A Transformative Day For Men in Paris

What you see is not always what you get in menswear this season. Take the old-man cardigan sweaters at Junya Watanabe. They’re worn like jackets, come in long versions like coats, while tailored jackets came out in heavy, Nordic-pattern ski knits. Once Watanabe got started switching things around, there was no stopping him. He sent out biker leather duffel coats, hooded shirt jackets—and even pants were two-tone, for those who can’t make up their mind what color to wear.

This multi-purpose, transformative attitude was also working over at Walter Van Beirendonck, who sliced open the inside-sleeve seams so his shirts and jackets could be worn like ponchos. The only question is: who wants to look like a bird in flight? Perhaps the pleasure is in the idea of knowing you could for some special occasion.  By the time he had finished exploring this idea, WVB came out with real ponchos. Some of these were in pink sweatshirt fleece, yet another stylish mixed metaphor. These grew increasingly hairy, free-form, and brightly colored, until they resembled yeti blanket coats, which just shows you what a little transforming can do.

Kris Van Assche was not out for this kind of shock and awe at all, but he did shake up the traditional silhouette. Taking on this season’s tunic dressing, he loosened up the proportions on  everything, letting sweaters billow below the knee and one zip-front cardigan graze the floor.  Dark colors and very simple, almost stark tailoring made propositions like putting part of a turtleneck sweater over a coat look almost wearable.

It looked like Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garçons had curled up with a book of poems by the decadent John Wilmot, the notorious Earl of Rochester—or maybe she just watched Johnny Depp playing him in Libertine, which would make her one of the lucky few who did. Kawakubo tore apart the curtains and chairs of an old boudoir for baggy pants, tail coats and dressing gowns,  all glittering, wrinkled and almost clownish.

After waiting over an hour to start, the electricity and sound over at the Bercy sports palace failed, and it was almost curtains for the Givenchy show.  The fact that this could happen at a place where most of Paris’s big concerts are held is unbelievable, but then France is never short on surprises.  The collection, Riccardo Tisci sent out was another one.  Men in brown shorts and matching tights  wearing big shirt jackets patterned with snarling dogs and hunting plaids, beaver blousons and hunting caps with animal ears and demonic-looking, thick-framed glasses. It was a frightening vision—and for those who want to look mad, bad, and dangerous, know this is a solid option.