A mixed blog of fashion goodies
Have an idea for the Hint Blog? Email us.
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hint Video: Paris Men's Week

Ten minutes backstage with Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Tim Hamilton, Damir Doma and Romain Kremer...



video production by Crystal Snow Films

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, June 29, 2009

Paris Men's Week: Raf Simons

Ah, Raf, if only your show had begun really late. Instead I found myself on the other side of a firmly closed door just after it began, with the haunting piano from Eyes Wide Shut (Dominic Harlan's Musica Ricercata N°2) wafting over the garden wall. Why was I late? Just before, John Galliano had held Napoleonic court at the derelect Piscine Molitor in a sleepy neighborhood on the other side of town and there were no taxis afterward. That meant a harrowing, sweaty, doomed metro trip and, between shows the next day, a trek to Simons' showroom deep in the heart of the 9th arrondissement to finally ogle his wares.

First of all, suck it in because you will need a waistline to wear Simons' new suits, which come with their own wide, webbed belts, or feature incorporated leather belts (some with snakehead buckles) that twist around the torso like, well, a snake. Some jackets have a layer of satin lining fabric over the sleeves, which you can roll like, well, a snake. After browsing through the racks in the showroom, it became apparent that Simons has been struck with a slithery reptilian obsession.

The tailoring has body, thanks to high-tech constructions like a rough-edged overcoat—look ma, no hems!—in thin cotton fused with polyurethane. Imagine a filmy, slightly rubbery handkerchief. The raw-edged sweatshirts in Japanese jersey (currently Simons' favorite material, I'm told) are bonded, which stiffens them to give the wearer a chest he may or may not actually possess. The best one is in dusty pink like a blush.

The style, at times, is downright Cavalliesque, with white canvas jeans in a coiling snake print. Only, the canvas is workwear thick with industrial zipper pockets and the cut is square—so it's really Belgian, not Neapolitan. Simons appears to be toying with menswear's smarmy side. His stint in Milan as creative director for Jil Sander, and the Italian production for his own brand, has opened the door onto a world that makes the sincerely boyish clothes of his early days seem like a lifetime ago.

—Rebecca Voight





Labels: , , ,

Paris Men's Week: Dior Homme

Kris Van Assche is a realist. And the spring '10 collection he produced for Dior Homme is full of soft, flowing, even tempered modern classics for men who don't/can't/will never take it over-the-top. Transparency was the big statement, with the see-through appearing as layers, as in jackets over open shirts over tone-on-tone silk T-shirts—all in cool hues like dove grey and flesh tones. Sleeveless was the other statement. When sleeves do appear, they're in silk top shirts with rolled-up sleeves over a jacket to accentuate softness. The effect is ethereal and quite a contrast to the boldnes, or should I say brashness, elsewhere. I think this might be the guy who gets the girl after all his friends have overplayed it. Thanks to cool-hand Kris.

—Rebecca Voight



Labels: , , ,

Paris Men's Week: Romain Kremer

Ever since Romain Kremer's fantastical world was first shown on a catwalk, he’s been watched with great anticipation—even by those who don't live in a computer game. His graphic sense of shape has done much to prove that Paris menswear can think beyond romantic reworkings of bourgeoisie classics. His spring '10 collection saw Kremer still focused on underpants. While this fear of trousers is interesting, and certainly spangly knit briefs are fun, it would be great to get a clearer look at his ideas for alternatives. Meanwhile, an almost-tuxedo jacket with a navel-to-neck circular opening that managed to look chic and futuristic was one of those how-did-nobody-ever-think-of-that-before moments.

—Daryoush Haj-Najafi



Labels: , ,

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Paris Men's Week: Lanvin

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Was it only last January that Lucas Ossendrijver and Alber Elbaz presented the fall 2009 collection for Lanvin in an old school courtyard: a marvel of flowing, pleated pants, billowy silk shirts, romantic neck scarves and cinched waist coats? That collection was a first response to the financial crisis and it was deemed appropriately somber. It was also very romantic.

