by Stephen Doig, The Daily Telegraph, January 25, 2017
Let’s hear it for the boys; notes from the front row of the men's style world.
What signifies a “suit” to you? A nice navy single breasted number, or a standard grey pinstripe like the one your dad had? In Paris, designers have unpicked the seams of traditional suits to remake them into something a touch more modern and contemporary, with the corporate connotations done away with entirely. “Everybody says that tailoring is over and nobody wants to wear suits any more”, said Kris Van Assche, the creative director of Dior Homme, at his 10 year anniversary show in Paris. “But I feel that maybe we just haven’t given young guys the right tailoring yet”.
The Belgian designer instead proposed a pairing of refinement and rip-up-the-rule-book cool, with relaxed, airy trousers worn with neat, expertly tailored jackets, dotted with contrasting top-stitching or decorated in studs or hardware. Do we suggest you wear it in the board meeting? No, but the refreshing silhouette - more at ease on the bottom half, structured up top - is worth considering.
The much waited for debut
Berluti, the historic Italian bottier which since 2011 has been the menswear jewel in LVMH’s crown, marked the arrival of its new creative director Haider Ackermann with a degree of fanfare - a suitably wow-worthy show venue in the form of the Grande Palais, and celebrities from Ackermann’s BFF Tilda Swinton to Bryan Ferry in attendance.
Luckily, his debut more than lived up to the theatrics off-catwalk. The designer offered slick suits in alpaca and wool with cropped trousers and boxy jackets, collars popped upwards. Alongside some deliciously juicy colours (his predecessor, Alessandro Sartori, experimented with a method of layering colour upon colour on top of one another) in shades of cobalt, indigo, violet, crimson and fawn, the designer’s evening wear - pink jacquard tuxedos and velvet suits - oozed a certain rock star loucheness.
Founder Nino Cerruti’s voice crackled over the sound system at the Cerruti 1881 show, toasting 50 years of the house and relatively new creative director Jason Basmajian’s first catwalk show for the brand. Traditional emblems that have come to define menswear in the last fifty years (and beyond) were nodded to - houndstooth panels spliced side by side in a collage effect, pinstripes on loose suiting, the camel great coat - alongside a dynamic new range of Cerruti denim, catering to the customer of old while looking ahead to the young guy who’ll be taking up his mantle.
The everyone's-talking-about moment
With Instagram chatter pre-show reaching fever point - would Louis Vuitton, that standard bearer of luxury, be dipping into unchartered territory with a collaboration with hip NY skater clothiers Supreme? - Kim Jones tapped into youth culture by proving the rumours true. The designer enlisted the cult brand -which prompts queues around the block whenever there’s a “drop” - to add its logo and trademark siren red to Vuitton accessories.
Jones also ensured that Vuitton’s luxury credentials were kept firmly intact however, in a collection of beautifully draped coats, loose, soft-fit trousers and elongated knitwear that, said the designer, recalled the 80s downtown scene of New York.
The quiet ones
Alongside the showmanship, Paris-based designers also know how to make clothes that are quietly elegant; beautifully crafted and exactly the kind of thing men want to wear. Designer Paul Helber’s second collection honed in on creating a tight edit of exactly what a man needs from his wardrobe; a roll-shoulder coat in soft grey cashmere, the perfect white shirt and technical outerwear. At Officine Generale, beautiful caramel and dove grey wool coats and neat suede bombers were endlessly covetable, while Hermès' heavy wool rollneck sweaters, minimalist coats and supple, butter-soft leathers were a lesson in paired-back luxury.
The show(men) must go on
Alongside the conceptualism and tricky, cerebral offerings during the Paris men's shows (rough-hewn slabs of felt stuck haphazardly across models at Thom Browne, anyone?), there were touches of take-no-prisoners bravado and spangles. Inside the hushed grandeur of the imposing reading room of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy decorated coats in knuckle-duster clusters of gemstones in lieu of buttons, while Olivier Rousteing at Balmain continued to reinforce his place as ringmaster supreme, launching his men's collection to Freddy Mercury's "The Show Must Go On". The designer riddled jackets, draped tops and suits with heavyweight jewels, lavish embroidery, extravagant embellishment for a more-is-more-is-more sensory assault.
We might not be in the logo mania hinterlands of the 1990s, but there’s been a renewed explosion of logos and branding in fashion of late, some of it ironic, some of it not. Lucas Ossendrijver at Lanvin provided a welcome counterbalance to this with the word ‘NOTHING’ emblazoned over scarves and jackets, the message being that the Lanvin man doesn’t need to wear his logo on his sleeve (or neck) to make a statement. Those came in the form of swamping parkas, deconstructed trench coats and oversized jackets instead.
This article was written by Stephen Doig from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.