Paris Men's Fashion Week Fall 2016: Day 1-3

Valentino Fall 2016 Menswear

Yes, it's fashion protocol, but pinning one's mood(s) to a board to telegraph a collection always seems an act of casual faux-creative cruelty not unlike skewering a once-fluttering butterfly in a vitrine. This evening at Valentino, though, the mood board was a beautiful, beautiful thing: because they—there were four densely packed indexes of influences—helped enormously to delineate the outrageous variety of thought mustered by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli as they mustered this collection. From Burroughs to Kerouac via mixtapes, Pearly Queens (Gucci went there, too), punks, wage slaves, Paul, Mick, John, Sid, Sartre, ethnicity, and several dissertations' worth more. So what was the unifying factor? Chiuri said: "It's about groups. About On the Road, Into the Wild. It's about a trip around the world but also into yourself." Piccioli added: "It's starting from the idea of existentialism. As coming out from a safe situation and rethinking the new, a sense of being a man in the world. Existentialism was born between the two World Wars and it became more strong after the Second World War, after dignity was destroyed. You have to find your own individuality, your own way to express yourself." The upshot was that this was a valiantly sincere effort to engage with the real problems of now through the entirely insufficient medium of gorgeously made menswear. After a long—borderline worryingly long—black turtleneck section that came spiked with studded businessman but was an ode to the founding fathers of ontological dissonance (Jean-Paul S and Albert C), this collection exploded into mood board–spawned variation. The point was to present man as his own narrative device, his own protagonist, author of his story. Yes, the fact that it was done so within the remit of a fashion show was perhaps unintentionally ironic, but the message stood. Clothes are articulated only by their wearer—but this Valentino show collection gave you something to say, beautifully, straight out of the box.

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Raf Simons Fall 2016 Menswear

For Fall 2016 Simons constructed a complex labyrinth of wood, like a series of twisting alleys culled from a horror film, around which his audience loitered, waiting for the models to appear. When they did, they dashed erratically through the crowds in oversize sweaters, coats, and down jackets, those in the latter crushing against the audience as they strode past. The soundtrack wasn't music, but rather composer Angelo Badalamenti discussing his collaboration with the director David Lynch, whose birthday coincided with Simons's show. The latter was coincidence, Simons said, but it transformed the presentation into some sort of ode to Lynch. Pressed against those walls, watching those clothes, it seemed very Lynchian—that odd combination of the mundane and the macabre. Simons issued guests with pamphlets, but rather than decipher the collection into lazy sound bites, they deliberately added to its obtuseness. Said paper was printed with a litany of key words and phrases, seemingly disconnected. "All the things on this list were what was on my mind," Simons said. "Not trying to think about the stories I could make. Very fragmented." It included a bunch of artists (among them Lynch and also Cindy Sherman), some place names, movie titles, and cryptic statements like "The Boy Scout" or "Red Americana / Flemish blue." Simons halted the habitual quizzical stampede backstage with a sigh. "Everything is there," he said, of that ambiguous palimpsest. Then he asked, laughing, "Do we have to do this now? Do you have time tomorrow? I have so much time!" How about that for challenging fashion right now? Simons's central notion this season was time—turning it back, charting its passage, and taking his. He was thinking back through 20 years of his own archive, and although the collection was formulated while still ricocheting along on the Dior schedule (one he'd been frantically attempting to keep up with for a decade, including his tenure at Jil Sander), the empty hours gave him the rare and precious opportunity to not only consider, but reconsider. He thought a lot, he said, about Martin Margiela—the man, not the label—how he orchestrated his exit from his eponymous house, and about his influential body of work. Simons isn't unique—nor even rare—in his admiration for the always-admired, often-imitated Margiela. But his clear articulation of Margiela as a reference is noteworthy for a number of reasons. First off, because so many designers would naturally shy away from overt homage to a figure so pivotal to contemporary fashion. Second, because the collection was so Margiela, in its distressing, its conspicuous wear, XXL-scale sweaters and coats slipping and sliding off the figure—a point that only exacerbated the first. Generally, you expect designers to cloak such open reverence. And thirdly, because it highlighted that, really, Simons has been following in Margiela's tabi-toed footsteps all along—he's previously stated it was a Margiela show that triggered his interest in entering the industry. It was a show that Simons himself declared didn't look like a fashion show. "But it was more about how I felt—something so meaningful, so totally from the heart that show, that collection." Just as Simons's shows also don't resemble fashion shows, they also evoke the same complex emotional response: They're always remarkable, always from the heart. The clothes here were sloppy, careworn, ripped and patched back together, like walking representations of memories. There were Boy Scout uniforms, maturing into high school sweaters, randomly patched with meaningless letters—a depersonalized history, one we observers weren't privy to. Alternately dwarfing models or abbreviated high up, trousers skinny and cropped short on the ankle, these seemed like clothes destined to be grown into, or already grown out of, clothes that represented an implied passage of time. Uncomfortable clothing. That all-important list on the pamphlet included four Simons collections, from the early 2000s, whose patched and frayed layers were echoed in these tattered, moth-holed, memory-riddled garments. Simons called the collection Nightmares and Dreams. "I always like creating beautiful things," he said, "but it's interesting when something's weird, something's dark. Something goes wrong." He for one wasn't making a wide and sweeping social statement. Rather, Simons was wrapped up in himself, in his own world, in his dreams and nightmares, the navel-gazing of the teenager we all are at heart. It's easy to see that as a direct response to shrugging off the identity of Christian Dior, reclaiming Simons as his own man. But it's something he's done repeatedly, with many a collection, with just as much success. That Raf Simons can so persistently project his personal world externally, and pull in so many, ranks him up high with auteurs like Lynch, with artists like Sherman. The dream weavers.