This time Lanvin showed in the rococo gilt Salle Wagram, looking decidedly dance-hall louche, lit in lurid red with techno blasting at 11:00 am. Gone was any trace of somber romance as models emerged like a gang of toughs in skinny, sleeveless jackets and stovepipe pants with narrow, turned-up cuffs, hair in almost punk spikes topped with visor scarves in tie silk. These new Lanvin guys meant business and one suspects it was of the shakedown variety. There were knee pants with knee coats, confirming menswear's move to a more boyish silhouette, and still more louche details like black shirts with a sliver of white handkerchief peeking out from the breast pocket. Patterned T-shirts were studded with sequins and leather blousons showed up with matching leather shorts. The new coat was aggressively cinched and worn bloused for an hourglass shape, and there was a wider trouser which was very high waisted, marked with a narrow belt and offset with ample hips in a sort of Fred Astaire dance shape. The pants were paired with 50's patterned shirts with short sleeves rolled as high as they will go.

The end result looked like a lean, mean fighting machine, ready to seduce a younger, more body-conscious customer for Lanvin and not afraid of being pretty ferocious in the process.

—Rebecca Voight



Labels: , , , ,

Paris Men's Week: Dunhill

One of the biggest misjudgments I've ever made was dismissing Stefano Pilati’s talents. Though I could see his early YSL collections were meant to remind us of the greatness of the brand, I was impatient for progress—which he's delivered in spades in recent seasons. Kim Jones’ position at Dunhill is similar. Transforming one of the world’s oldest and biggest global luxury brands—they make pens out of meteorites and black diamonds!—into a fashion label for today was always going to be a lengthy, difficult project. That Jones has so quickly created a believable base to build on is commendable.

New Order’s The Perfect Kiss, a love song to fearlessness in that optimistic 80's synth way, set the tone as boys stepped onto a revolving carousel heavy with polished aluminum luggage before traipsing down the runway. The shows predominantly blue-gray palette was modern and light, and materials were wow, but never crossed an un-English line into fey snakeskin vulgarity. It was a brilliant interpretation of traditional tailoring, military and safari blazers. Accessories included blue straw trilbies, hand-carved flint sunglasses and a holdall in carbon fiber, a material first used commercially in Rolls Royce aero engines. How absolutely right for modern Dunhill is that?

—Daryoush Haj-Najafi



Labels: , , ,

Paris Men's Week: Thomas Engel Hart

Thomas Engel Hart has decided he "just isn’t going to make fashion that's about proving how rich you are." Engel Hart clearly wishes he could sell this approach to a skeptical fashion media, but their myopia only seems to make him more determined. And this season that meant acting on his lifelong love of punk. If London’s club kids, with their biker jackets and torn denim, are any measure, this looks set to be a smart move.

Engel Hart’s presentation consisted of a short film by portrait photographer Eric Nehr, screened in a tiny Paris gallery as the models, press and cold beer mixed in the alleyway outside. While Engel Hart’s pointy blazers and shirts looked more Johnny Lydon than Rotten, he managed to combine the energy of punk with his tailoring skills, producing barely-there knits and slim white jeans dotted with eyeholes—not for the squeamish.

—Daryoush Haj-Najafi

Labels: , ,

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Paris Men's Week: John Galliano

Deep in the heart of Paris' 16th arrondissement is the Piscine Molitor, a graffiti-covered carcass of an indoor pool, known for its deco décor and as the site where, in 1945, the bikini first appeared. Its resonance must have appealed to John Galliano, who staged another one of his epic men's shows here.

