Eleven Things To Know – Paris Men’s Fashion Week
A curated look at menswear’s latest trends.
So Travis Scott’s collaboration with Dior was a riot — literally. The French fashion house unveiled the collaboration on Friday in front of 500 guests at its first physical men’s runway show in 18 months. The event drew a large crowd outside, which surged forward and knocked over a security barrier when the singer left the venue, forcing him to retreat back inside — before reemerging to commune with his fans in an impromptu street mosh pit. Backstage after the show, the situation was equally chaotic, as photographers jostled for a shot of the rapper with Dior’s artistic director for men’s wear Kim Jones, who vainly pleaded for social distancing.
It was the first major celebrity fashion moment in Paris since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and one befitting Scott’s status as a pop cultural icon. “He’s a cultural phenomenon, and culture is something that the young generation want to associate with, especially when they’ve been away from everything,” Jones said. After three seasons of online shows, each with a different artist as guest collaborator, his decision to link up with a musician could not have come at a better time. “It gets people excited. Dior’s done particularly well in the last year. Everywhere you go, there’s a queue outside the store. We’ve been selling all sorts of things to all sorts of people, and I just want to continue to grow that message,” the designer explained.
It’s the first time Dior has designed a full collection with a musician, and Jones made sure the house’s codes were front and centre, making tailoring — and particularly his signature Oblique jacket — the backbone of the lineup, although flared pants added a ’70s twist to the look. Scott brought in further psychedelic influences, from the sun-bleached pastels and acid green of the colour palette, to the giant mushrooms and cacti dotting the desert-like set, which symbolized the performer’s home state of Texas and his creative collective Cactus Jack.
“The cactus is one of my enduring inspirational plants,” said Scott, adding that his birth name is Jacques and his mother calls him Baby Jack. “It’s a label and a movement, an idea and an inspiration that we try to instil and keep moving, trying to help the world with new design and inspirational experiences.” Naturally, he provided the throbbing show soundtrack, including a new track called “Lost Forever,” cowritten with James Blake and Westside Gunn.
Jones noted that Christian Dior visited Texas on his first trip to the U.S. in 1947. “We’ve basically done the reverse journey via Travis,” he remarked. Western-style touches included python prints, a dusty suede jacket and a double Saddle bag with a stirrup handle. Graphics ranged from Cactus Jack’s signature hand-drawn graphics to a new version of the Dior Oblique logo spelling out the word “Jack.” It turns out Bernard Arnault, head of Dior’s parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, personally OK’d the irreverent take on one of his most valuable pieces of intellectual property. “I knew he’d love it or hate it, and he got it completely,” Jones said. “He likes to see energy and fun. He’s seen everything in the world. I always enjoy spending time with Mr. Arnault because of his eye. He knows exactly what he likes and he knows exactly what works — that’s why he’s Mr. Arnault.”
It’s easy to see why the luxury mogul would roll out the red carpet for Scott, who has collaborations with brands including Nike, Playstation, Epic Games and Dover Street Market under his belt. The musician’s collaboration with McDonald’s last year resulted in meat shortages and helped to drive up the fast food giant’s shares. Online chatter around the Cactus Jack Dior collection homed in on the new skate-inspired sneakers, which Dior is no doubt hoping will match the success of its Air Jordan trainers released last year. No matter what the commercial results, the amount of brand heat generated by Friday’s event was priceless. Jones will be tracking another barometer of success. “It’ll be interesting to see how many young kids you see wearing suits now after this, because he’s a big influence. I don’t like doing things for hype, I like doing things for exciting the consumer,” he said. – Joelle Diedrich.
Véronique Nichanian delivered an upbeat collection for spring, defying the gloomy weather — and sprinkle of rain — with a lively offer for her first runway show since the onset of the pandemic. She continued to push forward with her hybrid, indoor-outdoor thrust, proposing hooded parkas, two-toned jackets with patches of technical fabrics and leather overshirts. In a burst of optimism, a bold, thickly knit sweater came in gradations of tangerine and pink, while a button-up cardigan faded from grey to a bright turquoise. “It aims to encourage people to get out and roam,” Nichanian said of the lineup, as quoted in the show notes.
