Paris Fashion Week Men A/W2020 – Round-Up
THE FALL's favourite Paris Fashion Week Men's shows
With the fashion week juggernaut for men already looking at London and Milan in its rearview mirror, the final stop on the tour is arguably the most important one and certainly the one with the most impressive array of designers showing, Paris Fashion Week Men A/W 2020. Whereas London might be seen as the place for more avant-garde, experimental and even modern urban fashion, with Milan leaning more towards tradition and luxury, Paris has always felt more the home of the sharpest, most artistic fashion collections in Europe. Given all this, it was always going to be hard to pull our 10 favourite shows of the week out of the hat, but here they are nevertheless:
One of the things that Balmain has been revolutionising since the appointment of Olivier Rousteing to creative director in 2011 is the impact of its menswear offering.
Since the advent of Rousteing the fashion house has developed the their menswear collections to the point where that side of the business is now almost as big a part of the financial return as the always successful womenswear offerings.
This show season the clear influence on the men’s collection came from Rousteing’s own recently discovered Ethiopian and Somalian heritages and the obvious hot desert colour palette that it brings. So from the outset we were treated to nomadic wrap tops and harem pants in a ‘golden sand’ colour and worn with chunky sandals. The colours, draping and loose fabrics definitely marked a cultural signpost for the collection. As the show progressed the collection gave way to modern, bright and blocked colours that became a really exciting contrast to what came before. Bright red and bright yellow suits were a real change of gear, particularly when those suits featured a wrap closing at the front that finished on the hip that could, conceivably, be described as ‘double breasted’. Even when we got to the spectacular, predominantly gold, graphic print, quilted silk ensembles, the silhouette of soft, comfortable and accessible was still maintained.
Dior’s menswear collection for autumn/winter had the definite aura of ‘French dandy’ to it and that theme seemed to have been used as a way to highlight the famous fashion houses’s renowned artistry in creating clothes. There was no ensemble that didn’t carry an extra design flourish and marked the collection out as impossible to ignore. So, long, metallic grey, A-line satin coats came with equally oversized flower detailing in the same fabric at the breast pocket that incorporated long, fringed extensions (oversized and unusual cuts were an obvious reoccurring element to the collection).
No matter what the flourishes, the baseline standard of Dior’s high-end tailoring was always there to see. So, even when we’re talking about unusually long, knee-length shirts – where one half of it is in a plain solid colour and the other half a fantastically busy paisley graphic print – it still looked perfect under the double-breasted camel coat worn with tailored striped trousers and (wait for it) crushed velour, aqua-marine, forearm-length gloves. What became clear throughout the collection is that with tailoring this on-point it’s very easy to successfully layer for the winter months without looking like a bag lady, even if pieces present unusual, sometimes asymmetric cuts. The highlight of the show had to be the long cape that featured silver and and gold sequining that began at the top and graduated to deep-space black the further down the garment you looked.
Dries van Noten
Flying the flag for Belgian culture comes Dries van Noten, a mainstay in the luxury fashion scene since as far back as the late eighties. The brand is one of a small number that has continued to fight off big corporate involvement in the business. One of the benefits of this is the very personal nature of all of van Noten’s collections. This was another eclectic collection with different combinations in fabrics and textures that produced new and unique creative results. For example, a checked bomber jacket and casual nylon shirt might not sound like the perfect foundation to wear a giant faux fur stole and yet here they seem like natural bedfellows.
Almost as whiplash-inducing was the sudden appearance of military style cropped jackets worn over long overcoats in combat greens and worn with work-boots, or vintage style leather car-coats teamed with boldly coloured, floral board shorts for the winter. One of the main keys to a men’s collection is the tailoring and van Noten didn’t disappoint here either. Even the denim was cut in such a sharp way as to remind you of the rock ‘n’ roll life you perhaps wished you were living instead – particularly when teamed with bold ‘prairie style’ shirts. All of which should tell you that Dries van Noten is still an important name to follow in luxury fashion.