Galliano designs for men like a wide-eyed boy steeped in tales of daring heroism. There were two characters on his mind this season: Lawrence of Arabia, as portrayed by Peter O'Toole in the 1962 classic, and Napoleon Bonaparte in Abel Gance's haunting 1927 silent film. Galliano began with Lawrence, who went native in a mix of early 20th-century military tailoring and harem-like sarouel pants—worn out, distressed, exotic. And he ended up with a goth Bonaparte as the Emperor of France, a menacing regal figure in brocade evening shirts with jet black embroidery and great coats with still more shirts wrapped around them like sashes. Somewhere in between he slipped in a Sicilian escapade inspired by the pre-WWI homoerotic portraits of Wilhelm von Gloeden, whose juvenile models with wreaths in their hair evoked Grecian antiquity. Galliano's Sicilians, however, were in floral speedos and blousy scarf-print blousons—mama mia!

—Rebecca Voight



Labels: , ,

Paris Men's Week: Tim Hamilton

Tim Hamilton is an American wunderkind. I was first alerted to this by the buzz preceding his first Paris men's show. Hamilton is from Iowa, but he's also slightly exotic (his mom is Lebanese and his dad is English-American). He's earned his design stripes with stints at J.Crew and Ralph Lauren. And, besides menswear, launched in 2007, he also has a women's collection that he debuted in Paris for fall 2009. That's pretty spectacular.

So what can be said about Hamilton's first menswear show in Paris? He touched all the current bases: a lab-coat trench, a tailored jumpsuit, a filmy nylon parka, long johns, cropped boy pants—in short, all the musts. And yet I found the proportions slightly pinched. There were also so many trends, but not enough Hamilton. Tim, Tim, come out wherever you are! This was a first which begs the question: what's next?

—Rebecca Voight



Labels: , ,

Paris Men's Week: Hermès

It smelled liked horses, thoroughbreds of course, at the old refectory of the Cordelier convent, which had been transformed for the Hermès show with a pressed-earth floor. A dedicated team of men with these big green roller devices was on hand to constantly repress the floor until the models arrived.

Imagine your entire spring '10 wardrobe cast in tone-on-tone shades of leafy greens and dusty browns, like the color of shade under a big tree on a scorching day. Véronique Nichanian worked such a palette of natural hues, from verdigris and taupe verging on olive drab to apple and various bronzed browns. This gave the clothes an aged patina, as though they'd been plucked from an old photograph—which isn't to say there was anything retro here.

A blazer in solid taupe seersucker just looked like an interestingly wrinkled jacket rather than that old prep classic in blue and white pinstripes. All the pants had rolled cuffs. Calfskin shirt jackets and super-soft trench coats were practically cut with a scalpel. And the linen suit looked perfectly blasé. Sleeveless cardigans paired with sleeveless silk T-shirts over roomy trousers, or boxy Bermudas, were in such perfect French taste that one was tempted to ask, What ever happened to vulgarity? The answer is: Hermès just doesn't ever do that. Standouts were a chunky sailor-knot sweater in tart green and a windbreaker in paper-thin calfskin, as soft as a glove.

—Rebecca Voight



Labels: , , ,

Paris Men's Week: Bernhard Willhelm

Conceptualism gets a rough ride, and deservedly so, but this show-installation hybrid was a real piece of theater. As people—including Willhelm's former tutor, Walter Van Beirendonck—were seated, no one seemed to know if the show had begun or not. Why? Because the models were being dressed in full view, amid the baroque magnificence of Paris' old Bourse. When the show finally began in earnest it became clear we were looking at a kind of mad artist's studio and the models were his works of art, slowly transforming into something more and more extreme. Some grew a giant Brothers Grimm-like dreadlock, others had lampshades or buckets on their heads, and all were given crazy prints and folksy patterns.

But strip away the heavy, clowny accessorizing and the main pieces were clean and sharp enough to work in the real world. Silhouettes and cuts were slim variations on tracksuits and pajamas. Willhelm is still meditating on ways to bare flesh, with increasing success. He himself looks hot, not silly, in his little shorts.

The show ended as it began, with the impression of chaos. Art and weirdness that resist the authority of menswear, with its rules about luxe and snobbery, are Willhelm's humanistic approach. The free-thinker is back.