As the fashion world rushes to meet consumers stepping back into society, many are betting on louder, hyped-up propositions — club themes and psychedelic motifs abound. But then there’s Nichanian, who is steadily building a fresh repertoire for younger classes of luxury consumers — a bit more discreet, for sure, but nonetheless interesting. The label’s playful side was relayed through the details, like the perforation delineating the house’s Quadriga horsehead motif on a shirt, zig-zag stitching — the kind you might see on a boat sail — running sideways on a windbreaker, and the zip-up blouson in a technical fabric, printed like a traditional silk scarf. In an understated nod to youth culture, the bottom of the Bolide bag was in the shape of a skateboard. A new silhouette emerged, too, drawing on cropped jackets and high-water trousers, worn with canvas high-top sneakers, successfully channelling the famous nonchalant French attitude. Accessories included belts made of rope or technical knits, with hook clasps and “H” buckles, sandals and suede goatskin ankle boots, as well as bags in military canvas. The house teamed for the third time with director Cyril Teste, who continued to bring fresh ideas to the evolving craft of fashion presentations.
The partnership has proven successful for capturing the mood, relaying the excitement of a show through a screen when in-person events were not possible, and this time, offering a view on details that would be lost in a traditional show, thanks to movie theatre-sized screens alongside the runway. The show was held outdoors in the courtyard of a favourite Hermès show venue, France’s Mobilier National building, home to the state-owned furniture.
Perched on boxy seats, the audience donned black rain capes by the label Rains. “Unforeseen events stimulate creativity,” Nichanian said. “I had to reinvent my approach to designing and presenting clothes.” Reinvention has indeed been a buzzword during this choppy period, and it’s clear the historic house approaches the concept with great care. But the role of experience feels equally relevant, especially when considering that Nichanian’s tenure stretches back to 1988, serving as a reminder that with disruption also comes the opportunity for the well versed to shine. — Mimosa Spencer
‘Tis the season of the mega-collaboration.
Just hours after Dior revealed it was teaming up with Travis Scott on its spring 2022 men’s collection, Louis Vuitton dropped another bombshell during Paris Fashion Week: The French luxury brand has partnered with Nike on new versions of its iconic Air Force 1 sneakers.
The shoes, which come in 21 colourways, were unveiled on Thursday as part of Virgil Abloh’s men’s collection for Vuitton, but additional details were scarce. Asked whether they would be made available for sale, the house merely said: “Stay tuned for more details.”
The launch marks a full-circle moment in hip-hop culture. Abloh, who has a highly successful collaboration with Nike through his Off-White label, was inspired by the cover of the 1988 album “It Takes Two” by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock. It shows E-Z Rock wearing a Nike Air Force 1 basketball trainer altered with a swoosh adorned in the Louis Vuitton monogram.
“The cover embodied the hip-hop community’s early practice of hacking together high fashion and sportswear, sidelining diverging brands with equal reverence. A cultural symbol in its own right, today the Nike Air Force 1 serves as an objet d’art emblematic of self-generated subcultural provenance,” Vuitton said in its collection notes.
Or as Outfitgrid founder Dennis Todisco commented on Instagram: “When the fake becomes real.”
For Abloh, the U.S.-born son of Ghanaian immigrants, it’s yet another chapter in a narrative that has seen him rise from outsider to kingmaker. He acknowledged as much in a short speech to his team, gathered in a cinema in Paris for the premiere of his collection film, titled “Amen Break” after a famous drum sample.
“Fashion can make you feel like things are impossible. We’re a part of a team that can make people feel a specific way. And through this body of work that we’re about to see on the screen, we deconstruct and dissolve and melt away this idea that fashion is elitist, or fashion is for only a select few,” he said.
Indeed, Abloh has blown open the gates of luxury to a whole new category of participant, from the kids who line up for his sneaker drops to the talent that takes part in his shows.
