The new year always starts with men’s wear. Early January is Pitti Uomo which has made a habit of inviting the coolest designers to anchor the fair. So, Martine Rose sent the first weathered tailoring fashion message of the year followed by Milan shows where the simplicity of Prada and the fabric innovation and bold shapes of Zegna stood out. Paris is of course men’s wear heaven where Berlin DJ (44 Label Group) and magazine-led (032c) brands meet Japanese cool (Kolor) and royalty (Yohji Yamamoto), South Korean edge (Juun.J), American fresh air (Bode) and the stalwarts like Dior Men, Hermès and Louis Vuitton not to forget local rising brands like LGN by Louis Gabriel Nouchi and Israeli Hed Mayner. Here is what our editors saw and liked apart from the big reviews we published.
Mr. Miyake died last August and interesting facts came to the surface such as Steve Jobs of Apple wore only his black turtlenecks. This is exactly what this brand does so well. Provide a uniform for fashion heads who want to be comfortable. The collection was a master class in color matching like banana yellow or lime green and had basic geometric forms at its core.
Who needs a designer backstage when Rosalía is on the front stage sputtering her delicious Latino rap? Largely executed by the in-house design team with some ideas from superkid Colm Dillane of Brooklyn, the love of extreme cartoonish silhouettes and surrealistic effect double sleeves is still alive here. Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is what the new CEO Pietro Beccari will do. Keep Nicolas? Give him the men’s as well? Or surprise the industry?
This designer knows how to make desirable items of wardrobe favorites. One could sum up her secret sauce as Parisian chic staples in poppy colors like bright pink and not the ubiquitous cognac. Mohair cardigans go with sweatpants, and nobody makes a cooler bomber jacket than her. Tie dye even looks Parisian in her hands and not hippy.
Still the outfitter of eccentric art world gents, Yamamoto had Grand Palais director Chris Dercon in the front row and photographer Max Vadukul. They saw his take on work wear, beautiful velvet suits which are making a comeback in deep burgundies and a series of white and black color-blocking on shirts and jackets which looked simply cool. Still carried in the best stores in the world, the Japanese designer is a beloved fashion totem now.
Dries Van Noten
Oh, how much does this designer love a Parisian parking garage as a venue? It’s always a cool location and bringing in a troop of young Front 242 acolytes who performed live techno drums and handing out cans of Meteor and Stella Artois to the guests makes Van Noten even more relevant in his sixties. Of course, there was a rave theme to the clothes as in a washed-out denim hoodie and matching pants worn by a towering model on heeled boots and wraparound shades. The diving eagles on the knitwear were classic and clever.
Courrèges by Nicolas Di Felice
Leaving this presentation, we suddenly understood the secret of the recent Courrèges success. Di Felice is Belgian and not burdened by the legacy of this phare French house. So, he whips out original Courrèges patterns like a bulbous jacket with a short back but makes it in tough leather like a Belgian would and adding cool details like zippers on jackets that open up to the elbow. This is a house on growth mode as we see his clothes worn by editors and buyers everywhere.
This time Mr. Smith went back to his extensive company archive in Nottingham and brought back some beautiful tweeds and houndstooth fabrics and ideas like matching closures on jacket and pant hems. What’s best at this show? The energy of the 76-year-old designer. “I love life,” he exclaimed backstage while explaining the collection.
After a three-year Covid induced break from the Parisian runway Juun.J was back. And he was missed. He shows what a great designer he is on how he singularly handles his favorite themes of big volumes in street codes. Using grunge as a main theme he worked Perfecto leather jackets and classic bombers into new garments of elegant proportion with smart layering. The leather work was outstanding.
Kim Jones is masterful at handling a theme, whether it’s the Dior archives or rave culture. Recently he has specialized in using his extensive rare book collection to conjure up collections such as Jack Kerouac’s On the Road for a pre collection in London last year or now even a T.S. Eliot poem. The Waste Land is a famously difficult and melancholic poem about renewal and change and Jones used it to execute a theme of a coming together of the formal with the informal which meant beautifully tailored shorts and supple knitwear often covering only one side of the torso. Plus, he added details and constructions native to fishing and sailing like a super Ostfriesennerz. And yes, Yves Saint Laurent’s tenure at the house was also in the mix.
Chitose Abe is getting deeper into the collaborations game by using her latest runway to unveil her designs with Moncler, Carhartt and Nike. Inspired by the movie Interstellar, she added her irreverent layers and flaps of fabrics, zips and straps for an easy work wear-based collection.
With South Korea seriously trending in pop culture with a slew of its K-pop and K-movie stars as ambassadors for big brands like Dior and band Enhypen bringing down the house at Prada, this veteran Seoul label stands for classic tailoring with edgy details like long coats that close with two buttons slightly skewed to the right of the normal closure. The label is also at the forefront of printed K-denim which showed the volcano of Jeju island.
In perfect synch with the trend of clean lines and simple silhouettes, Véronique Nichanian pulled out classic men’s wardrobe staples like big pea coats with a leather lapel and firemen’s jacket closure. Elegance meets utilitarian at this house which decided to go back to the UNESCO building for this straightforward show. With black leather trending all over, nobody cuts a better black pleated trouser worn with thick knit turtlenecks than her.
One of the oldest French suit brands, is now helmed by artistic director Gauthier Borsarello who owns a vintage store and runs the men’s magazine l’Étiquette. Using the help of classic tailors for technical structure, he conjures up a world of French chic inspired by the Grands Boulevards in the 60’s. Suiting never looked cooler. As the look of the Parisienne is a worldwide phenomenon, Borsarello seems to have the talent to define a Nouveau Parisien look with his expert military references in his collection.