—Daryoush Haj-Najafi



Labels: , , ,

Friday, June 26, 2009

Paris Men's Week: Rick Owens

A particularly hard remix of Human Resource's Dominator, which sounds like a buzz accompanied by heart-vibrating break beats, played throughout Rick Owens' second men's show. The lyrics—"I'm bigger and bolder and rougher and tougher in other words, sucker, there is no other"—perfectly summarized the strong masculine pomp that defined the show. Even many of those in the audience were styled like members of Nitzer Ebb, Front 242 and DAF. Paris has been crying out for a serious, credible challenger to Raf Simons' hold on wearable cutting-edge. Rick Owens looks to be a contender.

The long-haired, high-heeled American hasn't sought to be another feminizing force in menswear. Instead he mines that adolescent love of tribal allegiances and rebellion. Think youth cults, i.e. skins, industrial punks and anarchists. Sure, there's an age limit to leather hoodies, just-below-the-knee denim shorts and sneakers that appear almost triangular in profile, but the sort of warrior men attracted to Owens' designs don't want to dress as feeble updates on their fathers. That’s not success, it's surrender.

—Daryoush Haj-Najafi



Labels: , , ,

Paris Men's Week: Walter Van Beirendonck

Some of Walter's shows have resonated in the fashion industry; others have signaled Walter's changing style. Spring '10 was one of the latter. Day-glo cyberwear was nowhere to be found, though pastel-acid greens and blancmange were still on view. Walter also used plus-sized bear models exclusively. Even if half that bulk was muscle, the show seemed to challenge the fashion media to separate good design from good packaging.

The collection concentrated less on Walter's imagination and more on the sort of clothes he, or the heavyset objects of his lust, might wish to wear. Baggy, loose lines dominated, with galabiya-style shirts and multi-pocketed jumpsuits very much in abundance. A blazer in a blue croc print proved Walter isn't short of ideas.

As if to push home the practical appeal of the collection, Walter modeled the last look himself. Anyone who’s had the misfortune of seeing certain fashion editors squeezing themselves into menswear’s edgier designers will be thankful for Walter's example. All this gave time for half of Walter's bears to gather on a stage previously hidden by a curtain and reemerge in Walter’s new line of underwear—filled out rather splendidly.

—Daryoush Haj-Najafi



Labels: , ,

Paris Men's Week: Louis Vuitton

Maybe it's because Marc Jacobs has been baring his tanned legs in skorts lately that Louis Vuitton studio director Paul Helbers has picked up on menswear's current bike vibe in such a big way that he dedicated the entire spring collection to New York messengers—or, as they refer to them in the show notes, "Gentlemen Papillons" (butterfly men). Nigerian singer Keziah Jones, who I discovered I'm in love with after the Yves Saint Laurent show, was back, sitting right across the runway from me and looking sublime in a T-shirt, trilby and skinny suit with contrast edging, no doubt from LV because similar models showed up for the show's finale.

This was a great collection, an about face from all that triple-ply luxury LV has specialized in up until now. It's not that these clothes are any less elegant, but they're younger, less concerned with luxe and more interested in young men in their physical prime. The standouts: taxi-cab yellow racing jackets in washed linen, rolled-cuff shorts, a Taiga leather bum bag, an ottoman nylon trench coat, anything in tricky tech fabrics, a braided straw hat with a reflective band and those keychain necklaces worn with everything—even suits.

—Rebecca Voight



Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Paris Men's Week: Adam Kimmel

Adam Kimmel and his fiancée, the actress Leelee Sobieski, are heading down to the Camargue in southeastern France, where French cowboys herd bulls in the salt marshes and where Leelee's father, the painter John Sobieski lives. This couldn't be more timely as Kimmel has just finished one of his big dreams, a cowboy collection inspired by Roy Rogers and the Marlboro Man. Kimmel worked with Jim Krantz, the Marlboro campaign's original photographer, on the look book, featuring real-live modern cowboys, and video artist Meredith Danluck shot the making-of on the original Marlboro ranch with bull-riding champion Rocky McDonald.

