PARIS – The world’s fashion watchers cried “Bonjour Paris” Wednesday as they bid good-bye to Milan and headed to the City of Light for the last installment of menswear shows for spring-summer 2017.
Here are some highlights:
Valentino’s unfinished business
Twenty-four-year-old Chinese superstar actor Yang Yang hit the front row for Valentino, alongside “American Psycho” musical star Benjamin Walker.
The American actor rocked a check Valentino suit that hit a dapper note very much in keeping with the collection’s opulent venue – the 19th century mansion Hotel Salomon de Rothschild.
The show was all about the “unfinished.”
Faded denim cowboy shirts and jackets had pockets ripped off to produce colour contrasts; and random-looking intarsias on coffee cup brown coats – and on oversize outerwear – had a deconstructed effect.
Mottled camouflage prints on a slim fitting sweater, meanwhile, had a blurry incomplete feel.
Camouflage is now a signature for Valentino’s designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, who have only been doing men’s fashion for a few years.
While many of these looks made the “incomplete” statement in a creative way – with random badges and accessorizing motifs – the styles greatly benefited when the designers widened their repertoire: Like a standout black coat with studs sprinkled, almost haphazardly, on the collar.
The art of the invitation
The age of email and rising ecological awareness doesn’t seem to have left a mark on the fashion industry’s antiquated system of invitations.
Season after season, gasoline-guzzling couriers crisscross Paris to deliver personally to fashion insiders the ever-elaborate, often hand-made, show invites.
Top houses vie for the wackiest or most imaginative idea.
Louis Vuitton and Dior Homme employ trusted calligraphers who immortalize the names of each guest in baroque ink swirls – works of art that usually end up thrown on the runway floor immediately after the presentation.
This season, an invite for a jewelry house show, Surplus Sound System, was a 7-inch black vinyl record, with the show details on the B-side. It drove home the point that old school is the style of choice for Paris fashion.
The invitation to Dries Van Noten’s show was a heavy tablet of pottery with the information stamped on.
The trend for the outdoors and the utilitarian has been seen in myriad Milan spring shows – such as in Prada’s backpacks, Moncler’s multi-pocketed clothes and Gucci’s rainwear.
It also infused Christophe Lemaire’s designs for his eponymous Paris-based menswear house.
And the City of Light, which has seen historic flooding and torrential downpours burst the banks of the Seine River in recent weeks, is one city that could do with a summer raincoat.
A hardy long golden brown, with zippers, flapping lapels and a large asymmetrical pocket opened the Wednesday collection – setting the out-in-the-elements theme. This was carried on in trekking sandals.
A long Arabic tunic mixed contrasted nicely with tailored menswear pants, a moss green loose, jazzy 80s shirt and factory-worker styles.
But the touch of panache by the former Hermes designer was see in the colour palette – brightly colored coats and overalls – in ochre, saddle brown, Siberian snowflake, deep black and Prussian blue.
It was psychedelic gender-bending for Belgian designer Glenn Martens at his wacky collection for Y-project that saw models don slippers on the high-fashion runway.
A loose-fitting yellow satin shirt began the show twinned with cadet grey gathered silken sweat pants – and followed by an oversize lilac suit with tight 80s lapels.
With the show venue’s low shimmering ceiling and speckled lighting, proceedings had a distinct glam-rock vibe.
There was more than a whiff of Pierre Cardin in some space-age oversize buttoned cuffs and silken moon pants.
Alongside the excessive use of colour, they seemed overly outlandish.
But there were some standout pieces in Martens’ creative pot – like a fabulous cobalt sweater with an exploded cable knit motif.