PARIS FASHION WEEK – TIME, UNIFORMS AND EVOLUTION. Journey in time, definition of uniforms and evolution of visions mark the fall/winter ’15/’16 installment in Paris Men’s Fashion Week
Nemeth’s pattern was reinterpreted on Louis Vuitton’s runway
The fashion industry has a different perception of time. Remember the Asian-influenced looks from Louis Vuitton? Or the musicians-inspired collection from Paul Smith? Perhaps you can also recall the out-of-the-earth setting presented by Kenzo. But all of those, despite having seemingly been floating for quite some time in the digital sphere, were in fact spring/summer ’16 shows. The clothes will only be available next year. The cycle of fashion requires spring/summer pieces to be shown in January (when it is cold in Europe and the States), and fall/winter pieces in June (when it is hot in the capitals of fashion).
But there is no denying that the concepts of time—how various cultures revolve around certain time periods and the relevance of time—are all sources of inspirations for designers. When it comes to fashion weeks, however, an oft-repeated mantra is “trend always revolves.” And so, each season we are served with another interpretation of a different decade. But this fall/winter, something different came about. References from the past as well as nostalgic journeys supplied the creative directors with a different way of looking at the days of yore, and thereby shedding light on our personal past.
Dior Homme brought a group of musicians to serenade the audience
Kim Jones at Louis Vuitton, for instance, opted for a reflective journey to his quite distant past, to the days when new designers lit up London’s fashion scene in the 1980s. He revived the works of his personal hero, the late Christopher Nemeth, by incorporating his iconic patterns on every piece of the collection. The show was a most fitting tribute, and went so far as to include a soundtrack comprising Nemeth’s favorite songs played by his own friends to accompany the parade of models.
In a similar throwback moment, Raf Simons reminisced on his days as a university student in Belgium. For his fall/winter ’15/’16 collection, though, he did not mention a specific timeframe nor his personal heroes. What he did was to put youth on a pedestal, to bring about nostalgia for things synonymous with youth. In Belgium, this concept took the form of a white lab coat scrawled with doodles, which is something that kids can easily replicate. Simons also had trousers with elongated silhouettes and plenty of sleeveless outerwear options that were collegiate but evocative of that offbeat, awkward individual back in school.
This season’s signature white lab coat on Raf Simons’ runway
On Saint Laurent’s stage, attendees were reminded with the cool gangs in school, those early adopters of wicked trends or the rock ‘n’ roll gangs who readily pushed the boundaries of dressing. The men wore skinny trousers, at least one leather item and a piece or two with especially striking patterns. It was creative director Hedi Slimane’s formula, but one that has now been explored further: Those heeled boots sported by the male models indicated an explicit nod to a more feminine approach.
Lanvin’s print punctuated individuality
Within the corridors of time, where one cannot escape the reality of becoming old, Rick Owens seemed to abhor growing. He still experiments; he still says what he thinks out loud; and he still gets playful whenever he wishes to. And so, the idea of being a boy—which he packaged in the form of triangular holes that clearly exposed each model’s genitals—took the stage, and social media, by storm. Exposure of private areas aside, there were tunics, leather jackets and loose shorts worth looking into.
Hermès created clothes for men to wander
But if Owens does whatever he pleases, Kris Van Assche at Dior Homme is the exact opposite. Suits have always been the bread and butter of the house. So, Van Assche orchestrated—quite literally, as he invited a group of musicians to play throughout the show—a runway filled with variations of formal dressing ensembles. Suits with tailcoats, suits with caps, experimental “suits” comprising denim jackets and leather trousers, suits with patterned vests as well as suits with pins that were not only exceptionally made and put together, but also added a sense of intrigue to the definition of suiting.
The idea of suits as a uniform, however, was challenged by Lucas Ossendrijver and Alber Elbaz in Lanvin. Their uniform this season was grey, and it slowly evolved to incorporate touches of individuality through prints, furs and colors. They closed the show with a series of head-to-toe black outfits that signaled a harder, more uncertain future. Contrastingly, Valentino saw the future as an opportunity to continue reinventing its heritage. Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri, the brand’s creative directors, found a young Melbourne-based artist named Esther Stewart, whose geometric paintings became the vocal point of the brand’s collection this season. It was, surprisingly, every bit Valentino: classic, imaginative and almost poetic.
Givenchy delved into the dark side
Quite appropriately, two of arguably the most successful menswear houses from La Ville Lumière, Hermès and Givenchy, pulled out all the stops this season, each sticking to their respective creative directors’ own visions that season after season have yielded significant increases in sales. Hermès’ Véronique Nichanian delivered luxury like no other as her vision evolves, as always, from one collection to another. The suits and sporty separates appeared utilitarian at first, and they actually were. But those garments were also made from luxurious materials such as silk, cashmere, mink and even crocodile skin. This understatedly simple style would undoubtedly appeal to discerning men with sophisticated tastes who can afford being a flâneur forever.
“References from the past as well as nostalgic journeys supplied the creative directors with a different way of looking at the days of yore”
Valentino’s take on geometric art
Ultimately, the most impactful show of the season was the one thrown by Givenchy. In short, it channeled what has always been at the back of Riccardo Tisci’s head: his “darkest obsessions.” This fall/winter, we were treated to a cornucopia of sinister bits, deliciously devilish details and vibrant patterns. But still, Tisci remained faithful to one of Givenchy’s best-concealed strength in menswear: tailoring. And tailoring is unmistakably what underlines the business of menswear for such a long time; now we are simply seeing it evolve.
Text Gabriela Yosefina