Paris’ Tour of Men’s Fashion

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Published July 6, 2009

When menswear presentations concluded in Paris this week, Spring 2010’s agenda was officially set: it’s a season about movement, man’s journeys and destinations. Plantation owners should be able to traverse their property with panache, after all—or in more practical times, cash-squeezed couture buyers might channel cultural supremacy of bygone eras. But Out of Africa it wasn’t:Thinking pragmatically, designers explored the overlap of aesthetics and ergonomics, presenting luxury wear that is rarefied but versatile, allowing those with an active lifestyle to bridge the gap between work and play with spontaneity and ease. We saw the Parisian runways provide optimistic “design solutions” to color fashion’s future a little brighter, more dynamic, and easier to navigate.  Whether a bike messenger (at Vuitton), a shadowy tourist (Rick Owens), or a seasoned globetrotter (naturally, Dries Van Noten), this season’s man is on the move and in need of a streamlined wardrobe-to-go:

 OUT OF AFRICAIf the Everyman of Spring 2010 is a cultural tourist, then Africa—at least in its idealized, pre-adoption-happy version—is that xenomaniac’s dream destination. Riccardo Tisci’s Latin American urban prince has grown up, taken a trip to Morocco, and wears hijabs as doo-rags. Meanwhile, John Galliano’s recurrent Napoleonic theme focused on the little man’s years misspent as a cohair in Egypt. There were headwraps galore, sandblasted denim military coats, harem pants, cuirass simulations, and way too many belts. Luckily, Miharayasuhiro weathered the desert storm with finesse, funneling inspiration from The Last Prince and sub-Saharan Africa. His battle-fatigued collection draped its way to rare verisimilitude, emphasizing a high waist, and multiple layering techniques–all major styling trends this season-to show, not tell. (LEFT: AT MIHARAYASUHIRO)

Dries Van Noten; Comme des Garcons

 

BREAK THE PATTERNThe familiar postcard exoticism of ethnic prints is an escapist staple. At Dries Van Noten, crisp shirts and linen slacks came in ikat prints, sometimes coming to look like snakeprint. Raf Simons branded himself reptilian: his eponymous line’s transparent silk tees and trousers boasted an intricate serpentine motif. Sometimes the true stranger is within: Traditional Western patterns also got a new leases on life.  Comme des Garçons did collegiate prep with gleefully mixed-and-matched glen plaids and stripes. Not to be outdone, Bernhard Willhelm’s collection was ostensibly conjured from a globalist rag shop—everything from cartoon camouflage capes to Aztec patterned booty shorts made a picaresque cameo.

UNSEEMLY  INSEAMS

Innovative, unobtrusive inseams seem designed for a man on the run:   Hence the dropcrotches, clam-diggers, and even dhotis that substituted for traditional trousers. Short shorts are big; floodwater trousers are even bigger. At Tim Hamilton and Dries Van Noten, shortened inseams highlighted immaculate, “high performance” footwear; at Junya Watanabe, a lack of length rendered conspicuous spats even dandier. Is it finally hammertime? Yes, the dropcrotch is a challenge: worn wrong, the style can easily lead to the dreaded “Oompa Loompa” effect, but worn correctly-as at Yves Saint Laurent and Rick Owens—they contrast an otherwise sqeaky clean attenuated silhouette. Plus, they exude comfort; note the “breathability” of the dhotis Comme des Garçons and Julius. (LEFT: AT GIVENCHY)

IN CUFFS

Rolling up your sleeves isn’t just for Don Johnson anymore: For Spring, it’s a style all its own-and a gesture of masculine efficiency. We were hard pressed to find a show that didn’t cuff sleeves and pant legs alike; Miharayasuhiro even featured two sets of cuffs on his billowy Bermuda shorts for good measure. Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, and Dries Van Noten also featured styles where pushed up sleeves and precisely folded pant cuffs looked dapper, not dorky. (LEFT: AT MIHARAYASUHIRO)

 

MAN BAGS (THEY’RE EUROPEAN!)

To the modern nomad, portability is precious. Thanks to highly evolved tech fabrics, “man bags”—a frivolity once immortalized by Jerry Seinfeld—are a lot more sophisticated, aerodynamic, and desirable this time around. At Louis Vuitton, messenger totes and, yes, fannypacks, were bright, clean, and cheery. Rick Owens featured extreme versions—”industrial” (in all its connotations) is the only appropriate description. (LEFT: AT RICK OWENS)