pants, turtlenecks, or coats. Perhaps they were the same from the show’s invitation – “listen to nocturnes, as the forest burns, as ghost dances, in a cookie jar, and the dogs of eternity, bark in unison, out there constant, but in my place, the cat stares at the wall, while I listen to nocturnes, and wonder what makes her purr.”  These words don’t exactly spell out the mystery of what tied the show together, but they suggested the manner in which the collection was conceived – out of a thoughtful and slow process instead of the all-consuming speed that is fashion today. Throughout the pace of the show there was a sense that time has stopped briefly, even for a few moments. 

One of the reason Miyashita closed his successful line in 2009 was that he felt he wasn’t able to express himself in the way he wanted to, due to pressures to make more commercial products at a more rapid pace.  Now as an independent company and brand, he has the luxury of narrating his poetry at a pace he can control without outside pressure. There are no doubts that each look can be further diluted into more commercial pieces for on-and-off-line sales but there is almost not a real need for such dilution with this collection. That’s a great start for day one of the Paris shows with the highly debut anticipated shows from Loewe and Celine on Sunday night.