PARIS: Day one of Paris’ menswear collections Wednesday for spring-summer 2013 saw all eyes on designer Raf Simons.
The 44-year-old Belgian has, of course, recently taken the creative helm of fashion powerhouse Christian Dior, following John Galliano’s unceremonious departure last year.
That the menswear show was a bigger affair than last season’s, sprawling over two floors, might lead some to think that the added interest wasn’t just for the suit-heavy clothes.
In other shows, Mugler’s Nicola Formichetti played it safe on familiar “insectoid” territory.
This time, the show channeled underwater, sea-creature variations on the house founder Thierry Mugler’s famous Insect collection from the 1990s.
The added twist? Cleverly deconstructed suits.
The suit was also a strong feature at the debut Paris showing of English house Hardy Amies, who revamped tailoring from different decades.
Thursday’s collections include Issey Miyake Men and Dries Van Noten.
Raf Simons jolted spectators to focus on his men’s designs, turning up the volume on disturbing syncopated music to open the show.
The unsettled feeling in the music lent itself immediately to the garb – an array of lean yet loose silhouettes.
Moody models with long asymmetrical fringes filed out in seven dark, lean and near-identical two-button suits.
It would have been a case of deja vu – had it not been for the subtle variations, such as color tone, the positioning of pockets, and sneakers versus patent leather shoes.
As the collection progressed, Simons seemed to loosen up a little, allowing printed elongated T-shirts a dash of color, and on-trend white boxy shirts a floral collar flourish.
The color must have been infectious. The floral prints soon spread their way from collars to cover the entirety of several joyous day coats.
This strong collection thus came full circle on that happy note. The only drawback: The girly touches might not be a big hit with buyers.
Bored of the buzz of human life, Mugler’s Nicola Formichetti plunged the depths of the oceans for his menswear collection.
Art-deco structures and angular shoulders combined with breastplate cutouts Wednesday to give silhouettes the feel of an exoskeleton.
Holographic shirts and nylon-bonded silk gave the proceedings a distinctly watery feel. But why the need to travel to such murky depths for inspiration?
“I just wanted to go somewhere where there’s no Wi-Fi – everyone’s always tweeting. So I went to undersea creatures,” Formichetti said backstage, with trademark humor.
In truth, the concept was just a detail: More important was the accomplished play on suit structures. Elements of a traditional single-breasted ensemble were reversed and deconstructed – shorts with sported suit trouser pockets poking visibly down the thigh, while flat trapezoid bibs featured in the place of shirts, futuristically.
On one pale single-breasted gray suit in rippling jacquard, a deconstructed pocket gave the classic cut a subtle kick.
It was an interesting collection – that is, if you have the stomach for Mugler’s somewhat recurring obsession with mollusks – now a signature.
Why so many crustaceans?
Formichetti quipped: “I was just a weird child.”
It was sartorial elegance at Savile Row tailor Hardy Amies’ menswear show, with a pinch of fun.
It was the company’s first show in the French capital but the classic English designer is no newcomer. He has a storied past – from pre-war collaborations with royal photographer Cecil Beaton to being Queen Elizabeth II’s dressmaker until his retirement in 1989. He died in 2003.
Now under the creative direction of Claire Malcolm, the house has not lost the eye on its history.
It was a dapper display of fitted suits for a veritable Englishman: broad rolled shoulders framing peaked and shawl lapels, in styles of bygone days.
Opening the show was a white Kent-cut suit, a double-breasted style popularized by the Duke of Kent and Edward Windsor, both uncles of the queen. “It’s nice to play on English silhouettes,” Malcolm said backstage. “The Duke of Windsor was the most stylish man that ever lived.”
In a nod to Amies’ time in Special Operations during World War II, military uniform styles – classically rendered single-breasted and lean – filed past in shades of sand, khaki and drab olive.
“I am not saying war is glamorous,” he said, “But it’s amazing as Hardy was the only man during the war who still managed to get his suit tailored at Savile Row.”
Blazers on knee-length cotton shorts and a multicolored knitted sweater added a dash of British tongue-in-cheek.
“That was the point,” he added. “There’s luxury cloth, but then it’s frivolous. Hardy was so fun, so witty.”