Over the years, Thom Browne has given modeling new meaning, stretching his boys' acting skills to their limit. The American designer's spring outing was no different. Guest were greeted in a serene Japanese garden, where expressionless models had been instructed to stand sentinel, hands clutching a bamboo staff like a samurai sword. They wore sumptuous kimonos, conical hats, elevated wood geta, round sunglasses, and black lipstick.
What they were guarding is unclear, but their wait came to an end when four men in all-gray geisha robes freed them, revealing impressive, painstakingly hand-pieced gray suits adorned with embroidered frescos of pastoral Japanese scenes — flora, fauna, fans, fishermen, Fuji, and so on. The craftsmanship was majestic, and the designer moved forward by drawing a looser silhouette. While the show was a bit one-note, it was a fitting end to the season, confirming a craze for Asia that started in London and percolated through Paris.
If Lanvin had a breakfast club, one would imagine that it would be like the house's Sunday morning show at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, where models swaggered about like John Bender — the rebellious one. From the hand of of men's designer Lucas Ossendrijver, along with artistic director Alber Elbaz, the fine threads hit the runway in relaxed anti-style. Outerwear was oversized, with pushed-up sleeves; pants were roomy and pleated; shirts were frayed; and bags and backpacks were big enough to carry assorted textbooks and paraphernalia. If you threw in Molly Ringwald, with her red coif and lip gloss, it would have been the chicest detention ever.
When you think of camouflage and argyle, do you think of Dior Homme? Now you can, as the preppy military look ran rampant at Kris Van Assche’s latest presentation. His models zigzagged through a carefully a manicured rose garden at the Tennis Club de Paris, dressed in equally meticulous digs. The Belgian creative director transformed the cargo pant into an evening-suit trouser, and the bomber into something you'd want to wear to dinner. From the first to last model, details were the stars of the catwalk, including an impeccable color palette, surprising suit linings, and, in keeping with the theme, a white-rose emblem that adorned the occasional sleeve and breast pocket.
A twist on aristocracy seemed to be the concept at Comme des Garçons Homme Plus, which took place in a dilapidated-yet-friendly building down the street from Paris’s famous Palais Garnier. The models were coiffed in bright yellow sculpted wigs as they strutted in Rei Kawakubo's signature deconstructed threads. From the beginning it was clear that her spring 2016 collection was going to be sewn with the same mash-up rebelliousness of past collections: vests were pulled apart at the waist, tartan plaids were mixed with chunky stripes, and tailcoats were paired with Bermuda shorts. And then the show ended — no finale, no pretense, no wave from the designer. Just plenty of applause.
After seasons of unabashed embellishment, Riccardo Tisci wisely cleansed our palate at Givenchy. There was indeed a new spareness, relatively speaking. A new modesty, even, to his offerings for spring 2016, and it made for his best collection in seasons.
The Italian designer sent out a compendium of his aesthetic touchstones. There was streamlined tailoring, often pinstriped. His signature men’s skirts were available in a knitted version, and worn with luxed-up versions of jelly shoes. The religious imagery he favors resurfaced with prints of Jesus Christ’s agonizing, thorn-crowned head on many pieces, including a terrific, clear plastic sweatshirt. The other print of the season was an alphabet soup of Givenchy on sportswear in the couleur du jour: blue. His love of Americana could be seen in stars-and-stripes patterns, cowboy stitching, and workwear (the overalls are sure to be a hit). Jewelry was reduced to giant key pendants. Even the embroideries were low-key and more graphic, like the rest of the collection.
Interspersed were women’s haute couture creations, sheer and fringed confections that were exquisitely made, obviously. They didn’t overshadow the menswear, which has become a metaphor for Tisci’s tenure at Givenchy. His success and cultural potency with men's has in many ways surpassed women’s.
