Paris Men’s Fall/Winter 2019 | Day 2

by Long Nguyen

 

RAF SIMONS

 

Diptych in art normally refers to a painting or relief carving of some kind that are made in two separate parts and are held together by hinges so that they can be closed or opened slightly, often used as altarpiece for private devotion. In the posh ballroom salons of the ShangriLa Hotel, rather than in the distant out of town factory last June, Raf Simons staged a two part show — thus called ‘Diptych,’ with a lengthy musical intermission completed with a range of moody light shows.  

In this first outing since the Calvin Klein debacle, where the designer’s forward thinking and more artsy collections didn’t jive with the giant commercial behemoth and it’s requisite drive to expand revenue at a rapid pace, Simons impactful show departed from a reflection since launching his line in 1995 and first shown in Paris for fall-winter 1997-1998 at a garage in Bastille. The show started and ended on high positive notes, an optimism that kept the torch of creativity brightly lit. Proving that it is still possible to instill such unfettered creativity into fashion at a smaller scale and away from the bustle of the mass market. It has sure been a long way since that outing in Bastille, but the spirit of youth, a bit of underground culture, and the craft of fashion still permeated and remained pretty much unaltered in this fall show. That spirit coalesced with the manner in which Simons merged past, present, and future together with the attitude and the clothes made for now.

Simons delivered a collection based mainly on knee-length wool coats, leather, and corduroy cast all from different proportions; from the long, skinny black coats from a few of his early shows to the voluminous wool felt double-breasted military like coats that seemed to nearly consume the model.  The first half of the show played out with the music of Joy Division, a favorite of Simons from a 1999 showing. The second portion included a live band, revealed in polished and sophisticated looks. A pair simple cigarette pants in white and light brown anchored the sumptuous outerwear constructed with very classic menswear staple fabric. Outerwear featured meticulous details, such as decoration of hooks with butterflies and flowers hanging from the front chest and back or a slightly gathering of fabrics on the shoulder that seemed to drape and tame those mammoth shoulder silhouettes. There were print and x-ray images sewn onto jackets and protective bike helmets to compliment this new beginning.

 

UNDERCOVER

The ingenuity of Jun Takahashi of Undercover over the years has always been his ability to create an entire fantasy and at times a mixture of history and fiction wholly worldview that enveloped his shows with a powerful narrative that revolved around the clothes.  His collections are a world onto themselves complete with characters known and unknown, invented and reinvented to give his clothes a soul, like last season’s powerful show centered on the many different tribes of warriors and their specific, imaginative and distinctive sartorial styles with models carrying flags like a national pride.  It was also Takahashi’s decision to stop showing his women’s collection and instead focus on the men’s business.  

This time, five models wearing very fancy and medieval red velvet hooded robes, gloves, masks, large rainboots and walking sticks opened the show under a giant hand recalling the poster for the 1971 Stanley Kubrick movie ‘A Clockwork Orange’ at the opening of the set at the old concert space Salle Wagram. This set the time traveling theme for the collection that combined elements of elegance and casual with a splendid array of products all with a specific bend of a fantasy world.  That included a special shared work with Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino inspired by the time traveller stories of Edgar Allen Poe who a few hours prior showed the same space orbit graphics of the flying saucer on track pants, giant puffer coats, and knits tops.  The thirst of the clothes shared elements from different epoques mixing blue lilac robes tied at the waist with an old brown curtain cord, bright green long knit cape, gray turtleneck tracksuit and yellow sneakers in one outfit and white hooded sweat suit under a transparent nylon sleeveless cape. The clothes ranged from several tailored suits like a black windowpane slightly rumple suit paired with white waving mock necks tops and denim coats, pants, cotton sweatshirts and particularly a vast array of long coats all printed with the close up images of Malcolm McDowell as the film’s protagonist Alex DeLarge.  

 

GIVENCHY

A bright red slim tailored single-breasted jacket, a slim flared pants, and fuschia high collar shirt. An acqua blue wide lapel slender single-breasted jacket, orange spread collar shirt, and slim flared pants. A tight blue leather jacket and black flared pants. A black wool flare coat and brown slim pants. A fitted double-breasted three quarter length wool coat and black wool flared pants.  These were among the looks displayed on mannequins floating on beds of grassy gray floral moss at the Givenchy couture salon as a first peak into the expansion of the brand’s men’s collection with a planned runway show in late June for summer 2020.  But the sartorial story told quietly by these clothes provided a narrative and a platform for a separate conversation at Givenchy where Claire Waigh Keller has been doing a coed show since her start in October 2017. 

