Winter's tale: Paris menswear autumn-winter fashion shows
Paris menswear shows offer everything from pyjama daywear to luxury explorer gear
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White was the colour of Paris menswear fashion shows for autumn-winter. But it was not in the clothes. The last of five frenetic days of collections saw the City of Light turn into the city of frost, with snow blanketing Paris and reducing its grand buildings and monuments to the purest of shapes.
It's perhaps appropriate that designers Alber Elbaz and Lucas Ossendrijver explored shapes and proportions for Lanvin's menswear collection.
With a futurist and sporty edge, some of the silhouettes expanded in baggy coats, boxy jackets, and voluminous pants with a low slung crotch. Others were shrunk, for instance, in a sexy fitted black leather jacket with square geometric sections, a tight pentagon-shaped tank top, or skinny pants.
Large hats and trilbies cropped up at John Galliano and at Berluti. The trend for trousers was for the cut to expose the boot as seen in Carven and Juun J.
Designers including Raf Simons and Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent also dabbled in blowing up traditional patterns such as Madras, Prince of Wales check and houndstooth.
Perhaps it was the recent death of Maurice Herzog, the first man to scale the 8,000-metre Annapurna, that inspired Louis Vuitton to scale the Himalayas for his winter menswear outing. Whatever the reason, it worked - with designer Kim Jones turning out an effortless, luxury collection.
He brought lashings of fur and the snow leopard as a motif - naturally, alongside his bread-and-butter sharp suits. But the snow leopard stole the show - whether in needle punched jacquard on a light double-breasted coat, or in collars, ties and pocket squares, and even in one show-stopping laser-cut mink coat. The finale included sumptuous floral prints in silk and cashmere on tuxedos and nightgowns.
Valentino explored new landscapes in its first menswear show in Paris, mixing London's Savile Row with a dash of British punk rock. Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli say their decision to move from the Italian menswear trade show Pitti Uomo to the more publicised Paris catwalk reflected this confidence in their aesthetic. Plays on patterns featured highly wearable single-breasted suits that harked back to the 1960s. Some looks could have been worn to a country club. There was also a strong, rebellious undercurrent that Piccioli calls a nod to Mick Jagger.
"As a man, you know a suit, but you can have a different point of view," Piccioli says.
Gladiatorial combat is in the air for Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci.
The Italian designer used hundreds of candles to make an ominous catwalk arena, lighting the way for the models who filed by in 48 mainly black-and-white looks. The references were subtle but unmistakable: square breastplate-like photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe printed on T-shirts, sweaters and tank tops. Winter bubble jackets, tied round the waist, fell in the shape of a legionary's skirt. Leather shoes shined provocatively with a silver armour band.
There was, however, a sense of continuity with previous season's styles - in a long grey coat that lacked lapels, for instance, which evoked the ecclesiastical style of last season's show.
Dior Homme continued the on-trend military style with a futurist aesthetic that had a fair amount of mileage in other shows, too.
It was cosmic musing for Kris Van Assche, who injected a space-age fibre into the house's DNA of fitted black suit, white shirt and black tie. A sanitised all-white set saw elegantly suited, droid-like gentlemen file by in Saturday's show with galactic high collars and super high buckled waists.
At times there was a slight feel of vintage Pierre Cardin - the collection's starting point was apparently the 1997 sci-fi film Gattaca. One result of this futurist exploration was the businessman as superhero. A red pinstripe recurs as a futuristic cult-like symbol, a triangle within a square; shoe heels are encased in a smooth, clear plastic so they don't leave a trace; and traceless, too, are the smoothly covered zipper fastenings.
In Raf Simon's recent womenswear designs for Christian Dior, waists were cinched in a reworking of the '50s bar jacket with peplum. Van Assche added his menswear voice to the fashion conversation by echoing this style through delineating the waist. He raised it, military style, through a belt almost halfway down the torso.
Dries Van Noten set himself a tough challenge for autumn-winter 2013, aiming to produce clothes for men "that may not ever have been in their wardrobe". Considering that one main theme of the show was the use of pyjamas for day jackets and outerwear, in this challenge the Belgian designer most definitely succeeded. That is, of course, provided there are no sleepwalkers out there with black, orange and paisley pyjamas in their closet. The result of this unorthodoxy? One of the most elegant shows Van Noten has done in recent times. The pyjama style was worked luxuriously in soft and heavy brushed jacquards, cashmere and double-quilted silks and velvets. As ever, Van Noten used contradictions as the dynamic of his wardrobe. Feminine fabrics, as well as tight pants, contrasted with the boyish, slouchy forms of the loose jackets and sweaters - creating plays on volume. This was no-rules dressing at its best.
Hermès has become a byword for simple, unpretentious luxury. With panache, veteran menswear designer Veronique Nichanian proved this again in a classy and masculine showing. A more muted palette than last season was broken up with bright flashes of golden yellow. There was no far-flung concept, gimmick or muse, unlike most Paris shows, simply because none was needed. Nichanian - who's been at the helm of this family-run business for 22 years - lets the clothes do the talking.
The 44 looks ranged from on-trend loose but structured naval trenches to short peacoats, tight black calfskin pants, via turtlenecks, jacquard silk pullovers and fitted double-breasted tuxedos in black wool and mohair that were fit for a prince.
Is there a formula for Hermès' consistent success? "No, no. There's no secret. But it's not about ostentation, pretention or trying to show you've got money," says Hermès CEO Patrick Thomas. "It's just the simplicity and excellence of the fabrics."
There was an air of the self-searching '70s student in Hedi Slimane's debut menswear show at the rebranded Saint Laurent. Long, striped, thick-knit scarves, oversized jackets and ripped skinny jeans were worn by shaggily coiffed models who strode grumpily down the catwalk. Slimane mixed up violently clashing styles but at least one thing was clear: the wardrobe confusion was intentional. This was seen most clearly in a look that combined leather motorbike pants in black and white with zippers, yellow tan Cuban heels, a casual oversized check shirt and a truncated red-carpet tuxedo. Some ensembles ended up working through pure eccentricity.
Alas, like in Slimane's womenswear debut, the confusion translated into the silhouettes. Great individual pieces were almost drowned out because of droopy coats, big flaccid capes and floppy scarves.