What's particularly nice about Kimmel's westernwear is that it's actually wearable compared to the real thing, which is usually a bit heavy on the embroidery, or heading towards polyester. At Yvon Lambert's Paris gallery, where Kimmel held an informal collection fete, Charlotte Rampling, actor Gaspard Ulliel and the transatlantic art crowd picked out their favorite pieces while Stefano Pilati recalled his first visit to Texas at the age of eighteen. "I didn't know much about cowboy clothes when I was growing up. I just wore jeans," he said, "but later on I discovered it all in Texas—the boots, the shirts, everything—and brought it all home with me."

—Rebecca Voight


photo Karl Hab

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Paris Men's Week: Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier can't stop putting boys in girls' clothes. Following skirts, his new feminine preoccupations are bustiers and halter tops, which he pairs with broad-shouldered suits for men who want to show off their pecs and don't mind if they have to dress like a girl to do it. His sailor boys look kind of girlish, too, in pants so wide they could almost be skirts and school uniform-style midi blouses. The collection's masculine side comes through in 60s futuristic-style tailoring—à la Pierre Cardin or André Courrèges—in sparkling white, brights and candy stripes.

—Rebecca Voight



Labels: , , , ,

Paris Men's Week: Dries Van Noten

Even Dries Van Noten, who has never been the flashy type, has toned it down this season. For spring, he's taken a megadose of prints and put them everywhere, from pocket scarves to thongs. The print parade works because they're quiet, often bleached out prints in muted colors, i.e. dark plaids for raincoats and faded ikats in super-thin cottons for his new three-pleat trouser. Like Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent, Van Noten is perfecting a sharp-shouldered, double-breasted jacket that's cut very close to the body, giving the wearer a delicate, gangly look, like a young man who is growing too fast.

—Rebecca Voight

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 26, 2009

Paris Men's Week: Walter Van Beirendonck

By Daryoush Haj-Najafi...

In many ways, Belgian cyber-bear Walter Van Beirendonck is a fashion prophet. His work was initially ignored by the mainstream press, then largely forgotten, but now he's fated as a demigod by anyone with aesthetic aspirations. He's also a teacher, another prophet-like quality. Then there's his bearded daddy look.

The earlier part of Van Beirendonck's fall 09 show, held at Boulevard Voltaire's Cafe Ba-Ta-Clan, consisted of mid-90s, almost Prada-like suits in brown tonics that proved he can cut. Then came metallic floral prints on trousers and extensive use of thick piping to construct hats, plus that graphic penis-equipped torso that's practically Van Beirendonck's logo. Among other retro-futurist moments were mega knitwear that looked crazy academic and a lot of burnt orange.

Most successful were the hybrid moments, like the mohair-y sparkle knits in chloroform green that looked seriously new, along with his trademark knitted hoodies and ponchos, as well as printed tees—all featuring that iconic torso with a penis or blown-up face design. Tracksuit bottoms with radar-like targets emblazoned across the bum made clear that Van Beirendonck retains his mastery of making cheek chic.


Walter Van Beirendonck

Labels: , ,

Paris Men's Week: Maison Martin Margiela

By Rebecca Voight...

It has to be said: Martin Margiela is so full of great ideas, it's almost painful to watch. The first pain was just getting all the way to the show venue, La Maison de Métallos. The Paris cultural center is located way, way out in Paris's bohemian 11th arrondissement, which, despite the hike, is turning into a primo spot for groundbreaking fashion shows—yesterday it hosted Romain Kremer and Julius. Equipped with flashlights, Margiela's white labcoats led the audience, convened in small groups, into the theater, and there we stood as MMMs men’s collection appeared in a series of police line-ups in a narrow, glass-enclosed space. As usual, Margiela presents real clothes for men, not fashion statements.

