by Ivan Yaskey
Paris Fashion Week, purely at a glance, seems like an asynchronous grab-bag of things hastily brought together: Men in dresses, more ravewear, and plenty of streetwear to go around. Yet, for a cohesive concept, all of it breaks through the banality restricting menswear for so long: Suiting only takes you so far, before it feels like a boundary limiting your creativity. So, with the Spring/Summer 2019 presentations wrapped up, we recap all of the highlights:
1. Femininity in Many Forms
A man in a dress is the cheapest and most basic form of androgyny. And, this past Paris Fashion Week saw plenty of that, from corsets and heels to dress-based suits.
John Galliano’s take on Maison Margiela went in the most obvious direction. Longer, dress-like shirts and coats, in silk, satin, and sheer materials, dotted the runway, and if Galliano kept it simple, that would be it – kind like Art School back at London. Rather, dress construction permeated the presentation in more subtle forms: Particularly, cutting clothing on the bias, a technique Galliano has used throughout his women’s collections for Givenchy and Dior. That flowing form emerged and contrasted directly with the ultra-slim vinyl pants sported by many of the models.
Kim Jones’ first Dior Homme presentation opted for a similar approach. Going back into the brand’s women’s archives, Jones pulled out multiple prints, but the result, here, turned out to be more mundane: small- to medium-sized florals splashed across button-downs and suit jackets, with organza and tulle emphasizing the feminine-leaning direction.
Outside of these two, Comme Des Garçons introduced the concept of suiting with ruching, and Kenzo’s blended presentation switched things around: Suits in the women’s line, and men’s jackets and pants based on long, elegant gowns. Throughout, pink made a steady appearance, proving that, by next year, anything from blush to bubblegum is fair game.
2. Streetwear Bleeds into High Fashion
Virgil Abloh’s debut for Louis Vuitton ultimately wins the fusion concept. Lots of Off-White’s silhouettes are still there, but Abloh extended them through a literal rainbow of shades and blended them with traditional menswear tailoring.
But, Abloh’s not the only standout. Lanvin’s “beyond streetwear” concept looked, on the surface, like a mishmash of oversized shirts, suiting, and long jackets all thrown together. But, beyond that impression, designer Lucas Ossendrijver emphasized practical elements, combining utility concepts with reversible, multi-functional designs. Ultimately, it delivered what gorpcore’s been trying to be, without seeming forced.
Almost a year ago, belted silhouettes seemed like the next big thing. Just tie a tunic-style top for structure, and pair with more spacious pants. During that brief ‘70s revival, it seemed to have its moment, but not everyone wants to look like a pop star from the disco era.
Designers, rather, haven’t dropped it, instead reworking it into the waistcoat. What’s different this time around? For one, no one’s attempting to redefine how we wear shirts. Secondly, the silhouette simply works better as structured outerwear. Alexander McQueen’s thinner, longer coats, for instance, gave new meaning to the phrase “transitional dressing”: light enough for spring, structured enough to seem masculine, yet feminine with the shaped waist.
4. Large-Scale, Retro-Casual Tailoring
Ever since Dior Homme unveiled its HarDior concept over a year ago, New Wave-influenced suiting has made a return. Or, more specifically, suiting as a form of casual expression, rather than simply dress-up or office garb, gave us something right out of a music video by Duran Duran, Gary Numan, or The Cars.
Within that template, Raf Simons pulled all those candy-coated shades from the “Rio” music video, and simply exaggerated everything. Tailoring, here, is a loose idea: Structuring and double-breasted shaped all remain, this time with longer lengths, wider, sloped shoulders, and a boxy cut. The shapes nearly envelope the wearer, toeing the line between a blazer and opera coat. And, consistent with the evening’s theme, duchesse satin – a material more common in couture womenswear – gave the exaggeratedly ordinary a shimmering, almost elegant quality.
From a more mundane perspective, Paul Smith blurred the line between casual and overtly formal, playing wider, baggier pants off boxy, double-breasted blazers. The fit seems reminiscent of a zoot suit, deconstructed for more space, yet the design tosses in ‘80s-era pastel shades and plaid prints.
5. Serious Ravewear
As the bastion of rave-influenced menswear, London Fashion Week’s last few runs have bubbled with neon and bucket hats, considered the club flier a legitimate graphic, and found solace in fishnets and metallic materials. And, considering the city’s multi-faceted role in dance music history, much of it makes sense. However, the styles we’ve seen from Topman and Liam Hodges appear to have spilled across to Paris.
If retro tackiness could be pushed to an absurd degree, you’d end up with Amiri’s presentation: rainbow shades, hot pink, checkerboard patterns, and animal prints a little too reminiscent of Zubaz pants.
But, if Amiri had all the subtlety of a Lisa Frank illustration, Valentino added a bit of restraint. All-over prints had the feeling of refined hysteria, while models sporting bucket hats gave off clear Madchester vibes.
However, rave fashion doesn’t always boil down to neon and psychedelic prints. For those old enough to remember the tail end of the ‘90s, it became associated with obnoxiously large JNCO jeans and strappy bondage pants. Highlighting these less-memorable silhouettes, Rick Owens’ Burning Man-inspired collection started from here, before partially tearing everything apart with asymmetrical rips and cutouts.