Nods to David Bowie were everywhere in Paris. Whether as an embroidered motif on a Lucien Pellat Finet jumper for Thom Browne's quirky military styling (think runway models in uniforms with heels and red lipstick) or as a youthful rock 'n' roll metaphor from Saint Laurent, you simply couldn't escape the Paris menswear shows without spotting a reference to the British glam rocker.
Leading the pack for spring-summer 2014 was Hedi Slimane's collection for Saint Laurent. His "heroin-chic" and malnourished looking boys with a "greased lightning" attitude kicked off the show wearing sequined and sleek smoking tuxedos or teddy and leather jackets worn over cropped Breton-striped jumpers and paired with high-waisted slim pants that clung so tight that they could have been second skin.
Meanwhile, Kenzo's Carol Lim and Humberto Leon left the Asian-inspired warrior style of their last collection (showcased at Pitti Uomo) and returned to their California roots with a collection inspired by the beaches of the West Coast … Venice beach, to be more precise.
The looks featured hand-drawn graphic patterns of waves and chunky stripes in shades of blue as well as typical Californian slogans in black and white fonts which adorned breezy linen trousers, boxy jumpers, neoprene tees and sporty blousons with functional openings on the sides - the ideal L.A. skater-boy wear.
Kim Jones at Louis Vuitton played up the American Dream with a luxurious road trip through the United States, exploring the beloved stereotypes from boy scout, preppy mama's boy, to rebel outsider and prom king.
Another trend was the intrusion of sportswear into formal tailoring. A case in point were Kris Van Assche's collections - the one for his eponymous brand and another for Dior Homme. The "less is more" designer kept his style sleek and clean, but also turned out to be a fierce pattern player. At Dior, his cubist patchwork on monochrome silhouettes could be seen on various suits in shades of rusty Bordeaux and dusty grey.
Finally, Aldo Maria Camillo at Cerruti 1881 deserved a standing ovation. The brand has long struggled to find a style - and to keep its designers for more than two or three seasons. But the winds of change that Camillo brought not only saved the maison's reputation but gave a beautiful take on Nino Cerruti's heritage.
Particularly impressive was a row of sleekly tailored trenches and jackets belted for a high-fitted waistline, bringing a fresh and sporty fit to formal tailoring. The designer's fabric blends were also highly desirable: iridescent wool lamé, wool nylon, rare ramie fabric and silk mikado emphasising the sophisticated yet active-wear-inspired silhouettes.
Camillo also explored various optical patterns: paisley-shaped motifs and embroideries actually turned out to be nautical prints and shirtings structured with cotton voile in a nod to the classic Breton stripes. Bold and beautiful.
Designers who shone in the City of Lights:
Ackermann's new menswear debut in Paris was quite nonchalant. In the arty atmosphere of a dilapidated atelier space, the designer introduced a particular look: soft tailoring, Asian elements and sportswear-inspired "rude boy" aesthetics. Boxy silk and leather blousons were paired with cropped pajama pants and adorned with tattoo-like, dragon-shaped embroideries. Long overcoats, shawl collar tuxedos that came with silky polka dot or striped scarves and iridescent drop-crotch pleated pants were particularly outstanding. A true homage to a raw yet sensual masculinity.
Guillaume Henry took us to the deep south of France. Think a glass of grenadine pastis and an artisanal atelier - this is how his runway show felt. This season, he created the well-mannered man to match his women's wear line, Lolita. Caban coats and overcoats with patched pockets and oversized shirt collars came with high-waisted shorts and cropped pleated trousers for an impeccable schoolboy look. An apricot men's suit with a woodcut surface pattern showed an interesting take on texture and pushed the designer's usual boundaries. The fashion house's preppy Parisian style is here to stay.
Comme des Garçons
Rei Kawakubo dismantled traditional cuts, with silhouettes morphing through different styles, and yet her collection was a harmonious evolution through a men's wardrobe. Gothic layering was a must, starting with dark blue blazers and trenchcoats adorned with flowing muslin tails, which were worn over a voile shirt, a further light-blue shirt and ruched pants that looked three-dimensional. Then Kawakubo moved on with a 1990s touch: American plaid and Breton stripes gave flair to men's costumes, followed by sporty black and white silhouettes, adorned with trendy headscarves.