Paris menswear opens with Lukhanyo Mdingi, Bluemarble and Egonlab
Paris Menswear season – showing clothes for winter 2022 - opened Tuesday with an impressive trio of collections from three very disparate young designers, underlining the ability of the City of Light to attract dynamic, new talent, even in the never-ending pandemic.
A South African; a Franco-Filipino and a Paris-based duo showed highly contrasting shows and clothes in three distant arrondissements, each of them announcing their brands as distinctive new destinations for urban hipsters and followers of fashion who yearn for the new.
Below, we catch up with the trio - Lukhanyo Mdingi, Bluemarble and Egonlab - as Paris kicked off its six-day menswear season that ends on Sunday evening.
Lukhanyo Mdingi – 'Into Africa'
Paris menswear opened at 3 pm CET with a moment of grace, a sparsely attended event but very charming collection, cast and cultural moment by Lukhanyo Mdingi, a quietly spoken South African designer.
A cool blend of African fabrics, preppy sensibility and rough local textiles unveiled in an obscure gallery in the eastern 11th arrondissement. Often echoing the great Malian photographer Malick Sidibé, though the collection emerged from a six-week stay by Mdingi in Burkina Faso, which borders Mali, in the latest interaction of the designer with an ethical fashion project.
“We found the most remarkable materials, and then blended them with our own sensibilities. Keeping true to ourselves but going somewhere new,” explained Mdingi, who entitled this array of clothes 'The Bodyland Collection'.
All presented with dignity on a cast of color, in multiple hues and multiple afros – from funky to frizzy, pharaonic to fabulous. As small groups of models strolled around the gallery together, a traditional weaver worked in one corner and a musician carefully plucked the strings of a tall Kora – a plucked harp-lute - to serenade the cast.
In one tableaux, a quartet of proud beauty: a Moroccan teenager in lozenge-pattern polo shirt with matching pants; a Nigerian chap in a scrunched up wool tank finished with ropes and tassels; a Haitian beauty in a taught lapeled, three-button white pants suit; a Senegalese youth in a ribbed tank with huge black varsity scarf. All managing to look contemporary, yet very much part of the own Continent’s classical cool.
Bluemarble – 'Archipelago Aesthetics'
Filipino rock stars set sail in the latest nautical, natty and noble Bluemarble collection by founder Anthony Alvarez, very much a designer to watch in menswear.
Nearly every look linked by maritime mode, like the brilliantly jumbled up, multi-button sailor’s pants worn over funky sneakers trimmed in faux gorilla fur in bitter orange or Clongowes purple.
Alvarez’s arty admirals marching around in a series of surreal seafaring duffle coats and parkas, inside a battered old building in a scruffy corner of Paris at the back of the Gare du Lyon. The best coats turned out to be made of tie-dye wool, as the designer tapped into his origins in the Philippines.
Best of all were the great patch-work graphic prints inspired by Vinta boats, a local tradition of decorating rectangular lug sails for important festivals in the south Philippines.
“They are so beautiful that when I discovered them I had to have them in this collection!” enthused the designer.
Part French and Filipino, Alvarez actually grew up in New York, and the supreme self-confidence of New Yorkers was well expressed in his rock-god finale with crystal-encrusted track pants; baggy skater jeans; fantasy paisley pants and primitive pattern crystalline cardigans.
“There was something about the huge egos of American rock stars that I wanted to capture,” conceded Alvarez, with a big smile in a pre-show preview.
Egonlab – Coligny Cool'
Spiritual matters at Egonlab, in a dramatic show in Paris’ most famous Protestant church, which opened with a tattooed face mock priest swinging a thurible of smoky incense.
Held inside the Temple of the Oratory, outside of which stands a statue of Admiral Coligny, whose murder by supporters of Catherine de' Medici unleashed the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572.
Though this show’s decadent deacon was followed up by smart haute-tailored gents, in three-piece suits, whose third element could be a mini kilt, or a taught mini.
In a co-ed collection, the Egonlab duo of Florentin Glémarec and Kévin Nompeix also showed femme fatales in razor-sharp black felt wool suits anchored by black platform boots; or strict black evening dresses with open backs into which the models looked poured.
Plus, the duo’s phantasmagorical toile de jouy-print shirts were sensational. All told, the collection was rather erratic – several bulbous padded puffers looked completely wrong, but when it comes to tailoring Egonlab offers something very new and very powerful.
A punchy Parisian counter-blast to street luxury and all the better for that. Good to be back in Paris.
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