Musicians GZA, Goldie, Saul Williams, Lupe Fiasco and Shabaka Hutchings appear in the film alongside “Les Misérables” actor Issa Perica, in a storyline inspired by the classic Japanese kung fu film “Lone Wolf and Cub.” Chess is a sub-plot, inspired by the cover of GZA’s seminal album “Liquid Swords,” as well as Vuitton’s signature Damier motif.
In fashion terms, the theme translated into a plethora of check motifs, on items ranging from luxed-up track suits to tailored suit jackets paired with floor-length skirts, in a nod to traditional garments ranging from kilts to kendo uniforms. Checkered bodysuits served as an underpinning for a fuchsia suit, a silver foil jacket and pants, and sober black outfits inspired by martial arts garb.
The central idea was a confrontation between tailoring and trackpants, which materialized into a human chess game — though there was ultimately no winner. “I’m not choosing between one or the other. My signature is both,” Abloh said, noting that the logo of the film contains a yin-yang emblem. “That symbol fits perfectly in my canon.”
Hence the leap between his new-gen suits — think short, belted jacket and pooling pants — and the raver elements in the collection, including airbrushed monogram-embossed leather jackets, and an outfit pieced together from rainbow-coloured flyers printed on leather, featuring the logo of Goldie’s record label Metalheadz.
Abloh said he wasn’t playing along traditional gender lines either. “We have straight-up A-line skirts. It’s liberating in 2021,” he said, pointing to a black-and-white rain jacket worn over a hoop skirt. The designer considers it as the natural evolution of a year that has seen social issues from Black Lives Matter to trans rights take centre stage.
“The next thing in fashion isn’t in fashion. It’s in people, it’s in the atmosphere, it’s in the streets, it’s in the socio-political,” he said. “Decision, gender, diversity: those aren’t even hot topics. That’s top line. That’s already been established. Now, it’s developing men’s wear into showing the freedom that can be.”
Now on his seventh collection for the house, Abloh feels increasingly legitimate in delivering his point of view. “I’m older, so I don’t feel the fear of being young and trying to stake a claim or aim high,” he said. Yet the striver in him is never far below the surface: by bringing the bootleg back to the source, he’s scored yet another win for the culture. — Joelle Diedrich.
Growing up in Northern Ireland, Jonathan Anderson remembers going out to the clubs on Friday night, which involved “lots of aftershave” and experimenting with different kinds of fashions. He channelled that anything-goes, hedonistic spirit into his spring men’s collection for Loewe, which goes from handsome tailored coats in the Spanish house’s Anagram logo or glossy cactus leather to what he described as “full disco ball.” Cue the show video, which depicts a young man in a tinsel-fringed tank and shorts dancing with abandon in a nightclub in Marseille, laser beams slicing the air. Other revellers showed up in sequined, zebra-motif shorts and tops, or neon knits layered up like glow-stick bracelets. “It’s about dressing outside of your comfort zone, or dressing for imaginary or real events,” Anderson explained in a Zoom call. “It’s about losing yourself in a crowd.”
In addition to the video, with voiceover musings from Anderson, Loewe published two sumptuous hardcover books: one featuring the hoodlum paintings and grimy, violence-tinged photos of German artist Florian Krewer; the other photos by David Sims of street-cast characters hanging around a basketball court, or playing with pink bubble wrap in a studio. Also included in the designer’s latest “collection in a box” were art posters, luminescent bedroom ceiling stars and a snap bracelet. Despite that avalanche of content, some of it disquieting, and Anderson’s deep thoughts about our nearly post-COVID-19 world, what came across in the collection was spontaneity and the rush of fashion experimentation.
Like a teenage Anderson prepping for a big night out, one can imagine a daring Loewe customer tickled to try out a leather parka with portholes at the knee; a tiered top of knotted and draped satin, or a ribbed cotton tank and matching shorts in a beach-y print. One of the most striking — and bonkers — garments in the collection is a lean Crombie coat with a convex shield of hammered metal sewn into the back. Anderson loves that it “distorts the silhouette” while at the same time reminding him of the funhouse mirrors at a local carnival. Boys, they wanna have fun, too. — Miles Socha
“It’s about the person, rather than the uniform,” said Luke Meier, discussing the men’s spring 2022 collection he codesigned with his wife Lucie. It was presented as part of Paris Men’s Fashion Week with a video filmed at a shabby, dated Milanese hotel.