What the show also made clear, as usual, is that Tisci is a casting maestro, promoting diversity, booking beefcakes, rounding up all the girls of the moment, and nabbing the indomitable Naomi Campbell, who looked as fierce as her scheming character in Empire.Read More
Dries Van Noten's invitation sported a real lipstick-kiss imprint, and the show opened to the strains of Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender. While it hasn't been difficult to catch Van Noten's love-bug of late, things are never that simple. So while Marilyn Monroe was the obvious inspiration this season, Van Noten challenged himself by imagining a fantastical scenario, a surreal encounter between the American screen goddess and Salvador Dalí.
An iconic black-and-white portrait of Monroe opened the show under a pink leopard printed coat, defiantly introducing our heroine. She reappeared throughout in all-over photo-prints, intarsia knits, and appliqué. Dalí was represented by red lobster beading and the use of the ordinary as extraordinary. Splashy prints — Hawaiians, florals, leopard, palms, paisleys, and checks — were pushed out and twisted, clashed and overlaid, and taken to a place where they came full circle, if off-kilter.
As ever, the soundtrack was a key element, with snippets from the actress's films and the voice of the artist, layered and mixed with Public Image Ltd's This Is Not a Love Song, the Sex Pistols’ Pretty Vacant, and The B-52s' Rock Lobster. Van Noten declared backstage that Dalí was a punk and his repetitive use of the Monroe prints became a subversive punk act, akin to Jamie Reid's Sex Pistols covers — which is surely how they will be seen by Van Noten's ever-increasing fan base. He closed with a burst of red and silver confetti to the sounds of Monroe’s I Wanna Be Loved By You, as if the answer was ever in doubt.
Maison Margiela is an interesting case study. Here is a cult fashion house whose elusive founder is retired, replaced by John Galliano, a designer with a glorious past and a maximalist aesthetic that seems at odds with the brand’s philosophy of deconstruction. To complicate matters, that philosophy is enjoying a revival at other labels, notably the much talked-about Vêtements.
Galliano made his return to ready-to-wear in March, and, as the spring collection shown today was conceived by a creative team, he has yet to make his mark on men's. The British designer’s input won't be visible before next year, according to a spokesperson for the house.
As the show was held in a rundown underground train depot, one expected some grit. Instead, the collection was rather uneventful, focusing on user-friendly clothes with a rock-and-roll undercurrent (studs on black jackets and boots). The trenchcoats and elongated tuxedo jackets looked well-cut and the artsy sleeveless tops and a pair of pants with an apron effect stood out. But it seemed like a warm-up while awaiting John Galliano.
It’s safe to say that Rick Owens’ shows have become the buzziest of our time. There was Zebra Katz, then the sorority performers, and those fleeting penises. But this time around, the buzz didn’t come from the maverick. Halfway through his spring 2016 men's show, one of his models, Jera, brandished a piece of fabric that read “Please Kill Angela Merkel Not,” with the Not part somewhat obscured. [Honoring the house's wishes, we have chosen not to run the image here.]
The model has walked the designer’s shows for many years, even wearing one of the body-revealing tunics that caused such an uproar last season, however no information is available about the his motivations. His agency, the Berlin-based Tomorrow Is Another Day, could not be reached for comment and his pictures could not be found on their website. Reportedly, Owens reacted backstage by punching Jera in the face.
Other than that, the show’s biggest novelty was a sort of tunnel hairdo — think pompadour gone wild — that made recognizing faces difficult, and should make kissing more so. The tunnel shape was a reference to cyclops, the mythological creature with a unique focal point, but it also served as a metaphor for the designer, a practitioner of creative tunnel vision. This is meant in a positive way. He’s an outstandingly focused, forward-looking provocateur, and this new line-up crystallized his obsession with military attire and draping.Read More
For his latest Louis Vuitton men's collection, veteran traveler Kim Jones visited remote Southeast Asia, leaving a trail of electrified silky prints on the runway.
A retro soundtrack, provided by legendary music producer Nile Rodgers, worked well with the pajama-inspired two-pieces and shiny leather trenches.
Who says boys can't wear tricked-out satin bombers? Not Jones, as his slick models were decked out in embroidered outerwear and satin monogram scarves, giving the collection the touch of sophistication that is synonymous with the French house.