Paris Has Hermits, Hippies, Geeks and Cool Dudes

Published January 23, 2012

 

The Paris menswear collections are split between dressed-up and subdued, with some delving into technicolor pattern and haute posing, while others purify shapes in a graphic, neutral palette.   It doesn’t get much cooler than Rick Owens. Punching through all that brooding he’s known for, Owens wiped the slate clean with simple high-waist trousers and scarf-neck shirts. Gymnastic tank tops under filmy turtlenecks bring out the muscles. Cool grey suede blousons are covered with a grid of narrow black bands and stiff black high-shine leather makes a clean, mean coat.   The silhouette is in focus at Louis Vuitton, too. Kim Jones called his collection “A Tale of Two Cities,” an homage to Dickens, Paris and Tokyo. There’s also a nod to Antonio Lopez’s haute ’80s fashion illustrations. Jones’s Vuitton man isn’t stuck behind a desk, and it shows in the soft way he treats tailoring accessorized with feather lapel pins and crossover cardigan sweaters peaking out from underneath. The coat of choice is in thick LV blanket wool and the surprises included kimono tunics over matching pants, crunchy croc blousons and polar expedition parkas.   Adam Kimmel selects a new realm of Americana to plunge into each season, and this time it’s science geeks, the men who serve the U.S. in the development of atom bombs, spacecraft and top-secret research at Area 51. Beefy, brainy types—the street casting for this was frighteningly on the mark—sported tight, muddy-colored suits and padded blousons, yellow-tinged reflector specs, tailored knitwear and chunky looking trench coats belted unattractively high. Kimmel’s take on nerdly fustiness was so authentically creepy, the clothes elicit a kind of love/hate relationship.   Ami’s Alexandre Mattiussi is also into reality, but his is about taking off for the weekend in Grandpa’s hand-me-downs and letting the beard grow. This is all very classic, but Mattiussi’s Parisian base never hits prep square on. Imagine a foreign exchange student who attended Harvard and ended up working in New York. This is his weekend wardrobe. Plaids and florals mix it up in tailoring and jeans worn with argyle pattern sweaters with huge cable-knit scarves wrapped around the shoulders, and oxford high-tops pair with bright socks.   Dries Van Noten loves pattern, and so hippie chic is a natural habitat for him. This season, he crossed the border into Holland to incorporate the spacey rainbow typography of Letman and Gijs Frieling’s primitive, psychedelic scene painting for tailoring and jeans in rainbow colors which he combines with graphic black and white. His idea of late-’60s chic brought in this season’s high band collars and turtlenecks in perfect white, paired with sharp tailored pea jackets and tunic sweaters in thick mesh.   It’s only a guess, but Yohji Yamamoto who, it has just been announced, will head the jury at this year’s Hyerès fashion and photography festival in April, took an inspirational trip to Seepy Hollow. The land of dreams feeling came through in coats that wrap around like giant prayer shawls, hermit hats, satin pajama suits and vivid felt blanket jackets seemingly stitched together by loving hands at home.   Jean Paul Gaultier likes bad boys. Well, not bad really, but decidedly on the wild side. Over the years, he keeps coming back to romantically shady characters for more. This collection looked like JPG had researched rough trade throughout history, from ’50s urban toughs in gritty brick prints for blousons and jeans, to cartoon freaks in dodgy “Clockwork Orange” stripes and a modern Attila the Hun in a savage fleece anorak. There were also a few kilts in the mix, notably with pants and a jacket to form a genderless three-piece suit.   Nicola Formichetti and menswear designer Romain Kremer continue to push the revamped Thierry Mugler onto a digital dance floor. The show prep was broadcast over the Internet a week before the big event. But how about the actual clothes? Well, they’re calling it “cocktail versus casual,” and despite a rather contrived opener featuring boys with cameras strapped to their torsos to film themselves and each other in real time, the silk tie patterns in matching blousons and jeans looked quite cool. Unfortunately, there were a few Twilight Zone moments, too. The demi-cape jackets, a sort of sci-fi disco Sherlock Holmes pastiche featuring vinyl accents, should stay in the fashion closet.

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