PARIS: Belgian designer Raf Simons got Paris fashion week off to an unconventional start, busing hundreds of people out to the distinctly less than fashionable Paris suburb of Le Bourget. But the designer, who as well as his having his own label is also artistic director at Christian Dior, made up for Wednesday’s hourlong trek on the Paris ring road and A1 motorway with a highly experimental collection with some pieces creating the impression the models were wearing minidresses.
In one look, a bare-legged male model sported what appeared to the uninitiated to be a short-sleeved button-up black minidress teamed with black shoes and calf length socks.
Fashion website fashion.com, however, praised the outfit as “unquestionably the drop crotch short-short onesie of the season.”
Other ensembles had a similarly feminine feel including black shorts that looked like a miniskirt worn with a black and white striped belt and long-sleeved pink shirt.
Motifs were embroidered with sequins and tunic tops came in pink and purple stripes.
Unusually, the event was held outside Paris at U.S. art mogul Larry Gagosian’s cavernous art venue, northeast of the city.
Opened in 2012, it is the first major gallery to be set up inside airport grounds, aiming to showcase works too big to be accommodated by inner city Paris or London locations.
Simons’ label said the Gagosian Gallery was chosen so the collection could be unveiled alongside the work of artists he “intensely relates to,” adding that it would continue his “ongoing exploration of a young man in the city.”
Earlier, on the first of five days of menswear collections, young designers Julien David and Guillaume Henry gave the fashion world a taste of what’s in store for spring/summer 2014, from socks with sandals to bow ties with boiler suits.
Tokyo-based Frenchman David presented a reggae-inspired mix of casual and formal.
Long “stadium” and military-style jackets were worn over shorts, again creating a skirt-like look, while flamboyant neckwear was teamed with one-piece suits.
Elsewhere shirts and T-shirts were emblazoned with tropical motifs or the words “madness,” “peace” and “war” and combined with low-rise, jacquard or chino trousers.
At Carven, creative director Henry, who like David is in his mid-30s, opted for short-cut jackets and cropped trousers in dusty green, mustard, orange or gray, with models sporting floppy hats and an androgynous look.
It was the French designer’s footwear, however, that stood out – strappy blue and beige leather sandals worn with socks.
One Twitter user commented: “Anyone else feeling conflicted about the sandals and socks styling?”
The men’s collections wind up Sunday with Saint Laurent designer and champion of the pencil-thin skinny suit Hedi Slimane’s second menswear collection for the label following a grunge-dominated debut.
The interest in the French designer’s work comes as men’s collections become more important commercially.
Indeed, until last year, menswear at London Fashion Week was restricted to a single day at the end. It has now been allocated four.
Then, Monday, the highlight of the season – Christian Lacroix’s return to Paris fashion for the first time in four years – will mark the start of four days of autumn/winter 2013/2014 haute couture shows.
The darling of 1990s fashion editors will present 18 pieces paying tribute to Elsa Schiaparelli, the Italian designer who died in 1973 and who was famed for her collaborations with Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau.
The label, which closed in 1954 after failing to adapt to postwar austerity, was officially reopened in July 2012 having been purchased in 2006 by Diego Della Valle, head of the Italian leather goods company Tod’s.
Lacroix lost his his fashion house in December 2009 when a Paris bankruptcy court approved a plan to end production of the classic label’s haute couture and ready-to-wear lines.