Retuning Menswear in Paris

June 30, 2016 BY WATM STAFF


Off-White, SS17 (Love Magazine)

Fashion tribes and a wanderlust attitude dominated Paris but does menswear need a reset?


Credits (L-R): Louis Vuitton, SS17 (Vogue); Kolor, SS17 (Vogue ); Givenchy, SS17 (Vogue); Balmain, SS17 (10 Magazine)

Travel is unquestionably fashion’s overriding fascination for menswear next spring, with its multiculturalism somewhat contradicting Britain’s current demise into isolation due to its Brexit result that came halfway through the Paris schedule. Last week in Milan, Prada and Gucci took the notion of travel to new realms with their future visions and ideologies grounded with what will be the biggest message for this trend at retail: functional, pragmatic attire for the modern man, with the integration of hybrid styles. In Paris, there were the more obvious connotations of multicultural fusions at Kolor with its injection of Asian and Indian references breathing life into the brand’s louche tailoring while Givenchy shifted the message once again back to a utility-informed collection for urban mobility. Kim Jones’ twist on travel at Louis Vuitton– the ultimate wanderer himself – in fact offered the most progressive riff on the theme for a brand so deeply associated with its voyager routes. There was a beauty in the amalgamation of contradictions that resonated here - from gritty, British working-class punks to the visceral and primitive exoticism of Africa’s wildlife.


Credits (L-R): Dior Homme, SS17 (Vogue); Sacai, SS17 (Vogue); Ann Demeulemeester, SS17 (10 Magazine); Kenzo, SS17 (10 Magazine)

And Jones’ nod to British sub-cultures and a feeling of unease was not alone, as designers reaffirmed fashions current fixation with tribes that will indisputably progress as another core message next season – spring/summer 2017 tracking the evolution of punk as well as a whole throng of 90s gangs, for example. Dior’s take on 80s punk and New Wave took us back to a fairground of sub-cultures, while Sacai offered a subverted take on Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, and Kenzo revived New York club-kid cliques circa 1990. There is no surprise the reformation of tribes is happening in the current fashion landscape with all the political uncertainty, but it’s the economic uncertainty that takes the tribe mentality into the realms of oversaturation with a constant deluge of media from brands urging their customers to belong (read: ‘buy product’) - Balmain, we’re looking at you! This could perhaps pose a question of what is truly ‘creative’ within the current fashion space. Maybe it’s time for menswear to hit the reset button?


Credits (L-R): Issey Miyake, SS17 (Vogue); Rick Owens, SS17 (Vogue); Balenciaga, SS17 (Vogue); Acne, SS17 (Vogue)

It could be said that Issey Miyake was not too far from that exact sentiment with a collection that referenced “a journey from a white page”. But let’s go right back to the beginning of the week: cue Gvasalia’s first foray into menswear for Balenciaga that opened Paris. This was a collection that stripped back fashion’s obsession with excess, right down to its clean-lined, architectural silhouettes that were either oversized or cinched the body with an almost austere restraint, centered on the suit. This was a true focus on product; clarity offered through silhouette, fabric and cut. Gvasalia’s obsession with the oversized has equally had its impact on menswear the season, so established now at Vetements. But with his handwriting now underpinning a more tailored offer at Balenciaga one cannot help but feel this was the most poignant movement for menswear to come from Paris, reaffirming a new silhouette. Owen’s technical take on fluidity and volume further backed the message with understated one-colour looks - another master’s take on product with a singular vision - not to mention Acne’s shift back towards an unfussy outerwear-focused offer. There is undeniably a small wave of purity emerging, which could in turn signify a reset for the future menswear landscape.

-- Katie Sturch