PARIS: The final day of spring-summer 2013 menswear shows saw the return of legendary designer Pierre Cardin. Sixty-five years after he first burst onto the fashion scene, guests were treated Sunday to a rare celebration of the designer credited with inventing Paris menswear in the first place.
Cardin is the last survivor of the postwar Parisian couturiers, which include the likes of Christian Dior, Elsa Schiaparelli and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel.
To see the veteran take to the stage was a rare event: He turns 90 next week and this may well be one of his last shows.
In other collections, bold design was back.
Paul Smith used color with masculine confidence.
The British designer championed a vivid palette with a new carrot shape silhouette in trousers.
In the strongest show of the day French house, Lanvin defiantly bucked the trend for spring-summer and went monochrome.
The house moved in a new, contrasting direction, trumpeting a techno black and white early-1980s silhouette that harked back to the end of Glam Rock.
Waists were high and belted Sunday, baggy shirts with rolled short sleeves sported retro V-necks, and some models wore Elton John shades.
Where was the color, which was ubiquitous in most other menswear shows this season?
“I didn’t try to create anything to set a trend,” Lanvin’s creative director Alber Elbaz said backstage.
Here the brightness came in glam rock metallic sheen, reaching its most flashy in a traffic-stopping single breasted silver suit. It signaled a different, confident voice in this season’s fashion conversation.
Adam Ant could well have been sitting in the front row.
“It’s about contradictions, contrasts,” said Elbaz.
These certainly abounded – though they never detracted from the overall unity of the show.
Tensions were created by black on white, matte on sheen, and even some 1960s fitted suits that varied the Roxy Music silhouette.
The models all strutted on a plaftormed catwalk, influenced, Elbaz said, by a desire “to elevate fashion.”
With this forward moving show, in that goal he was successful.
Paul Smith’s went through the rainbow for a bold spring summer menswear collection for 2013.
Peach, forest green, rose pale blue, vermilion and lemon yellow filed past on models like successive tones on a color wheel. The statement was: This season’s man is happy, confident and proud of it.
There was some clear study done on finding the ideal palette: one ensemble in yellow ochre, terracotta, mint green and pale blue simply blossomed.
Strong shouldered-fitted suits with skinny pants hit the trend button, but also featured alongside a new carrot silhouette in the pant, with billowing pockets.
Print also featured strongly in fabrics splattered with dissected rose images.
But did the show’s brightness lack a manly edge? There’s no need to worry.
“If my customers come into my showroom, they’ll still find the navy blues, the rent payers,” said Smith backstage. “These bright colors are for a show of 12 minutes of impact, just a statement.”
Smith – a designer with a strong business mind – clearly understands how to design for men: softly, softly is the key.
“With [menswear] clothes for me it’s about nudging not shoving.”
It was a long-awaited comeback.
The legendary designer, famed for dressing the Beatles in collar-less jackets and taking high fashion to communist China, celebrated his long career with his first menswear catwalk show in several years, showcasing his signature space-age designs.
It was by far the most exhaustive menswear collection of the season, with a staggering 138 retro looks.
If none of the clothes felt very contemporary – chunky sweaters, collar-less suits and retro space age neoprene jackets – this was perhaps unsurprising: The designer turns 90 next week.
But despite his age, and a resume that spans 65 years, retirement is not in his vocabulary.
“Aesthetics is simply my craft,” said the designer backstage, “I’ve still got gasoline for tomorrow.”
The multimillionaire, who worked at Dior in his 20s, has not been slowed by age.
“I was the youngest couturier in Paris when I started, and now I’m the oldest,” he said. “It’s extraordinary, I’m still here!”