The conversation here began with the idea of modernizing the free sprit of the 90’s with the deliberate mixture of garments of different genres to provide a wardrobe that is rich in tailoring cuts and couture detailing yet offered an easy but elegant manner of dressing with a combination of traditional and technical fabrics. The slim to flare base silhouette provided the concise shape and more than anything a steadfast conviction the designer placed with this single look as the mainstay of the entire collection.  The flared pants were cut so precisely that they fell just right on the shoes and slightly fluid and soft at the bottom – perhaps incorporating some elements of Givenchy’s women wear.  The belted trench and flared pants was also a classic look of young Parisians growing up in that era.  It was refreshing anti-dote to both the negativity around the world and here in Paris the continuing demonstrations by the ‘gilets jaunes’ that is disrupting even the show schedules and the craving of luxury fashion towards streetwear in recent seasons.  

 

OFF-WHITE C/O VIRGIL ABLOH

In the Carousel du Louvre the center stage was temporarily converted into a park walkway with swaths of earth, fern, and greeneries. This provided the path for models to zig zag their way through wearing series of oversized garments along the latest bright gold down coats awash with “2020” logos. As this was happening a TV announcer dwelled on different past series but also the latest news on the current U.S. government shutdown for the Off-White fall winter show. Virgil Abloh’s show was meant to present ways in which television shaped past and present cultural moments. This concept was translated into black sweats with white figure prints and black pants with NFL football helmets as headgears. This was also presented with cartoon lettering and emblems on a section logo and wordings puffer and hooded sweats.  

An 80’s shape and deconstructed black jackets paired with slouchy denim opened the show helped to set the tone for what followed, an oversize flight bomber jacket with tight pants tucked into tan leather high boots.  Almost every look had that oversized feel from a loose reversible black and orange coat worn with a long white shirt and flared black pants to black nylon slim down jacket and matching down pants.  A series of light grey slouchy plaid suits offered a slightly different range of clothes.

While the show surely provided plenty of merchandise for the brand’s global fans, it would be also great to see the brand embrace more risks in the future as unfettered creativity and innovation are at the heart of the true process of naturally creating coolness in thinking and then in garments.  Fashion is now replacing TV shows of past years as the main source of community and influence.  

JW ANDERSON

For his first menswear show in Paris, JW Anderson embraced his ever romanticism firmly with large inflatable balloons in the shape and image of the earth. Sand dotted along the path around the five rooms decorated with inspiration from the American artist Paul Thek, whose etchings were parsed on the ground as well as silk patterns and curtains hanging from the ceiling.  As much as the show décor was a smorgasbord of many elements meshed together so was the collection, a mix match of different garments in one look.  Long white or pattern shirts worn over long sleeve t-shirts with a shearling scarf and paired with either long pants, black shorts or knee length bloomers. The looks worn with zebra or tiger print high socks and mountain boots.  Shorts and bloomers were the key message as the designer favored them over pants.  

VALENTINO

At Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli washed away the last season’s head to toe logo mania collection for a cleaner palate of dark colors comprised mostly of very light suiting, generous coats and a mixture of sportswear garments. A few items still featured the classic red Valentino logo spread across the chest for greater impact.  This collection saw a loose and relaxed but more formal approach to dressing with suits, jackets and coats dominating in a show that took a radical turn from the spring total embrace of logo mania, that was completely absent this season.  Bravo to the designer who knows when to move on rather than dwell on past successes.  Yet here the new mood in these loose garments was one destined for a younger generation to dress more as grown-ups but not necessarily in the veins of the stricter business attitudes as every look was paired with white sneakers or Birkenstock in lieu of leather shoes.  These slouchy looks are a way for a traditional couture house like Valentino to introduced elements of sportswear to make the house more relevant to today’s consumers.  Even a coat or a jacket here floats on the body as if it were a large sweatshirt or a hoodie – that’s how traditional garments evolve. 

In a rare global collaboration, Piccioli worked with Jun Takahashi of Undercover when they met in Tokyo during Valentino’s presentation lf pre-fall. This meeting yield prints that would be in both collections shown hours apart on the same day.  The time traveler theme inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and the double saucer spaceships and double face was created by Takahashi and now used on coats and jackets that dotted the show.