After the inspired collections of Milan, Paris men's fashion week didn't disappoint. Well, some did but for the most part there was a genuine thread between the brands to create clothes for men that are both interesting and functional.
I don't put much faith in the whole "just putting it out to the universe thing". For starters, it seems to only work for influencers followed by the tag #spons or #ad when the fruits of their request inevitably appear on their Instafeed.
But it seems that just this once it may have happened as the Paris menswear runways pick up where Milan left off, furthering a better-dressed man in 2020.
Where the Italians made tailoring their cornerstone, Paris men's fashion week instead let creativity run wild. Not all of it worked. At Dries Van Noten, it felt like the brand was capitulating to the luxury grunge trend set in place by Gucci 12 months ago rather than pushing its own identity. And the high-waisted pants trend spotted on several collections is definitely not beer belly friendly.
And while Rick Owens might be able to get away with glam rock New York Dolls-style tights and platform boots (it's not for everyone but if you just let yourself go with the flow it's a pretty fun ride), at Swedish brand Acne Studios the lack of theatrics made it all look just a bit ridiculous.
Back to earth
Where Milan made big announcements concerning environmental impact with upcycling (Armani) and reusing existing fabrics (Zegna), Paris' planetary inspiration came in a much more direct sense: colour palettes that heavy with neutral and brown tones and clobber designed a bloke who might find himself walking a London high street one day and strolling down a Marrakesh market the next.
At Hermès, the spectrum sent down the runway had all the organic richness of mulch with descriptions such as "backlit peat, clay, ebony, sepia, and hazelnut". Shirts with mock-kerchiefs for collars, reworked cargo trousers and industrial-style booting gave the elegant collection some adventurous grit.
Jacquemus similarly stayed in the neutral zone as far as colours were concerned, with grey, greige and beige linen the biggest players. While intended to be an autumn/winter range, the French designer has deliberately kept the collection trans-seasonal – in other words, these are the kind of clothes Aussies can get away with in our version of sunny 23 degree day winters.
Town and country
Cowboys and country are also making their mark on menswear. Either tapping into image set by musicians such as Lil Nas and Orvell Peck or purely by coincidence (I doubt it), Givenchy joined Italian label Etro in the wild west of menswear. Stetson hats were tilted low and heavy-duty boots made their way into the collection. At Rick Owens, the same boot was given a literal boost with the addition of a heel.
While it probably won't work for your average sales office, cowboy boots and hats styled with suits did make for a refreshing mash-up of themes.
Junya Watanabe also made clothes designed for a life outdoors, although his direction felt more like a professor gone fishing. For denim aficionados, it's hard to go past Watanabe's continually creative use of the fabric – this staple in every man's wardrobe that doesn't need to be basic.
Style but make it art
The collections from Kim Jones at Dior and Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton have become some of the most anticipated events on the fashion calendar. The two creative powerhouses have built a reputation (and subsequent cult followings) for their visionary perspective on men's fashion.
Jones stated he was inspired by the life of infamous British stylist Judy Blame, an icon of London's punk and club scenes in the '80s and '90s. Embellished scarves, berets, opera gloves and plenty of silk were straight out of the New Romantic handbook of menswear. For those who grew up listening to David Bowie, Roxy Music and Adam and the Ants, this one's for you.
At Vuitton, Abloh was also looking back but this was a menswear more about personal introspection than a grand era in time. After taking some R&R last year, this collection came with a renewed vigour from the designer who clearly spent his downtime well.
Striking a balance between work and play (something the designer himself struggled with) saw the first official Abloh-for-Vuitton suits sent down the runway. Blue-sky prints and ombré effects provided the play element to the working uniform. The all-business briefcase was also replaced with a variety of variations on the Louis Vuitton luggage – miniature suitcases; curved camera bags and neon pink weekenders.
Take a look at the gallery up top to see some of the best looks from the Paris menswear shows.