But what seems banal at a glance is finely styled, down to the "wine stain" print shirts and “after-party” coats. As each unusual suspect came forward, one of those twangy, insincere American telemarketing voices boomed out what they were wearing. Within minutes I was laughing out loud, and it didn’t take long for the rest of the audience to lose it as well. Some of us laughed so hard we cried. Like I said, Margiela is painfully good. This season's Incognito aviator glasses, limited-edition python shoes, suede Postcard Holder vest and jeans with a subtle “rained on” look, via print and resin applications, are sterling examples of late '70s trashy dressing, as interpreted by a tongue-in-cheek maestro.




Maison Martin Margiela

Labels: , ,

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Paris Men's Week: Gareth Pugh

By Daryoush Haj-Najafi...

Before reading any further, you need to know this about Gareth Pugh: he's not a fucking goth, at least not in the traditional slash-your-wrists sense. His weirdness lies in his search for the emotively powerful, stuff that projects strength. Take, for instance, triangles. "They're a simple, powerful shape. They fit so many of my references," he said backstage at his debut men's collection. The sharp-looking yet soft-to-the-touch metallic needles—like a furry Eraserhead—was a logical step from the triangular, he said, adding, "We went further than sci-fi for something deadly new that doesn't look like it came off a spaceship."

The show was coat heaven, as in oh-my-god-I-need-to-be-rich-right-now coats. There were quilted and knitted leather coats, lizard-skin coats, coats with armor-like shoulders and so on. Pugh only deviated from black to do chrome and gunmetal, reworking leather, metal and wool to ever greater effect. Oh, and that hair wasn't gelled down—it was tar.

Pugh has gotten so good that rumors he's about to be awarded his own Parisian house are being taken seriously by those not normally victim to such things. In less than four years he's gone from catwalk debut to showing both women's and men's Paris collections. Wow! Or rather, !WOWOW!, the name of the art collective from which he sprang.

But don't think Pugh's designs are flights of unwearable fancy either. Pugh lives the life, dressing as extremely as he creates, not just for the benefit of photographers, but also on a regular basis. His studio and flat are in an area of London known for its crack dealers, scary boozers, stolen phone un-lockers and general air of malign intent. In short, Pugh has to be pretty fierce to dress the way he does. I mean, how many times can certain men's designers say they love Bowie without one wondering just what Ziggy Stardust should look like in 2009?




Gareth Pugh

Labels: , ,

Paris Men's Week: Dunhill

By Daryoush Haj-Najafi...

Lily Allen was so excited to see Kim Jones' first collection for Dunhill, she said, that she came on a private jet. And why not? Dunhill has more than a 160 shops and global name recognition, while streetwise Jones knows just how to give it his own understated twist.

Jones has said on many occasions that he feels it's his duty to present Dunhill's century-old excellence in luxury travel to the world. So yes, the show was a bit conservative, but ever-disciplined Jones did an amazing, almost subliminal reworking of the brand in expensive materials, like a duffel coat with mammoth-tooth buttons, Mongolian cashmere and rabbit fedoras—all hinting at Dunhill's older, wilder aesthetic. There were also numerous variations on the white shirt; we dug the box-pleating and poplins, as well as collarless blazers and paper-thin suiting.

Ingeniously, Jones managed to put tons of the accessories on the catwalk without sending out an army of handbags carrying male models: silver watches on key chains and tie pins, leather document cases, silver tie bars and cufflinks—even a woodgrain bag. The accessory design trend to watch? The knitted tie—Jones didn't show anything but.

Afterward, I headed to Gareth's show in the back of some rich German kid's leather-lined Range Rover. He told me he was a film student in Paris, obviously with money to burn. He offered me a cigarette—a Dunhill cigarette, naturally.


Dunhill by Kim Jones

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fromance

Jean Paul Gaultier backstage at his fall '09 men's collection, apparently channeling Gene Wilder...

Labels: ,

Paris Men's Week: Adam Kimmel

By Rebecca Voight...

