The recent Paris Men’s Fashion Week proved, once again, that black will always be new. As the autumn/winter ’11 collections showed us, the deepest darkest of hues is the source of limitless inspiration when set against bursts of color, worked into textured outerwear or cut into the body with beautiful tailoring.
Look first to Ann Demeulemeester and her monochrome palette with dense luxe fabrics. The designer, who practically reinvented the term “deconstruction,” reworked her signature style from past collections with horizontal cuts that left garments swaying open against the body. A layering of leggings, leather pants and loose knits made for an array of poetically inspired punk models adorned with horsehair extensions.
Dries Van Noten created an entire collection seemingly around David Bowie during his Thin White Duke phase with fur jackets, white tailored trousers, contrasting textures on lapels and lush velveteen suiting in rich reds. It was enough to send you screaming into the nearest vintage store. Crossed with modernzied grandpa jackets and oversized suiting, black panels on white trousers, and the result is a contemporary Bowie wardrobe for today’s dandy.
Rick Owens’ characteristically unique show featured a black leather skirt worn over pants, sleeveless tunic dresses, open zipped boots and round neck puffer collars. The show notes stated the many historical influences Owens used to build this wardrobe—from Egyptian slaves to ceremonial religious garments. The odd toga could have been thrown in too, but then again, the collection was just Owens with a little more black. Elsewhere, Balenciaga mixed black trousers in varying fabrications to convey Parisian chic with tailored yet sporty jackets, at Givenchy, black shorts were worn over leggings, but looked tough with plaid shirts, and padded, angular coats. Thom Browne’s definition of American took on a grand meaning with dramatic, bell sleeved jackets and long floor length coats.
Henrik Vibskov’s show playfully featured parachutes, hot air balloons and aviator goggles, and the collection of designs was equally fun. With easy to wear and colorful pieces that work both on and off a catwalk, Vibskov succeeded with exposed button through trousers, printed leggings (quite a big trend this season), all-in-one knits and drop crotch trousers.
Outerwear was everywhere in a big way, mixed with dusty grey boots and gloves, heavy tie up scarves, quilted bags, vests and bombers. Louis Vuitton’s belted jacket was a key item, and came in every shape and size you can imagine. YSL dressed the body-shy bloke with a collection of collectibles. Stefano Pilati used high button jackets to emphasize a man’s chest, hook and eye closures to give a more roomy appearance in suiting and even boosted footwear for a little extra height. Close button-up, double breasted jackets and oversized outerwear capped the collection off with a fine ensemble of textured tailoring that could make any man’s silhouette swoon.
Lanvin seemed eager to introduce elegance to the young this season, and what better man to do so than Lucas Ossendrijver? Using magnetized buttons as closures and seams slightly cut on the bias, the collection was a meeting of urban and utilitarian designs with a Lanvin tweak. Tailoring was defined by the common sportswear found on the streets. Loose, flowing suiting, with the odd puffer jacket thrown over the top. Leggings and belted jackets also made an appearance on the Lanvin runway, as did the Amish style hats that were such a hit this season.
Former Hedi Slimane assistant Kris Van Assche also took to Amish headgear for Dior Homme, teaming the look with wide leg pantaloons, collarless shirts and double facing coats. With a color palette of browns, grays and blacks, the entire collection was made for any style of preacher’s son. Giving the younger man a reason to “get tailored,” Van Assche’s suits are loose but streamlined, angular and cut close to the body, while still generous in fit. Using zippers as closures and almost unrecognizable seamwork, his attention to detail in the construction process is second to none this season.
Raf Simons went back to his old style that we all know and love with boxed jacket suiting, sueded box pockets and simple yet oh-so-striking silhouettes on outerwear in bright exciting colors. The man has reinvented the duffle coat too with toggles found down the back of the jacket. This collection marks the end of Simons’ relationship with his Italian partners and the beginning of a new era of Raf. Bravo.