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Issey Miyake Fall 2016 Menswear

It may be a cash cow, but the trouble with something as ubiquitous as Miyake's pleasing pleats—and, to be frank, something so frequently and readily referenced by other designers—is that you get bored. As a designer and as an observer. So, how to experiment without alienating? How to offer something new without losing your identity? That's the issue Issey Miyake's menswear designer Yusuke Takahashi tackles every season. Generally, Takahashi eschews pleats—which is a wise decision. Instead, he founds the house's menswear collections in fabric technology and a sense of ease—the ethos of pleats, without the folding. For Fall, he called the show Neonomad, a cluster of scrubland grass around the runway providing a nuance of the alien. It felt a little bit spaghetti Western, especially against the concrete architecture of the Palais de Tokyo, a French civic center with a Japanese-inspired name. How's that for travel already? The clothes themselves were inspired by disparate cultures—that old fashion cliché of a gone roamin' show mashing together Mongolian knits, horse riding, a few dresses and skirts for men, and sarouel-wrap trousers, visual shorthand for the exotic. The "neo" bit came through in the aforementioned garment tech, in Takahashi's bubbly horsehair knits or fabrics described as wrinkle-free, form-stabilizing, functional, lightweight, washable, non-iron. All the things a peripatetic modern life may demand of clothing—the ills of contemporary travel, solved in one fell swoop.

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Rick Owens Fall 2016 Menswear

It may be a cash cow, but the trouble with something as ubiquitous as Miyake's pleasing pleats—and, to be frank, something so frequently and readily referenced by other designers—is that you get bored. As a designer and as an observer. So, how to experiment without alienating? How to offer something new without losing your identity? That's the issue Issey Miyake's menswear designer Yusuke Takahashi tackles every season. Generally, Takahashi eschews pleats—which is a wise decision. Instead, he founds the house's menswear collections in fabric technology and a sense of ease—the ethos of pleats, without the folding. For Fall, he called the show Neonomad, a cluster of scrubland grass around the runway providing a nuance of the alien. It felt a little bit spaghetti Western, especially against the concrete architecture of the Palais de Tokyo, a French civic center with a Japanese-inspired name. How's that for travel already? The clothes themselves were inspired by disparate cultures—that old fashion cliché of a gone roamin' show mashing together Mongolian knits, horse riding, a few dresses and skirts for men, and sarouel-wrap trousers, visual shorthand for the exotic. The "neo" bit came through in the aforementioned garment tech, in Takahashi's bubbly horsehair knits or fabrics described as wrinkle-free, form-stabilizing, functional, lightweight, washable, non-iron. All the things a peripatetic modern life may demand of clothing—the ills of contemporary travel, solved in one fell swoop.

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Louis Vuitton Fall 2016 Menswear

