Paris Men's Fall/Winter 2019 | Day 5

by Long Nguyen

THOM BROWNE

Ever since his first men’s show in 2003 in New York, Thom Browne has always employed the ‘mise-en-scène’ format of staging his show to resemble a theatrical masterpiece to imbue the collection with meanings beyond the physical garments. The scenery became integral to the clothes, weaving a narrative often absence from fashion – from ice skating rink to military schools, from funeral home to luscious outdoor gardens, and from magical yards to a mineral museum.  At the École nationale des Beaux-arts, Browne covered the ground and seats with transparent plastic packing bubble wrap, along with a linear steel installation that ran down the middle of the runway, creating the sort of environment apt for self-reflection and meditation.

The show opened with eight models, each face partially covered with plastic makeup and all dressed alike in white layered dress walking in a military march manner. The opening provided the feel of a palate cleanser, a complete wiping out of everything to start afresh. From there came a single model wearing an all-white suit, beginning the thematic breakdown and the total submerge of menswear traditions and the applications of womenswear clothing techniques that defy gender classification.  

The focus was on the waist – the central part of the body that dictated how the silhouette will work and how the shoulder and hemline fall into place.  For “womenswear as menswear, everything sits on the waist, sculpted with corsets, tailored with darts, an elongated line, drawn with elongated jackets, long skirts and dresses.”  The suit and jackets were cut slim, emphasizing the waist and merging together into a grey trompe l'oeil one-piece dress that contoured the body.

Divided into twelve groups and composed of three looks each, the first look would be more familiar menswear. The second look saw the degradation and deconstruction of the men’s look and further transformed into a womenswear look using the same fabrics. In each case, the process was repeated as the same outfit underwent a transformation from men’s to women’s clothes.  

The show was indeed a postgraduate study in sartorial construction. Thom Browne is someone whose work is centered around how to make clothes differently, that is by changing the rules.  It takes a real fashion designer, with deep knowledge and mastery of technical skills, to attempt and achieve this in a flawless manner. Despite the magnitude of the deliberate shift from making what are traditionally women clothes for men, all the Thom Browne ‘items’ remained – the repertoire of coats, blazers, hunting jackets, tweeds, tartans, repp stripes, embroidered ducks for the hardened fans.  


LOEWE

Gelbe Modellierung: a 1985 giant cotton wall formation sculpture by the German performance artist Franz Erhard Walther that displayed two jackets and two trousers on separate parts of the interconnected yellow surface was the anchor for Jonathan Anderson’s debut menswear show for Loewe at the Maison de l’UNESCO. The designer merged his sensibilities with the brand’s craftsman to create a collection recognized as a hybrid of traditional men’s clothes and sportswear and an eccentric mixture of elements. Take for example the leather boots-chaps-pants combo the models walked in, the blue cotton striped shirt with fur trims on the shoulders, or a big knit coat with hanging multicolor ribbons.

Fitted jackets and wide pants were the base silhouette of the collection ranging from a light pink or black single-breasted suit with elongated white shirt – an Anderson trademark – to the long brown hooded sweater dress worn with black pants. There was plenty of great knitwear from a long white ribbed sweater decorated with colored pebbles stones, a red and olive striped long crew neck, a brown striped hand knit sweater dress and a giant black wool extended long sleeve with graphic drawings by artist Keith Vaughan. These super long shapes distinguished in the shirts, polos, and sweaters provided the up-tempo fashion quotient for a fine debut full of great merchandises.


HERMÈS

Véronique Nichanian, a long-time menswear designer at Hermès, knows her brand and her customers well. At the Mobilier national, Nichanian offered the right menu to discernable clothes. Made with luxurious and well researched materials at the highest quality available. Season after season, Nichanian applied her knowledge of fabrics to search for ways to establish new techniques and apply them to different types of fabrics. Some examples are tie dyed leather, paper thin lamb skins, and quilted wool flannel. The designer applied small and meticulous changes to the details of each jacket, coat and pants by making these very small adjustments here and there. Adjustments, at times, can be difficult to actually see but will feel different for the customers who purchase and wear the clothes over time.

This time the jacket shape is slightly longer and pants are cut slightly shorter in hues of navy, sage, burnt orange, cigar and parma to show off the latest handmade, leather shoes. The double-breasted and the pinstriped suits had silver dragon buttons. A few of the suits were made from dragon silk, a silk made from genetically modified silkworm so that the silk produced has greater elasticity and strength. The silk shirts were not just regular silk, but a special moulinée silk, handmade in cold water, washed and hand dyed in Nova Scotia. Wool turtlenecks were made from Maxi Torsade 180, the type of wool that is super soft and super chunky. The yarn is steamed twice and absorbs quickly to retain the color of the dye. That’s the difference between a Hermès turtleneck and a regular turtleneck. Hermès customers understand and appreciate this difference. The series of graphic sweaters and the graphic leather baseball jacket surely would appeal to a younger generation appreciative of fine and unrivaled quality clothes.