Menswear regains its muscle at Paris Fashion Week

Menswear proved to be in reinvigorated form as
Paris Fashion Week ended on Sunday, with spectacle, innovation and the return
of big-name designers to the catwalk.

The week concluded with the surprising return of fabled French designer
Hedi Slimane, formerly of Dior and Saint Laurent and now with Celine. Two
years ago, he had announced he was done with the official fashion calendar.

Slimane became hugely influential as a stylist and photographer for
musicians such as David Bowie, Mick Jagger, The Libertines and Daft Punk in
the early 2000s.

But he has not presented a live show since February 2020, having dismissed
them as “obsolete”, preferring to present collections with videos shot in
luxurious French locales.

He gave no explanation for his reappearance on the catwalk but returns amid
a sense of a renaissance in menswear. Fashionistas mobbed the gates to the
Palais de Tokyo in central Paris on Sunday.

Slimane’s new collection harked back to the indie-rock vibes that made his
name — skinny black trousers, even skinnier ties, golden suits and leather
jackets, and lots of dark sunglasses.

Celine men’s SS23 Courtesy of Celine

‘A boom’

The past few seasons have often seen men’s and women’s shows merging into
one — with London Fashion Week doing away with the distinction altogether.

But this week in Paris seemed to reaffirm the divide, with houses wanting
to boost their focus on menswear at a time when demand is rising.

US designer Matthew Williams presented his first-ever standalone menswear
show for Givenchy this week.

“It’s good to give space to men and women, to each and everyone their
platform to tell a story,” Williams told fashion site WWD. “There’s more room
for more looks.”

His show was grounded in real-life styles from his native California, he
said, with a lot of utilitarian knee-length shorts, cargo trousers and relaxed
knitwear — much of it in monochrome with a few splashes of pastel colours.

“Commercially, menswear is a market that has developed a lot with a
particularly strong dynamic in Asia that has created a boom for pret-a-porter
men’s designers,” said Serge Carreira, fashion expert at Sciences Po
University.

‘More accessible’

Also marking her first menswear show was France’s Marine Serre, one of the
biggest names to emerge in recent years.

The 30-year-old has made sustainability and inclusivity central to her
brand, and that was evident at her sports-themed show in a stadium outside
Paris on Saturday.

Many pieces were upcycled from old scarves and linen — that had been
turned into everything from speedos to flags and leotards.

The models came in all shapes and sizes, from children to older people,
alongside celebrities such as ex-footballer Djibril Cisse and Paralympic gold
medallist Alexis Hanquinquant, as well as Madonna’s daughter Lourdes Leon in
one of the house’s trademark moon-patterned bodysuits.

“Thirty percent of our sales have been for menswear in the last collections
— we’re not at 50/50 but we do quite a bit of men’s and we have no intention
of doing less,” Serre told AFP after the show.

“Upcycling is quite rare in men’s but the locker-room lends itself very
well to it,” she added.

“These are shapes that are less complex: it’s easier and we can have better
prices that mean it is more accessible for everyone to wear upcycled pieces.”

Meanwhile, familiar names also made a mark this week.

Dior took inspiration from the childhood Normandy home of the label’s
founder, with a flower-filled garden runway and some straw hats and chic
outdoor loungewear among the outfits.

Hermes was also in a relaxed, pastel-infused mood, which designer Veronique
Nichanian told AFP was inspired by “lightness, comfort, fun and colours that
pop.”(AFP)

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