After falling head over heels in love with men’s fall fashion in Milan last week, the Paris shows have left me feeling like I need to change my status to “It’s complicated.” I had high hopes that the super-skinny 60s-inspired shapes, nerdy glasses and fantastic outerwear would continue and I certainly wasn’t disappointed with Valentino’s amazing collection on the first day, which was more than a distillation of the best shows in Milan; it was an elevation. The tailoring was impeccable and, even though you might not show up to the office wearing a cape over a plaid jacket and ever-so-narrow cropped pants, this show made me think about trying it. Checks in bold black and white, Prince of Wales and Black Watch made their way onto some of the best pieces and the touches of fur were just enough to boost the luxury without detracting from the masculinity.
Even the following Mugler show had a fitted black military jacket over narrow pants that I’d wear in a heartbeat and, even if much of the collection looked like wardrobe for a B-movie set in outer space, it seemed like we were on the way to a stellar season.
The next morning brought Rick Owens’ wild arctic creations with the guys dressed in leggings and big furry boots with variations of parkas and tops in blacks and whites that you could break up and wear without anyone staring at you too much. The big frizzy hair, on the other hand, might attract the wrong kind of attention. The models with the buzz cuts looked so much better in the clothes anyway.
Louis Vuitton wasn’t too bad either, with more nicely tailored double-breasted jackets and skinny pants, again over boots that had a chic businessman/Tyrolean peasant vibe probably due to the weird caps. The puffa jackets were the best yet and the Jacobean floral design jackets beat the ones at Dolce that looked like Granny’s embroidery hands down.
A slouchier silhouette began to appear at Dries Van Noten later in the day, where paisleys and Arts and Crafts prints appeared on pajamas and bathrobes morphed into daywear. The “Morning After” theme was very clever, based on clothes a stylish guy would throw on to make a hasty exit before breakfast, but a little odd to be really useful.
On Friday, Ann Demeulemeester presented her characteristically dark collection but gone were the deep jewel tones, replaced by austere black, white and gray. The long frock coats, full pants and long flowing shirts made me think that this is how an Amish-Hassidic priest who listened to Nine Inch Nails would dress. Pretty cool. Kris Van Assche then brought us back to the prevailing 60s mood but this time with more of a punk edge. The color blocking really worked here to create some new shapes without getting too crazy.
From the anticipation around the candle-lined circular runway at Givenchy, it appeared that this was the collection everyone was waiting for. It was a dark show but I think that might be largely because it was actually really dark in there. Like, I wonder if anyone could really tell what they were seeing. We had more skinny pants, long jackets, and more puffa jackets now tied around the waist. Then came the tiny hot pants. For winter. If those don’t keep you warm, you can count on the big oversized sweaters with abstract Robert Mapplethorpe images they were paired with.
The Dior Homme show the next morning was also not bad but, given the success of the spring collection, like that from Givenchy, it was also a little disappointing. The lines were still clean, sharp and slim and the colors mostly dark. Simple jackets in varying lengths had invisible zipper closures and many were belted with buckles that looked like those on airplane seatbelts. A clear triangle-within-a-circle motif was emblazoned across the top half of many looks that was bizarre but kind of chic, like the crew of the Death Star was walking the runway.
Then we come to Hermès, where the sportiness went a little too far. Functional sportswear was produced in the most costly fabrications, from mink and cashmere to crocodile, and then tucked into hiking boots with colored laces so that it all looked like a fucking Macy’s catalog shoot. I get that many designers are skewing more wearable and classic this season but let’s draw the line somewhere, people!
The final day saw Lanvin, which I still just don’t get. Little Alber Elbaz said that this season was supposed to be a play on proportions so they put huge pants with small tops, boxy jackets with leggings and then declared that it was all more wearable than the typical Lanvin collection. I don’t know about Elbaz, but I wouldn’t wear any of it.
The last big show of the week, Hedi Slimane’s debut men’s collection for Saint Laurent, certainly was that: big. The huge set was dominated by an enormous whirling industrial sculpture that looked like a carnival ride from a Mad Max movie and the music was pretty intense, as well. The clothes, on the other hand, recalled cultivated thrift store finds—ripped jeans, chunky sweaters, tattered scarves that you could find at Jet Rag or Wasteland and supplement with Hot Topic accessories for a perfect Goth-Grunge balance. I’m not saying it was bad, although I’d wear most of those looks as fast as I’d wear the weird Lanvin shit, but it’s not really what I expect in a runway collection from one of the world’s most revered houses. They should produce beautiful things and let us dress them down with the old jeans ourselves.
Which reminds me, can anyone get me a discount at Valentino?