Gerard Malanga's black-and-whites of artists, poets, musicians and general hangers-on in the late '60s Warhol orbit—Gregory Corso, Billy Name, a very young David Byrne, Patti Smith posing on the fire escape with her boyfriend Robert Mapplethorpe and Ed Hood—wouldn't be out of place in one of American designer Adam Kimmel's seasonal look books. Kimmel has been asking his downtown friends to pose since he launched his collection with shammy jumpsuits in 2002. They inspire his design and he's their label of choice.

While Kimmel isn't the show-off type, his presentation fête last Thursday night at Galerie Thadeaus Ropac in Paris, billed as a "remake" of Malanga's "screen tests" from The Factory days, drew a throng of Paris and New York artists, models, actors and fashion folk. Malanga took Kimmel's look book pictures for fall 09: Glenn O'Brien, Aaron Young, Slater Bradley, Dan Colen and the voluptuous Leelee Sobieski couldn't be more timely in American-flag long johns, boxy corduroy jackets and plenty of denim and plaid flannel.

Waris Ahluwalia, in town to present his latest bird-inspired jewelry collection during couture next week, was so busy with Leelee Sobieski and Lou Doillon that he nearly forgot he had a dinner date with Kanyé West. Waris is doing press in Europe and recently found himself interviewed for the evening news in Sweden, which reminded him that it was the first country he wanted to visit as an exchange student when he was sixteen. "My parents vetoed that right away though," he admits. "They knew why I wanted to go to Sweden and it wasn't for the culture."


Adam Kimmel with the NY Times' Cathy Horyn and i-D's Terry Jones


Adam Kimmel with Paris Vogue's Carine Roitfeld and Olivier Lalanne

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Paris Men's Week: Day 1

By Rebecca Voight...

Why worry about your shrinking bank account when the really big problem is what to wear to the financial crisis? On the first day of the Paris men's shows for fall, there were enough men in plaid flannel shirts and work boots to fill all the lumber yards in Canada. Desperately seeking sartorial propriety, the boys (and girls) of menswear are determined to face hard times with New Deal grit—not unlike Dorothea Lange’s black-and-whites of migrant workers fleeing the Dust Bowl.

But while radical change is in the air, not all designers are working workwear. At Hugo by Hugo Boss, Bruno Pieters appears to have been beating the financial blues by listening to a whole lot of Kraftwerk, especially 1978's vocoder-ific “We Are the Robots." Allowing his taste for razor-sharp tailoring and dueling checks to go wild, Pieters also veered into Devo territory with Clockwork Orange overtones. The response was either love or hate; others just had to close their eyes.

Number (N)ine's Takahiro Miyashita opted to escape reality by time-traveling to the early 17th century, invoking D'Artagnan and the Three Musketeers in tattered brocade frock coats, britches and grandfather shirts. I’m not sure how, but several of Miyashita's musketeers even managed to look like Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone's “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”


Number (N)ine

"When the going gets tough, just stay in bed" is what Yohji Yamamoto appeared to be saying in one of his best men’s collections in recent memory. Striped pajama sets and bathrobe coats worn with ski bonnets, oversized cardigans and leggings crumpled at the ankle like droopy socks are ideal for the laid-back, laid-off life.


Yohji Yamamoto

If Henrik Vibskov didn't stay in bed, à la Yamamoto, he only ventured as far as the hamper. The Danish designer capped the day’s shows with his “Human Laundry Service” performance at the Espace Saint Martin, one of those mysterious spiritual guidance places where people attend self-improvement seminars. I checked out a couple of their meetings, but unfortunately they weren’t doing anything seriously spiritual like channeling or flapping around on the floor. They should have seen what was going on upstairs!

Apparently the show Vibskov presented was only half of what he wanted to do because the room was too small to hold his entire Human Laundry Service apparatus, which originally involved water, of course. But he did manage to squeeze in five giant black-and-white striped treadmills manned by models dressed like surreal Tyrolean Elves. Oversized plaid shirts, bright and baggy long johns, shawls, blanket coats and candy stripe suits are for the man who combats economic adversity with joie de vivre.

Labels: , , , , , ,