Luke Meier, who is Canadian, looked back at his years in New York City when he was designing for Supreme. “When I moved there, I discovered that guys had the best kind of style; they were mixing and matching things, experimenting with garments in their wardrobe, in a way [that] felt sophisticated and effortless,” he explained during a meeting at the Jil Sander showroom in Milan. The collection felt more relaxed and in sync with the current times than ever. The designers experimented with colours, shapes and patterns in a way that felt chic, but with humour and an effortless cool. Sartorial influences merged with utilitarian and streetwear influences, while more eccentric touches included silk tops with a fur-like look and jewellery details.
The lineup included suits in pastel tones cut in precise, yet relaxed silhouettes; a cheetah-printed furry vest was layered under a hooded lightweight coat; ribbed cardigans with leather-covered buttons were paired with polo shirts, while colour-blocked vests with a tactile feel came off as arty. Vintage graphics appearing on the windows of local delis in New York were introduced in the collection through the patches peppering baggy pants, the artisanal intarsia and embroideries of knitted pieces, as well as via allover prints on flight suits. With this spring effort, Lucie and Luke Meier unveiled a new side of their multifaceted creativity, one light-heartened and young. — Alessandra Turra
Don’t read too much into the “outdoor exploration” theme Paul Smith assigned to his sprightly spring men’s wear collection. “It’s not about hunting, shooting and fishing. It’s more about, ‘At last we’re out!’” he said, expressing that universal yearning for fresh air and open spaces after extended periods of sheltering in place. Tourists of yore — including the era of leisure suits — came to mind viewing the shirt jackets, blousons and safari styles matched to Bermudas or pleated pants, and accessorized with sun hats and cross-body bags.
In fact, Smith was just showing that a suit can now be composed of many different elements. He coined the term “new working wardrobe” for tailored items done in a range of fine Italian fabrics, colour unifying the top and bottom pieces. And my, what colours! Smith has a vacation home in Lucca, Italy, and he borrowed the shades of Tuscan terracotta, the Mediterranean sky and those dramatic summer sunsets, giving his lineup a summery spirit. Bold sunflower prints looked great on camp shirts.
When Smith started out in men’s wear, stripes for men came in navy and white, burgundy and white and not much else. He’s pioneered multicoloured stripes and they looked terrific here as a snug scuba top or a slouchy sweater with the ease of a sweatshirt. The designer also employed stripes from vintage tents for a collaboration on nylon bags with Japanese luggage-maker Porter. Smith’s creative video had models whisking across an indoor runway set consisting of an undulating ceiling and a speckled floor resembling a vintage Formica kitchen table. But do take these smart and cheerful clothes out for a stroll. — Miles Socha
It’s been a tough year for globetrotters like Charaf Tajer. The Casablanca designer dedicated his spring collection to a friend in Japan, a country he’s visited 26 times by his count. “Every time I go, it’s more and more impressive to me. Japan for me is almost like school; I learn so much,” he raved. “The way they execute things, the way they are passionate about everything. So I wanted to pay homage to this place that I miss and I love so much.” He titled the coed collection “Masao San” after his old pal, a waiter with a unique sense of style. “He’s really a phenomenal person,” Tajer explained. “He inspired me on so many levels.” The film alternated between the graphic aesthetic of ‘90s Japanese consumer electronics ads, and elements of ‘80s Memphis design set against a pastel backdrop. “I’m having a baby in September and I think that inspired me indirectly. We were designing and we noticed that everything came out in a baby palette,” Tajer said. The combination of the brand’s signature colour gradients with Memphisstyle wavy lines made for a surefire dopamine boost.
There’s something naively enthusiastic about Tajer’s embrace of different cultures that’s reflected in his trademark souvenir jackets, which this season were embroidered with shell motifs or a rendering of Mount Fuji. From there, he bounced off in several directions.
