Paris Fashion Week Men: Mash-up Instagram mode rules
Paris Fashion Week Men actually had two live runway shows on Wednesday, the second of the six-day season, as the fashion capital cautiously emerges from the lockdown.
In both live shows before actual audiences, the designers went color crazy amid mash-up madness, in spring/summer 2022 collections from hipster French new labels – Bluemarble and Cool TM.
Elsewhere, J W Anderson and Courrèges unveiled strong style statements in purely digital displays.
Founded just two years ago by the Filipino-French designer Anthony Alvarez, Bluemarble staged its debut runway show in the courtyard of the Archive National, a magnificent palace in the heart of the Marais.
Even before the show began, the brand already seem fired-up and full of momentum, as a score of local rap stars took their seats in the front row of the courtyard’s loggia.
Proud of his part Filipino origin, Alvarez riffed on everything from tropical surfers to St Tropez playboys in a high energy show; mixing up unlikely garments and assemblages. Like pairing dueling shirts over silk t-shirts and pajama pants.
A runway bursting with color from the cargo pants in silk prints that included coral, tropical birds; coconuts, bright whistles and buoys. Sweatpants came in bitter orange, jeans emblazoned in sherbet-hued star fish.
Backed up by a rocking soundtrack, like Missy Elliott’s song Scream A.K.A. Itchin’, Alvarez won a huge roar of applause as he ran all the way around the courtyard before his bow.
“I wanted the sense of youth appropriating an historic location in the center of Paris. I’m inspired by American sportswear and from surfing in the Philippines, but with a French touch,” explained Alvarez, who called his prints 'Marchand de Sable' or sand merchant, as they referenced objects one found washed up on shore.
Unveiled before less than 100 guests in a beautifully ram-shackled old Haussmann mansion overlooking the city’s grand statute of George Washington.
Which felt like a good location for Cool TM's mélange of arty, preppy American-dude style with French high-fashion and costume designs. Designer Thomas Monet is certainly irreverent enough to send out offbeat versions of the Chanel jacket worn over hyper-distressed denim loon pants; or hyper-feminine floral teal blue floral-print pants paired with faux-crocodile jerkins.
For day, or evening, he presented lots of oversized mixes – most strikingly couture metallic jacket pants worn under a massively exaggerated lime green sweatshirt and a battered acid-dyed yellow camouflage sleeveless jean jacket finished with pearls.
If that sounds like way too much that is because it was. And ideal for the Instagram generation where the whole point of the exercise is to turn heads and look like you are just back from a music festival.
J W Anderson
The London-based designer staged a double-header look-book and video collection seminar for his men's spring/summer 2022 and women’s resort 2022 collections.
During the pandemic, this designer has sent editors and VIPs very handsomely prepared “shows in the box,” and this was no exception. His latest look-book was 33 printed images shot by Juergen Teller; accompanied by a “video message” from the brand’s founder and creative director Jonathan Anderson posted on the house’s social media and on the Paris Fashion Week platform.
The German photographer’s prints all wrapped up inside 18th-century paper with a painting of a squirrel eating an acorn next to a bowl of strawberries, in a beautiful image.
In his explanatory video, Anderson showed-off pictures within pictures – with many looks in frames perched on chairs, or tacked onto walls.
“When I was younger, we used to get our pictures taken at school and you’d get these packs of photos and frames. I liked that concept of each of the photos being able to stand on their own. You could even put it on your mantelpiece,” explained the Northern Irish designer.
Shot on location at a banal suburban home in southeast London, the collection featured his anchor logo chunky knits; cut-out oversized tops; seaside-stripe flared cocktails for gals.
For guys – giant strawberry print tracksuits; logo boxer shorts; abstract floral parkas or outside daisy tops. Throughout, his JWA logo was everywhere; from pool sandals, to white socks, to chenille tanks.
Indulgence and hedonistic, the collection was meant to evoke those moments in one’s bedroom where you can pretend to be anyone you want, according to the program notes.
However, the self-editing button never appears to have been pressed in this collection from the green strawberry print knits to the beaded curtain dresses. Even pillows got reconfigured as dresses in what was ultimately an intriguing, yet inconclusive fashion statement.
One brand suddenly on the move, and very rapidly, is Courrèges -- a house that many have attempted to revive, but now under the creative direction of Nicolas di Felice -- seems, well, relevant.
Nicolas has been very faithful the house’s pop-futurist DNA, riffing on early 60s checks; cut-outs and uber white trapeze coats and dresses. Yet the result never looked literal or hackneyed.
His super-hero silhouette for guys; and retro space-age lines for gals managed to be contemporary. What rock star wouldn’t want to wear the white sleeveless Nehru logo jacket with the AC logo? Or gal, the black patent leather version with funnel neck.
Above all, one doesn’t get the sense of a designer trapped in the archives, or that Nicolas is trying too hard. Nothing feels forced.
And as someone who remembers actually meeting an about to retire André Courrèges, and marvelling at his bonhomie and pride, this new direction at the house would have made the founder proud.
Unveiled on the house’s Instagram account, and staged on an unsmiling cast, this was the best styled collection so far in Paris. Full marks to Marie Chaix.
And to the smart guys who hired Nicolas di Felice.
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