Artistic director Clare Waight Keller indulged the in the tailoring heritage of Givenchy and added little design touches that made the autumn/winter menswear collection for 2020 just that little bit ore special. With nothing but a cursory glance all the things you expected to see were there – blazers, suits coats, trousers, etc. It was only when you looked a little closer and examined the pieces did you find the accents that made this a Givenchy collection. For an example of this twist on the norm you had to look no further than the zipped, elasticated ribbed cummerbund worn under the bright red suit that created a whole new perspective for a standard men’s staple. Another example was the checked, charcoal grey blazer that was not so much double-breasted in style as it was ‘wrap around’, with the blazer fastening almost on the ribcage via an ornamental kilt pin instead of buttons.
Other suits featured this ‘wrap’ effect to varying degrees while some single-breasted suits opted for traditional one button fastening and a reliance on colour and quality of tailoring for their ‘wow’ factor. The large cowboy hats that constantly made an appearance added a little drama to the collection, particularly when teamed with the ankle length black coat to present a look even Clint Eastwood would have coveted in his Westerns days.
Issey Miyake HOMME PLISSÉ
Over recent seasons Issey Miyake has taken to putting on a show each collection in the true sense of the word, using regular people, musicians and performers to give their clothes a life and vibrancy perhaps not seen on other catwalks during show season. It’s a dynamic that works so well for Miyake’s easy to wear, loose pleated ensembles. And unlike another famous Japanese designer on this list, Miyake loves working with bold colours. So lime greens, deep purples, yellows, reds and blues (and different combinations of them all) are just as at home in the collections as the standard black and white.
Sometimes though it’s the monochrome outfits that can produce the most spectacular results, like the giant coat featuring a bold, almost geometric black and white pattern that will ensure you’ll be noticed for miles around this winter. Or there were the light and dark grey morning suits in Miyake’s signature ribbed material that definitely were not made to be worn with a top hat.
Conventional wisdom tells you that it’s not possible for a designer to be as creative with men’s clothing as they are with women’s. Well, designers like Jonathan Anderson have built careers on flouting conventional wisdom. His womenswear collections are always journeys into new shapes, unique silhouettes and unusual ways to wear things. Those traits are also true of his menswear. The creativity isn’t dialled down for male sensibilities and so we were presented with a collection every bit as innovative as his womenswear. Unusual silhouettes were abound; challenging men to think more expansively about how they want to express themselves this winter.
Coats had an almost feminine A-line shape to them, or were essentially layers of loosely structured luxurious fabric, with giant ornamental buckle detailing on the front. Fitted knitted tops were finished off at the hem with layers of frills. Other knitwear pieces defied accurate physical description altogether, with their combination of folds, colours, textures, layers and ornamentation. There were even culottes style shorts for the winter – oversized, loose and in warm fabrics – and even knee and calf-length ‘man-dresses’ worn over trousers. All of which confirmed that Jonathan Anderson is still one of the few designers today able to consistently and successfully push the envelope in both men’s and womenswear.
Fittingly, Jonathan Anderson’s artistic flair was also what made the collection from his other creative outlet, Loewe, one of the stand-out shows of the season. Here, the line between women’s and menswear was deliberately blurred even more than his own collection. That’s not to say the clothes were simply non-descript genderless and it wasn’t just that the cut of the pieces exhibited a distinct femininity either. Here there were real questions asked about who ‘should be allowed’ to wear what. So we were presented with near ‘hybrid’ outfits – a man’s blazer and a full ballgown were combined into one outfit for a look from the best of both worlds. Coats came with caped sleeves and feminine round necks that again blurred those lines of demarcation we’re all used to.
When something came along that seemed to neatly fit in one category – like the beautiful shearling leather coat – it was immediately upended with with something completely gender fluid – like the double-breasted, empire line coat with the extravagantly rolled lapels. There were other highlights to this eclectic collection – oversize shirts with giant duck graphics on the front, near harlequin-esque knitted onesies, knit cardies with feather boa detailing around the collars and ribbed knitwear adorned with coloured rhinestones.
