Paris Men's Fashion Week: Confidence is Back

Raf Simons s/s '11

Raf Simons s/s '11

Paris Men’s Fashion Week attendees always have a little more time between shows to strut their all-black best—from the catwalks to the cafés—even on the most balmy summer days. For the spring/summer ’11 shows, the streets were indeed alive with these chic trotters, all of whom seemed to mirror the sense of confidence that was also seen on the runways.

Viktor & Rolf have been consistent with their menswear collections, producing a storyboard of quirky pieces that offer quite a trip through the Dutch duo’s looking glass view of the world. With music provided by the suited and booted British singer La Roux—past performers have also included fellow redheads Tori Amos and Tilda Swinton—a series of slim line suiting, tie-waisted knits and uncuffed pants made their way down the runway. Colors remained muted in tones of burnt desert sand, camel, taupe and a pop appearance of turquoise, which showed up on shoelaces and pointed winkle pickers.

Acne s/s '11, Hermes s/s '11, Balenciaga s/s '11

Left to right: Acne s/s '11, Hermes s/s '11, Balenciaga s/s '11

Hermès’ suiting and knitwear used a similar color palette as V&R, but imbued the open-neck shirting and loose tailoring a safari-meets-Miami golfer look with plaid as the only featured print. Meanwhile, Swedish brand Acne’s first ever men’s show in Paris stayed true to its aesthetic, but featured a conglomeration of ideas better suited for in-store then on show. Acne knows its customer and creates beautiful separates but as a collection it failed to tell a tale.

Louis Vuitton continued its masterful series of must-have pieces for the luxe traveller. A ream of digital references made for a collection of mesh shirts, silk shirting, woolen pantaloons and oversized-prints on sheer fabrics this season. The washed leather and monogrammed denim that worked its way over the shoulders and onto the handles of premium luggage was LV style with ultimate edge. Suiting, on the other hand, was cut close to the body but remained full of the movement that only a true gentleman’s stride can bring to life.

Lanvin s/s '11, Dior Homme s/s '11, Rick Owens s/s '11

Left to right: Lanvin s/s '11, Dior Homme s/s '11, Rick Owens s/s '11

Hedi Slimane may have left the building, but Dior Homme house designer Kris Van Assche has taken the Slimane silhouette and pumped it up ten-fold by using a monochrome palette to explosive effect. Kaftan tops, billowing trousers that draped over workboots and deep-V teamed with round collar necks built a fluid collection using micro-fabrics to their utmost effectiveness.

Balenciaga stayed on the safe side by playing the performance card with wearable pieces fit for the athletic male. Thom Browne, too, was said to have presented his most commercial collection yet—think a series of box cut two-button suit jackets and shorts in an array of pinstripes, candy stripes and a mix of prints. Rick Owens, by contrast, moved away from safe with zip-up leather breast hugging coats and shirts worked alongside draped mesh tees and rubberised leather footwear. The mainly monochrome collection featured hooded jackets with an almost sci-fi finish and utility inspired cropped trousers.

Dries Van Noten s/s '11

Dries Van Noten s/s '11

Dries Van Noten worked with a mods and ska aesthetic. Cutting the quintessential British suit is something only Sir Paul Smith can do in contemporary fashion, yet DVN delved into England’s past for a collection of utility shorts, screech bleached denims and paint-splattered button down shirts. Models wore their hair slicked down on their heads and polished within an inch of their lives. Suiting was double breasted with the buttons sitting high on the chest, a feature that was prominent in several Milan shows as well, while plenty of calf-length boots kicked down the runway. Speaking of suits, Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy gave them a ferocious edge with leopard texture and bold prints.

Lanvin continued with the double-breasted vibe of box cut jackets in varying lengths, short micro-woolen pants and paneled suit jackets and cycling shorts. Mesh shirts and sandals with socks were also a big player in this predominantly black collection, which focused on a mix of textures and super treated fibers. Raf Simons produced one of the most talked about collections this season. Using primary colors, ’80s graphic prints and a series of slim cut shorts and oversized trousers, he successfully mixed volume with fine details. The silhouette may change, but the man knows how to mix contemporary trends into traditional tailoring.

Ann Demeulemeester s/s '11

Ann Demeulemeester s/s '11

Ann Demeulemeester used white in a most clinical way, featuring a mix of buckled shirts against a slightly restricted silhouette of waisted belting and to-the-knee rubber boots. A silver service waiter would have been right at home with some of the suit jackets. And yet, this Belgian punk designer managed to build on constructed outerwear and flat front pants in black to form a collection of contemporary clothing for the lover of powerfully subtle embelishments.

Waisted belting (very YSL), zip-down fronts (Balanciaga) and shorts of every nature (even cycle pants at Lanvin) made for a season of options and wearabilty this s/s ’11. If moving from the office to an all-night party is on the agenda, then a man has several high-end options to choose from—even when temperatures reach scorching highs.

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