Last from Paris: GmbH, Phipps and Dunhill
Few fashion weeks are as international as Paris Menswear season, especially during the pandemic. As designers and marques never reach the French capital yet are determined to be listed on its official show schedule.
We looked at three strong fashion statements, from a rapidly rising design based in Berlin, GmbH; a classic London label enjoying a renaissance, Dunhill; and a San Francisco-born designer who has made Paris his home, Spencer Phipps.
Paris’ stand-out video show and collection was from GmbH, by two creators named Serhat Işık and Benjamin A. Huseby, who live in Berlin and have just been hired to design for the house of Trussardi in Milan.
GmbH, whose name comes from the German equivalent of 'Ltd Co.', shot a cool video that recalled that great early sci-fi classic THX 1138, with distances made redundant by all the endless white space.
In which GmbH Berliner buccaneers walked in multiple versions of the boots – from pirate to riding to Wild West, via Vegas.
Their vision is a pure one: wraparound Dick Turpin redingotes; disco dragoons with slim jodhpurs and show-jumper boots; pink silk shirts tied up Latin-lover style; powder-blue jeans completed with matching jockstraps.
They drape extra straps of fabric around the torso; and pipe and trim most looks, adding polish and even poise.
Politically they are also committed: their second look was a Free Palestine T-shirt; while red cashmere sweaters are finished with a white hammer and sickle.
Above all the duo captures the artistic ferment of Berlin without all the worn, rain-washed after-hours black clothes that one associates with Germany’s party and political capital.
It all manages to be proud, punchy and yet even preppy too – all the way to the great worn denim jeans paired with denim dressing gowns; or denim gown trimmed with white marabou feathers. All worn with superhero shades by the proudest of casts.
Işık and Huseby will make their Trussardi debut with the fall-winter 2022 season. Judging by this collection for their own brand, Trussardi will be the most anticipated show in Milan.
Phipps: Upcycled survivalist for summer 2021
“I’m trying to reclaim survivalist for a liberal point of view,” smiled bearded Spencer Phipps, the San Francisco designer who has created a burgeoning fashion house in Paris.
His aesthetic for next summer: workwear and active sportswear meets upcycling to create wearable funky fashion. Presented as a four-minute video on Sunday, the final day of Paris Menswear Week in Paris.
Like 90% of houses on the official calendar, Phipps skipped the runway this season, instead presenting a four-minute video that included outback nomads, wilderness weekenders and Mexican wrestlers, shot inside a virtual post-modern Coliseum.
What worked best were his patchwork ideas – like body-hugging mini jackets in Loro Piana pinstripes and panels of upcycled nylon; or abstract camouflage hunting gear for inner city raves.
Spencer is so into upcycling, he created a whole capsule based on famed club jerseys – from the Miami Dolphins to Manchester United. Using a vintage Man-U shirt, the sort once worn by Eric Cantona.
Phipps suggested that Cantona might work the shirt in his video. His agent brother loved the idea but suggested in return a fee of 100,000 euros.
Phipps demurred naturally - not exactly a survivalist fee.
Parka-mania at Dunhill, where designer Mark Weston has pushed the brand rather forward while maintaining a large dose of its Britishness.
His big idea this season was the concept of Identities, exploring uniforms and contrasting homespun versus sophistication.
“I wanted an evolution of last season, I don’t start randomly fresh from zero. More about playing and toying with codes.The Dunhill people – reflecting London and what’s contemporary in menswear,” added Weston in a Zoom from his Mayfair studio.
No show, but a gritty lookbook video where an inclusive cast are collaged before Edwardian redbrick London, strutting around in Weston’s techy active take on the storied UK label. Evolving his parkas into single-breasted archetypes; and playing with his multi-panel Compendium trenches. Reinventing the traditional in unexpected materials: like a classic shirt in white silk faille with a placket, all multi-puckered to make it look like seersucker. Or his Deco knitwear with four-pocket patch cardigans finished with elongated 'D' logos.
Weston’s other big innovation was working with photographer Ellen Carey – a photographic artist who works with Polaroids.
“What struck me about her work was the graphics, color and sense of abstraction,” explained the designer, who fused elements of Carey’s back catalogue into dramatic silk faille shirts and tops in a black and white abstract animal print. Leaving many with raw edges and trim, where the photographer’s name and photo were listed.
With the UK just about emerging from lockdown, how was the atmosphere in London?
“Our stores are open, and there has been good traffic. But remote working with factories is challenging. We’ve made things work, and I am happy but I cannot wait to actually visit the factory again!” he shrugs.
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