Where Virgil Abloh finds the time to create four collections a year for Off-White, two collections for Louis Vuitton Men, as well as being a working DJ, music producer and film producer is anyone’s guess. It’s just a testament to his talent that so many commitments still has yet to dilute the quality he gets out of each one. And his skills as a true Renaissance Man was evident in the new collection for his passion project once again. There were many new silhouettes to enjoy throughout the show – whether that was with shirts that incorporated tie straps (worn loose) at the cuffs and the hems, or suits with oversized jackets incorporating cut out circles and semi-circles on the pocket flaps, hems an in the body of the jacket itself, something always stood out.
Another thing to stand out, that was seen on a lot of catwalks for A/W2020, was the use of bold and uncompromising colours. It wasn’t enough for something to be red, it had be bright cherry red, or canary yellow, hunter green or chocolate brown. It became clear this was a collection for those who live between the twilight zone of formal and casual wear in their everyday lives and who never have time to separate them. Given the nature of the collection, it’s not something Off-White enthusiasts will have to worry over this winter. At all.
Since his departure from the creative team at Calvin Klein, Simons seems to have focused his efforts on his eponymous label and the capsule collections he creates with other brands (Fred Perry, Adidas, etc). The result is another strong collection for one of the biggest talents in fashion. The theme here seemed to be ‘do the basics well and build on it’. So there were no bold colours here for autumn/winter. Everything was on a base of black with slate greys and deep blues added in for good measure. Dinner suits came in traditional single-buttoned, double breasted style but with a twist of unfinished fringing along the seams of the legs. The formal tailored coats came with cape-style slits for the arms rather than sleeves.
Simons also leaned heavily into faux fur this show season, with men’s fur coats, scarves and ‘body Muffs’ (we don’t know how to officially describe them) sitting comfortably alongside the shearling versions featuring a pleasingly knotted and straggly effect to the shearling itself. The knitwear also demanding attention for being clean, unfussy and impeccably cut to fit the body. And, to carry on the narrative started by the body Muff, we also had men’s fur lined hand muffs featuring a number of different slogans and motifs.
Owens is bit of an enigma in luxury fashion. He’s the Californian born American fashion designer that seems to have been embraced by the European scene as one of our own. A large part of that acceptance will be down to his very unique, almost European aesthetic that often verges on the spectacular and avant-garde. There really is no mistaking how Owens approaches fashion design and if you want to be a part of that creativity you have to make compromises. For example, the various versions of the knitted unitards that opened the collection practically demanded a long, lithe body to be able to really pull them off successfully away from the catwalk.
The silhouette created by the exaggerated pointy shoulders that punctuated the tailoring in the collection demanded just as much attention, as did the sudden bursts of unusual colours for the winter – whether it was the baby blue, cracked leather shirt or the burnt orange, single-breasted, single-buttoned bolero jacket, also in leather. Clear highlight of the collection was the giant wool coat, with even more exaggeratedly pointy shoulders, worn over ultra-wide wool wool trousers in the same colour. If ever you felt the need to be succumbed by a look, this outfit was it.
There’s a joke that goes: ‘Yamamoto will work in almost any colour, as long as it’s black’. It’s the kind of joke borne from the truth. Yamamoto is a master of arts when it comes to manipulating and layering black. And heading into his 77th year it’s clear he’s not running dry of ideas anytime soon. Again we were presented with a collection that mixed and matched fabrics, lengths and styles as opposed to mixing colours. Asymmetry was a reoccurring theme, even when it came down to the detailing on some outfits. This offered the chance to reveal something even more intriguing underneath that might have been totally obscured otherwise.
The familiar Yamamoto silhouette was sometimes broken up with wraps of material or oceans of long, linked chain accessories. When the palette did briefly stray from the regularly scheduled programme we were treated to almost punk-rock style distressed tartans seen in one degree or another on long coats, distressed jeans and combat pants. Yamamoto also redefined the duffel coat by adding oversized buttons and extra long button loops that made the whole thing sit right in that sweet spot of double and single-breasted.
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