Kim Jones is an inveterate, insatiable traveler, but for the past five years (yes, he's been artistic director of Louis Vuitton's men's collections for that long) he's been calling Paris his home. Perhaps that's why Jones chose to dedicate his latest collection not to the far-flung locales he visits—in the past two months alone he's been to the Maldives, Los Angeles, and Tokyo—but to Paris generally, and Vuitton specifically. "Future Heritage" was the idea. Or, as Jones said, "Paris old and new." The old, everyone knows—the Tour Eiffel, Art Deco designs, scribbly Jean Cocteau–ish drawings, and indeed a pile of Vuitton trunks, an archetypal symbol of Frenchness. All were present—the Tour in spirit, visible from outside the Vuitton show space in Parc André Citroën—along with heirloom-style jewelry designed in collaboration with Jade Jagger and inspired by the rakish Parisian playboy Alexis von Rosenberg, Baron de Redé. His aesthetic style—dissipated European aristocrat—formed the basis of the opening passages (as they say in French). Billowy silk trenchcoats, narrow tailoring. A few berets. Chic, non? The new came, Jones said, from the fresh blood currently transfusing into Paris fashion. For Jones, that twisted the arts décoratifs into the arts utilitaire, peppering jackets with pockets, tugging trenches and blousons inside out. The latter is a common theme across the season, but keeping up with Jones's will take some doing. If he hadn't reversed them for me himself—thus revealing that he'd shown their ostensible innards, with pocket-bags dangling, outwards on the catwalk—I would never have realized. All those workman jackets had a tough, bonhomie appeal; the opposite to the slick sophistication of the featherweight silk and cashmere coating, intarsia shearlings patterned like Deco parquet, or suits in tobacco shades—like the Damier check—and a pure delphinium blue. Utility and decoration are continual themes at Vuitton, a house whose primary purpose, when founded back in 1854, was to serve. Monsieur Louis Vuitton was trunk-maker and packer to Empress Eugénie. Jones pinned his models' necks with dangling medallions bearing his face, like an old French coin: a Louis louis. Of course the bags were paramount—a new shady anthracite gray-on-black Monogram, dubbed the Eclipse, was used throughout, alongside shades of French navy and a laurel green Vuitton dubbed "Tuileries," for bags silkscreened with a gloss LV, the pattern winking in and out of visibility in the light. Some of the clothes bore trunk-stamps, symbolizing a symbiosis between clothing and accessory. What that symbiosis really meant is that the two worked together to forge a look, rather than either outshining the other. Many designers have been obsessed with history this season, but few present their new wares in the shadow of a major national institution honoring their old ones. Jones scribbled "Volez Voguez Voyagez" in a ribbony print, the title of the Vuitton retrospective currently packing them in at Paris's Grand Palais. His work is an ongoing conversation between now and then—tugging motifs and ideas from inside those glass vitrines and musty storerooms, dusting them off, making them feel as new as they originally did. Jones's use of the title "Future Heritage" for this collection wasn't an indication of inflated self-worth, but a statement of fact. This season, Jones created a clutch of micro-trunks, lined in mirror and designed as hyper-luxurious attaché case, Gatsby-ish mobile bar, and a ludicrously delicate tool kit. Those delicately wrought trunks are destined to slipstream into the Vuitton archives, alongside the originals that inspired them. Jones is creating his own history here at Vuitton. The catwalk is its exhibition. We're lucky we get the chance to see it twice a year.

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Dries Van Noten Fall 2016 Menswear

Or, to put it perhaps more-measuredly in context: Some shows you can barely remember by the time you get to the next one. That's just the pits. The majority of shows at least contain clothes and ideas (although not always both) that merit the effort to assemble some kind of sense of them—for good or ill, right or wrong. Then there are the big-house, big-production, big-budget, claquer-thronged jamborees that you know are going to drag you into their slipstream of hype, regardless of what's on the runway. They can be great, and they can be meh, but they will always splash. Rarest of all, though, are shows such as tonight's from Dries Van Noten, shows that you know immediately will linger in the memory years after, thanks to the gut-punch of their impact. That's incredibly rare in fashion. So why does tonight's rank up there? Well, the venue was a major factor—afterward Van Noten said that he had been trying to secure it for 15 years: "Every year we applied and applied and applied, and every year they said 'No.' But then they said 'Yes!' " The invitation read the Palais Garnier, that outrageous froth of Louis-Napoléon schlock-baroque in whose foyer and gallery Stella McCartney and Pigalle have both held shows before. This time, though, we had to go around the back of the building, through a heavily screened security foyer. Instead of clacking up a marble staircase framed with putti and gold, we creaked up a rough and splintery wooden one. Ushered through a small door we were suddenly on the eccentrically tilted stage of one of the world's greatest opera houses. Onstage. The Garnier stage is particular. It tilts forward at an angle—ballet dancers have to reconfigure their compass to master it. The sound of them landing on that stage makes it creak so much staff say it sounds like there are rats in the woodwork below. Tonight the audience flanked left and right. The main curtain rose to reveal the photographers—stage front, for a deserved change—with the yawning gold and velvet eye of the auditorium behind them. They waved and we whooped. Then the curtain rose, releasing a through-draught as the building exhaled, to reveal a phalanx of models, waiting. They came forward, circling a golden vaulted arch from Robert Carsen's set for Strauss's Capriccio. The show started softly, with a black wool trench delineated by a swirling curl of tricolor ribbon on the shoulder. An oversize but assiduously cut check suit, a DB jacket with that ribboning down its arm, brogue boots with Ghillie tassels, a black bomber with different colored ribboning at the waist—the buildup. Militaria advanced into the field of action: white wool shorts with some indistinct regimental regalia, worn over leggings; a black shirt molded to an olive drab skirt, back-pleated; and a great coat strafed with opaque chevrons. Then came the head-fry. Van Noten had recruited Wes Wilson, the graphic artist who drew the visual expression of the psychedelic West Coast at its '60s/'70s apex, to reconfigure his swirling menhir-like typeface and gaunt infinity-facing characters into decoration for this collection. It sucked you in, a trip. Perhaps only this venue could ever have competed with it. The psychedelic and the regimental crashed operatically into each other. Together collection and place combined in a tinglingly deep eye-massage. Afterward Van Noten said the venue had spoken to his ongoing interrogations: "What is reality? What is the dream? Where does everything start and begin? So for me it was really good to be able to show here onstage and not in a room. It turns your world a little bit upside down." It certainly did. What a privilege to see it.

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Loewe Fall 2016 Menswear

 

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Maison Margiela Fall 2016 Menswear

 

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Berluti Fall 2016 Menswear

 

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Source: vogue.com

 

Milan Men's Fashion Week: Day 1-3
Givenchy Spring 2016 Couture