The designer offered suit jackets with squiggly lapels, and a fresh take on the Casablanca monogram in a zig-zag pattern — a teaser for his upcoming collaboration with table tennis gear-maker Butterfly. To celebrate the reveal, he hosted a cocktail at the Ritz hotel, where a pingpong table was set up near a grand piano in a reception room.
In the garden, Alton Mason, modelling a short-sleeved zippered jacket and white pants, mingled with guests including Ella Emhoff and her boyfriend Sam Hine, and “Emily in Paris” stars Ashley Park and Samuel Arnold. Tajer had initially planned to stage a physical runway show, but said too many guests were still unable to travel to France. “I prefer to come back when it’s time to do the shows in the right way,” he said. No doubt, his colourful vision will be even more of a tonic in 3D. — Joelle Diderich
Riccardo Tisci is feeling the heat — of summer, dancing in the desert and outdoor raves. His collection, filled with spare shapes, sleeveless silhouettes and lots of graphic patterns, was a tribute to the outdoors, post-lockdown freedom and a new generation of customers that wants to wear Burberry in the heat — as well as in the cold and rain.
Tisci said he’s been looking at who’s buying from the brand, and said the new, younger customer is spending on sporty, featherlight hoodie jackets, sneakers, jersey pieces and swimwear. “They want summer from Burberry,” he said in an interview. “So it’s a playful wardrobe — deconstructed classics for summer.”
He lopped the sleeves off trenches, tops and hoodies; did away with collars and lightened up tailored pieces to great effect. Female models wore itsy bitsy bathing suits — and they were certainly well-dressed for the weather on set. The show was shot against a background reminiscent of “Mad Max” films at Royal Victoria Dock in East London. There were mountains, acres of sand and a little zone off to the side where Burberry-clad ravers moved to an electronic soundtrack from the English music project Shpongle.
Boxy tops — a personal favourite of Tisci’s — were made for moving, dancing and keeping cool. They were sleeveless, too, and some had geometric patterns at the front. There was lots of leather — harness tops and sleeveless bomber jackets with rib-knit trims and studded straps — although they might begin to feel a little sweaty in the desert sun. In addition to the chic, stringy bathing suits, Tisci’s women wore slip dresses and a sequin-covered trench that glittered oasis-like against the sand.
It is clear that three national lockdowns, and ongoing social and travel restrictions in the U.K., have been getting under Tisci’s skin. “To be in a big open space! To be able to scream! I think a lot of people — and especially teenagers and people in their 20s — are all feeling the same way,” he said. It’s no wonder he called the show “Universal Passport.” The Brits — no matter how old or young — are desperate to get the heck out, socialize, travel abroad — and shout. — Samantha Conti
Diversity has always been at the root of the GmbH label, with founders Benjamin Huseby and Serhat Isik mining their multicultural backgrounds with strongly autobiographical collections. This season, the duo turned the tables with a lineup that riffed on bourgeois tropes and WASP culture. “We wanted to shift the conversation. Instead of always focusing on our own Blackness or brown-ness — being the ‘other’ — we wanted to talk about whiteness,” Huseby explained. “We definitely wanted to create a conversation that might make some people uncomfortable.” The collection, titled “White Noise,” is a wry comment on the ruling class, viewing yuppie staples like jodhpurs, polo shirts and riding boots through a queer lens. Varsity vests were ruched to expose the midriff, while Western shirts came tied at the waist to show off silver belly chains. A striped dress shirt, meanwhile, was inset with panels of corset lacing. The designers reprised the shawl constructions they introduced last season, but gave them a lighter spin in fabrics like denim, or baby pink and blue fake fur, paired with shredded jeans. They were inspired by scenes in the documentary “Paris Is Burning,” showing Black and Latino ballroom dancers competing in bougie Town and Country outfits, as well as the way music stars in the ‘90s were appropriating and subverting white culture.
“Fashion is a kind of drag, so no matter what you wear, you’re dressing up for a role, even if you’re subconscious about it,” Huseby said. In contrast with most brands’ reluctance to comment on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, GmbH has collaborated with Palestinian fashion label Trashy Clothing on a halter top that reads: “Free Palestine.” Proceeds will benefit charities including Al Qaws, the oldest official Palestinian LGBTQ organization. Despite the risk of backlash, Isik, a German of Turkish descent, believes fashion needs to address political issues.
