Paris Menswear Season braces for heatwave and welcomes a quintet of debutants
Paris Menswear Season opens Wednesday with five days of catwalk excitement, and five new debutants on the official calendar with the capital in an optimistic mood following the victory Emmanuel Macron and his new generation party, En Marche, in last weekend’s legislative elections. Even if the season starts in the city with heightened security arrangements for many shows.
With 52 runway shows on the official calendar, and scores of presentations, openings and parties, Paris is now the largest men’s fashion season in the world. However, in the wake of ongoing terrorist attacks, the Chambre Syndicale, French fashion’s governing body, has recommended stricter door policies at many shows.
Take Yohji Yamamoto, which warned all guests in a formal letter that the ID cards will be requested at the entrance; handbags checked; to avoid any extra luggage “and not to forward the personal invitation to anybody else without our consent.” Yamamoto’s show will take place in his Les Halles headquarters where guests traditionally pass security guards and PR people via a narrow entrance.
“We have extended the measures we introduced after the attacks of last year. We work now in very close cooperation with the Prefecture de Police in Paris. They have a presence at all shows. Security is very important to us,” stressed Pascal Morand, Executive President of the Chambre Syndicale.
The season’s big opening show event will be in the Bois de Boulogne where Balenciaga stages inside a secret location on Wednesday, with Paris also braced for an intense heat wave – in the high thirties. Those not invited can watch the show live via Balenciaga.com. Which, intriguingly is showing a video of intertwined and rotating car tires.
Milan suffered from a radically reduced schedule this past weekend, as major brands like Gucci, Etro and Bottega Veneta decided to present their menswear in the same show as their women’s collections. That is not the case in Paris, where key labels like Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Christian Dior have resisted any such move. Nonetheless, Givenchy – where Clare Waight Keller took over this spring after a 11-year reign by Riccardo Tisci - will take a hiatus.
Paris loves nothing more than a debut and throwing their hats into the ring are: Angus Chiang, a Taiwanese designer and LVMH finalist who has shown in Vancouver; Namacheko, a brother-and-sister Kurdish duo who moved to Sweden in their youth; Hed Mayner, and Israeli born designer with a rather spiritual side. While UK star Alexander McQueen returns to the French capital after a break in Florence and before that London, underlining how Paris is slowly but surely winning the fight for menswear hegemony.
The Chambre has also created a special pass for editors, buyers and visitors to six Paris museums to catch exhibitions like Dalida in the Palais Galliera; Watteau to David in the Petit Palais and Derain, Balthus and Giacometti in the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris.
“It’s a new idea, the result of co-operation with the Paris City Hall – to facilitate access to great art and show the interaction between la mode and culture, which is central to Paris,” explained the Chambre’s Morand.
Off runway, OAMC, the hipster functional collection launched by Luke Meier in 2012 stages an after-show party on Wednesday; Maxime Simoens will fete his first Paris flagship in the Marais with a DJ set by La Femme; and the Chambre Syndicale will stage a soirée in the Jeu de Paume.
Designers often telegraph their intentions by their invites - like fashion tea leaves to discern their intentions. Few more so than Dries Van Noten; the Belgian will show in the former offices of newspaper Libération; while his invitation featured a photo of an ancient IBM computer, suggesting a retro mood. While at Rick Owens, who sent out mini silver metal busts of helmeted men evidently in some pain. In Owens' women’s show in March practically every model wore a hat. Can we expect helmets on Thursday?
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