At Paris menswear fun trumps function

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 July, 2014, 12:38am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 July, 2014, 12:38am

Designers ditched their recent focus on functionality for something less formal and practical, and so much more fun, for the spring-summer 2015 Paris Menswear shows.

Alessandro Sartori, the artistic director of Italian heritage brand Berluti, proposed an easy take on traditional men's tailoring, pairing technical know-how with a festive feeling. The brand also aimed to raise its street cred while keeping its sartorial flair. But first, let's talk about the eye-popping palette, which included a thrilling mustard green. It looked particularly desirable on a fitted overcoat, a tartan tuxedo and a casually draped silk scarf. That said, the most interesting part of the collection was Sartori's take on tailoring, inspired by the art of origami. The geometric collage with contrasting contours and piping, hand pockets, pleats, collars and lapels stood out and shaped the outfits.

Kim Jones also urged his audience to take a break from everyday life by hopping on a plane to India - Rajasthan to be more precise. "Volez, Voguez, Voyagez" (Fly, Sail, Travel) read the spring-summer 2015 menswear invitation from Louis Vuitton. And indeed, Jones has been travelling a lot through his designs, exploring the "American Dream" and South America's cultural heritage in previous collections. But this time, the designer left the Americas behind and proposed a contemporary take on Indian embellishments by merging them with military-inspired tailoring - bomber jackets, flight suits and pleated shorts. And yet, the Indian touch was a subtle one - including Mothra tie-dye techniques among others - that celebrated traditional craftsmanship rather than Bollywood-inspired exoticism. He also used vibrant patterns inspired by turban fabrics. As Jones himself said, it was all about "India's chic maharaja sportsmen".

But let's go back to the Italian brands, as they've been taking Paris by storm this season. "Forget about old Europe, we're taking you to Venice Beach" could have been the message of Aldo Maria Camillo's new collection for Cerruti. In fact, Camillo changed the brand's aesthetic from old school to too cool for school by proposing trendy LA-inspired runway looks. His tailored pants came in a drop-crotch shape with elastic waistband detailing, while his sweatshirts were adorned with striped rib trims and magnified palm motifs, which enhanced his youthful take on menswear. That said, Camillo never lost sight of Nino Cerruti's tailoring heritage and opted for some smart outerwear, such as loose-fit tuxedos and impeccably cut trench coats next to bomber jackets with bold tartan patterns. And while the collection's west coast touch seemed forced, Camillo succeeded in rejuvenating the brand's philosophy.

Valentino's Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli also offered a refreshing take on menswear. This season was all about "controlled relaxation" and they pulled in the best from summertime nonchalance and utilitarian ready-to-wear to achieve it. The masculinity was well interpreted with loose yet precise volumes and cuts, such as leather trimmed soft coats, woollen shirts and long polo shirts that added some casualness to the collection. But the most striking elements were the many butterfly brocades and colourful flora and fauna patterns (dandelion flower heads and flamingos, among others) that were displayed on Valentino's army-inspired garments.

A universal take on menswear and yet Italian to its very core, the show's soundtrack was an Italian version of Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side.

One designer we never thought could be so jovial is Hedi Slimane. But he proved us wrong and took us on a road trip to Mexico. His improbably thin boys and girls strolled down the runway with their usual dodgy, psych-rock aesthetics. But the most striking part of his collection was the homage to his Tunisian roots, such as djellaba designs and Berber-inspired jewellery.

Lenny Kravitz, who was swaying to Mystic Braves' show soundtrack seemed captivated by the outfits that were shown on the runway. Like it or not, Hedi Slimane's Saint Laurent has won hearts over in the music industry and is slowly doing the same with fashion's A-list.

In fact, those who complained about the designer's interpretation of the French brand a year ago can't wait for their show ticket to arrive in the mail.