Paul Smith and Officine Générale bring tailoring back
Paris Fashion Week presented the collections of two lovers of precise and relaxed tailoring: Sir Paul Smith and his '80's-inspired pieces and a French chic lineup by Pierre Mahéo, founder of Officine Générale.
Officine Générale explores volumes and fluidity
A newfound sense of maturity emanated from Officine Générale’s Spring/Summer 2023 collection. While Mahéo denied having any interest in the 10th anniversary of his Paris-based brand, his relaxed and accessible tailored pieces, presented right after the storm of a late Parisian afternoon in the courtyard of the National Archives Museum, was enriched with voluminous and fluid fabrics.
A casual elegant spirit, the materials selected, and the savoir-faire used in the men’s jackets and pants in a color palette ranging from deep black, to celadon green, espresso brown, sand and pale pink, were elements that most notably caught the audience's attention. Both the female and male key pieces were worn with light tone-on-tone shirts or striped tops.
Ready for the sea or the desert, the male and female models tied large silk scarves around their necks or in their hair, wearing skin-tight sweaters and cardigans or dresses, pants, and hoodies cinched with drawstrings. They sported leather sandals, nubuck mules or light monochromatic low top sneakers on their feet. This collection enriched Officine Générale's product range with its volumes and materials. The designer dared to offer wider cuts while also exploring greater fluidity in menswear.
"Working on the women's collections made us evolve from menswear. I stopped identifying myself in every look I was proposing, otherwise it would only be gray and navy blue and it would get boring. And the color palette functions just the same as the silk or adding width in the pants. But we did this without going overboard with a totally oversized silhouette. I think you can pair a wider jacket with regular pants, and vice versa. These are all evolutions and it's important to be open to new things. We are lucky to have a customer base behind us. Our womenswear is more sophisticated, better constructed than before. We now offer 25 looks compared to the 15 we used to offer, and we even had a hard time choosing which looks to release since we had about 30 that we really liked.”
Silk could be found in loose-fitting pants with geometric prints for both men and women. Denim popped up here and there and so did leather, which was used for jackets as well as for a stunning pair of caramel pants.
Mahéo kept his signature Parisian chic style for this collection, but it served as an opportunity to appeal to a wider audience with silhouettes that could soon be seen in the Hamptons or on the Californian coast. Officine Générale is preparing to open seven new stores with the support of American investment firm, The Untitled Group.
"Since the opening of our store in New York, business is exceeding our expectations in the United States," explained the CEO. "We are opening two new stores in Los Angeles and a second store in New York. We are also going to open stores in France, in Aix-en-Provence and Lyon, and will dedicate a new store in the 9th arrondissement of Paris to our Daily Classics line. Things are coming along very well.”
Despite not wishing to celebrate its 10th anniversary, Officine Générale commemorates it nonetheless by presenting this magnificent collection.
Paul Smith: Work and leisure
Paul Smith managed to conjure up the 80’s without an ounce of nostalgia in the outcome. The British designer crafted a lightweight suit with love, worn by men that appeared to be going to the beach.
"It's encouraging to see people go back to tailoring, but in lighter, more wearable weights," said Sir Paul backstage as he stood in front of photographs from the fashion show.
Staged inside a condemned post office in the 11th arrondissement, the collection featured numerous zippers, many of which were finished with artistic references - from floaty coats and gorgeous trenches, to a perfectly cut suit with a air-brushed rust effect finish. The show started and ended with sweaters printed with a variety of colors that were Mark Rothko-worthy.
The pieces were all rendered in a contemporary color palette that included lavender, pale grey, pistachio and an impressive dull navy blue and were paired with beautiful jungle print coats and dress shirts.
"Liquid fabrics wrapped around the torso, and '80s references like wide lapels and notched low collars," enthused Sir Paul, who was inspired by gallery visits and '80s art installations.
"A day in an art gallery, in clothing you can actually wear. I'm quite happy with this collection," he smiled, before suddenly handing a pair of socks to critic Luke Leitch and letting out a loud laugh.
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