“Ten years ago, pre-identity age, my graduate collection was about Islamophobia. The collection was called I Don’t Have Any Weapons, and I was barely allowed to defend my thesis at the university. And now we’re here, and we are in the positions that we are,” he said. “We have to continue being brave and talking about these things.” Huseby and Isik were recently named creative directors of Italian brand Trussardi, which touted their “socially engaged perspective.” This collection proved they won’t be toning it down to court mainstream acceptance. — Joelle Diderich
Celebrating the return of Parisians to the streets of their beloved capital, Pierre Mahéo took to the runway with a coed lineup that channelled the city’s nonchalant elegance and its current festive mood. The venue was a spacious historic building in the heart of the Marais district, hollowed out for renovations, with space to mingle — and reunite. “I wanted to get back to a fashion show without any further delay,” the designer wrote in a note to guests. He went on to explain how the prolonged period grounded at home had allowed for deep exploration of his Parisian roots. This yielded a lineup of suits and trouser-jacket combinations for spring, with plenty of options for anyone interested in riding the shorts-for-the-office trend. Plying monochromic looks, Mahéo offered them in navy, olive green, greys, ivory and an eye-catching lavender. He also wove in an extra soft, recycled denim, zip-up shirts and hoodies that edged over to the realm of outerwear, as well as leather bomber jackets, some tie-dye and a few dresses — one printed with paisleys. Mahéo has built his label on a contemporary approach to tailoring, working in extra ease without compromising the refinement intended by such silhouettes. Mastering the slouchy trouser, he worked in straighter cuts from the knee down this season, and included baggy, skater-style pants in a lightweight wool for summer. “Our pants business has been on fire for the past year and a half,” he said after the show, still breathless from the emotion of the first runway presentation in 16 months. He mentioned he’s off to New York shortly. The label plans to open a store in the city, kicking off an expansion drive backed by new investors. It might be just in time for the big migration back to work. For anyone feeling apprehensive about the return to office life, Mahéo’s got some good ideas about what our uniform should be. Dress like a Parisian. — Mimosa Spencer
Mark Weston, who took a few cues from Coco Chanel, swapped nylon for silk faille and worked a playful colour palette inspired by the Polaroids of artist Ellen Carey, described this collection as a marriage of “extravagance — and practicality.” He was spot on, but he forgot to add one word: fun. This latest outing had all the whimsy and joy that Weston has quietly been stitching into his collections for the brand, which until just a few years ago was best known for its traditional tailored suits, tuxedos and luxe leather accessories, made for boardrooms, country clubs and corner offices.
Not any more: Weston may have a reverence for Dunhill’s past as a posh tailor, but he’s also been eager to dress a new clientele for lives that have nothing to do with mahogany desks and black tie fundraisers. His looser shapes, zingy colour palette (see the striped Dr. Who scarf from the fall 2021 collection) and nonchalant chic have been attracting customers from all sorts of orbits, including Kanye West, while in China, female celebrities like Chris Lee, Ni Ni and Song Zu’er have been wearing the men’s styles. Weston seemed to be having even more fun with the latest collection, making baseball caps — in pink, no less — out of silk faille fabric; roomy cardigans with shiny buttons that would have made Coco smile, or even fattening up seersucker stripes for a jacket that looked as if it were made from thick crinkly ribbons. There was a practical, utility side, too, in the form of modular parkas with zips and hi-viz pops of colour; the (now signature) split hem trousers done in nylon; electric bright cummerbunds (a nod to Dunhill’s tuxedo credentials) that doubled as crossbody bags, and — of course — a lineup of lovely tailored suits. Ellen Carey’s colorful psychedelic Polariod smears — made by pulling apart the photo papers — provided inspiration for prints on raw-edged silk tops, and for an upbeat palette of pastels and jewel tones designed for a good time, although not in the board room. — Samantha Conti