After the myriad fantasies presented in Milan - from the seabound excursion at Prada to the haute vintage extravaganza at Gucci – we journey on to Paris for its men’s fashion week starting tomorrow. The city has always been the heart of the fashion months, full of breathtaking innovation and boundary-pushing designers. And we can’t wait to see the stories unfold this season.
As in previous years, we’re excited to see the seasoned vanguard of conceptualists showcase this time around, including Walter Van Beirendonck, Yohji Yamamoto and Maison Margiela. Storied houses including Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Valentino will also be featured, alongside emerging brands like Études and AMI.
Below, we select the top labels that are getting our fashion-loving hearts racing again. The city of light, here we come.
It’s all about the elusive ease of the Parisian lifestyle, when it comes to AMI, founded in 2011 by Alexandre Mattiussi. Its forte is casual but elegant sportswear, with an easy, undone feel. Last season, the brand showcased lots of outerwear with relaxed tailoring and small reliefs of bright colours on an otherwise neutral, wearable palette.
AMI will be showcasing in its hometown again on Saturday night and we look forward to another flirtation with the cool Parisian characters proposed by Mattiussi.
Véronique Nichanian has often described Hermès as a house of objects. And we love the brand for just this reason: its veritable flânerie of precious pieces within each collection that one can’t help but obsess over. Last season saw a fleet of effortlessly styled models in luxurious fabrics, including silk, python and goatskin. All the looks were accented with pastel colours and neck scarves, in the typically playful Hermès spirit. We look to Hermès for its exacting craftsmanship, whimsical patterns and modern elegance.
Lanvin, one of the oldest and much beloved of French fashion houses, is the epitome of feminine refinement and luxury. The turbulent departure of Alber Elbaz from Lanvin was another in a series of shocking designer departures last year. In the final collection overseen by Elbaz, SS16 presented candid luxury with relaxed proportions, simple silhouettes and frayed hems. This season, the brand’s in-house design team will be presenting its first menswear collection bereft of Elbaz’s creative direction, led by Lucas Ossendrijver. We’ll miss the wit and singularity brought forth by Elbaz, but also await the upcoming collection with curiosity.
What strikes us about Officine Generale collections is their potent mix of nonchalance and luxury. They feel unaffected, timeless and unfettered by gimmicks or contrivances. Last season was the brand’s first excursion onto the catwalk (it was founded in 2012). Inspired by the image of Marcello Mastroianni in his Parisian neighbourhood, the collection saw models clad in lightweight, softly-draped suiting, and a continental colour story of predominently whites, beige, navy and grey. In their ethos of simplicity and exacting craftsmanship, Officine Generale is truly making clothes men want to wear.
We love Paul Smith for his juxtaposition of tradition and modernity, and the inherent coolness of the British guy he proposes. Sir Paul Smith’s charming LC:M presentation last week was a literal cabinet of curiosities. Recreating his first shop opened in 1970 in Nottingham, his collection of vintage track and bomber jackets were surrounded by carefully curated memorabilia and guarded by Homer, Smith’s afghan hound.
But the Paris catwalk show is the paramount menswear event for Paul Smith, and exhibits the brand’s most prolific narrative of the season. SS16 saw a music-driven production of suiting, informed by rock ’n’ roll references such as skinny ties, leather trousers, and stage-ready metallic fabrications.
Architectural, radical, and deeply entrenched in the realms of subculture, we’re constantly enthralled by the designs of Raf Simons. Simon’s self-taught design origins lie in menswear, and his progressive aesthetic is a fundament of the menswear landscape today. Last season saw an intriguing meditation on the notion of a gang: boys menaced the runway donning heavy-duty chains, contemporary streetwear, cultish robes, and the stylings codes of the senior citizen community. We keenly anticipate his next collection, no doubt another witty and iconoclastic provocation of contemporary menswear.
Umit Benan’s designs embody refined masculinity time and time again. Entitled “Tennis Club de Cartagena, Colombia” his last collection was an immersive romance of brooding characters that we won’t soon forget. Staged in a Peruvian restaurant in the outskirts of Paris, the Turkish designer’s collection played on references to Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, with military details and old world tailoring. Yet far from being costume, the collection held its virtue in a contemporary context, with some truly covetable tailored pieces.
We enjoy Benan’s designs for their natural elegance and exciting reference points. Benan is a natural storyteller known for creating a colourful world behind each collection, and we can’t wait to be immersed in his latest piece of fiction.
Text by Jainnie Cho