To Show or Not to Show

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Published June 27, 2011

Acne staged a classic runway show in the cloisters of Paris’s elitist Lycée Henri-IV. Jonny Johansson called it “functionalism and Swedish purity with a 1970s aesthetic,” and it did look a bit like a male flight attendant on an extended weekend in Palm Springs. There were some nice details here, like a classic jean jacket with a blue suede collar, new slim shorts paired with sweaters, and a silky sweater and slacks in an offbeat ’70s combo of putty and coral.
 
Jean-Paul Gaultier went the opposite way. That is, he skipped the show, or rather he made a show out of not having one. Models changed on a scaffold in JPG’s massive space, and the audience was left to grab a seat where they could alongside buyers filling out order forms. Among the models was Andrej Pejic, Gaultier’s favorite androgynous boy, and I can confirm that seeing him up close in JPG’s Paris street-sign print denim is as impressive as seeing him in a ball gown. Gaultier went OTT with dirty Hawaiian prints covering blousons, jeans and shirts for a total look, and then he did the same thing with a trad green and blue plaid, matching cardigan to topcoat. He even matched shorts and socks.

Dries Van Noten sent out a graphic collection in classic blue/black combinations and bold silky Orange, white and blue stripes. Everything got the bold treatment. Shirts flashed giant V-insert color blocking and the banded seams usually found inside jackets showed on the outside like a diagram. One strong look here was the net mesh tunic in dark vertical stripes—a very cool, modern way to flash the graphics.

Yohji Yamamoto is aware that skirts for men are a hot style option this season. Rick Owens showed nothing but; Riccardo Tisci came on strong at Givenchy with the mini kilt in white covered with birds of paradise (did I just write that?); and Rei Kawakubo has been churning them out at Comme des Garçons for years. And we all know now what good legs Marc Jacobs, has because he’s been wearing them constantly for over a year. But being Yohji, he’s not going to do just any old man skirt. Instead Yamamoto offered men a real challenge: voluminous pleated skirts in bold patterns over pants. The look is colorful, but it’s not easy to wear. There’s a lot of bulk involved, and if you’re not rail-thin, this is not your look. Were the skirts inspired by some ancient form of samurai battle dress? Perhaps. There were no show notes, and I didn’t go backstage to ask Yamamoto to tell me why he did it. But I promise to ask him about and get back to you with the goods next season.