In the gradually evolving menswear market there is space for conflicting messages as new directions slowly evolve. Simon’s collection reinforced his position as the reigning king of dark modernism: strengths of the collection included slim white shirts, high-necked parkas with striking double-zipped hoods, and authoritatively large black coats, one anchored by folding the lapel through a slit in the front. Dries Van Noten also fell for large coats, but the bigger news was his embrace of animal prints: they appeared on shiny shirts, suiting, and a leopard-print, rabbit fur coat. Like shearling, fur cropped up systematically as trim or lining for roomy, belted coats at Yves Saint Laurent; no one used it better than Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, who mixed chinchilla with nylon to produce totally desirable and modern sportswear that came topped with mink-trimmed hats. Vuitton’s stellar showing illustrated how a luxury luggage house can develop a men’s line that strikes a totally contemporary chord. This was a quality that Hermès — though consistently perfect in its mix of cashmere cardigans and buttery lambskin jackets — lacked, although house designer Véronique Nichanian was on the money with Op Art-style printed shirts and knits. Those graphic patterns have provided most collections with a colorful pulse, from Givenchy to Véronique Branquinho to Agnès B. and in the blown-up pied-de-poule patterns that have become a house signature at Dormeuil under the direction of Pierre-Henri Mattout. Ozwald Boateng at Givenchy managed to condense his vision for the house into a modern, young style that meant his slim-fitting, hooded parka-style coats in dark green wool and sleek trenches (ubiquitous in Paris) had an immediate desirability factor. Most everyone did a version of the shawl-collared cardigan jacket/coat; pea coats were another item of outerwear that took a major role, especially when they were rethought in segmented fabric fusions like at Gieves or at Number (N)ine, where leather entered the mix.
Black was the non-color of the season, but deep burgundy and dark purple are subtle enough to enter most wardrobes. They were everywhere, so they undoubtedly will. Sometimes, it’s the little things that count. At Issey Miyake and Rykiel Homme the little things included ankle zips; at Yohji Yamamoto, Number (N)ine, and Ann Demeulemeester there were slouchy pockets; at Branquinho, Smalto, and Gieves it was seaming details around the shoulders. The onslaught of details continued with overlaid pockets at Paul Smith; floppy bows brushed shirt collars at Smith, Dior Homme, Ungaro, and especially in Lanvin’s thoughtful collection. Though this is Paris, the world of haute couture rarely meets that of men’s fashion. This season, the two realms held a summit at Ungaro, where José Lévy worked floral jet beading or tiger stripes in black rocailles on evening jackets.
The other exponent of couture know-how was Hedi Slimane, whose triumphant showing closed the Paris season. Those druggy-looking groupies were banished from the runway and a parade of beautifully coiffed (albeit early teenage) models heralded a new mood that relished in the precise placement of seaming on extremely fitted jackets above pooling pants. Slimane’s coats were reed-thin — the way he likes them — but more exquisitely made than ever before, including cutaways in a further nod to the mix of military and classical stylings that came together in pants decorated with triple rows of regimental taping. Though the bead-sprinkled, honeycomb-smocked jacket and the silk kimono with pin-tucked sleeve heads will reach a limited audience, Slimane’s tour de force was an utterly convincing take on the fusion of traditional and contemporary tastes — producing an intoxicating vision of masculinity that will make the cash registers ring.
Raf Simons a/w ’06-’07
Dries Van Noten a/w ’06-’07
Yves Saint Laurent a/w ’06-’07
Veronique Branquinho a/w ’06-’07
Hermès a/w ’06-’07
Agnès B. a/w ’06-’07
Givenchy a/w ’06-’07
Number (N)ine a/w ’06-’07
Paul Smith a/w ’06-’07