Paris Menswear: Hardcore, Floral, Prom Night

A collection of ferocious tunics from Rick Owens and lush, hothouse florals by Dries Van Noten illustrated two extremes in contemporary menswear on the second day of the Paris collections.

Owens is a punk at heart, and his “Vicious” scoop-neck, three-quarter-sleeve jackets and slim tunics, in leather slashed with zips and inset with geometric flesh-bearing mesh, are for pretty boys vying for hardcore status. Owens shows these with bare legs and fantastic abstract sneakers, with leather fringe and oversized punch holes thrown in here and there. And because his shows are usually more than clothes, for this one he brought in his latest discovery, Estonian band Winny Puhh, a screaming group of weirdos who make themselves up like werewolves and hang upside down from spinning disks for their performances.

Dries is dark, too, but in a more poetic, melancholy way. He’s got an impeccable system, featuring perfectly proportioned menswear covered in a mind-boggling collection of patterns—the clothes are very interesting, but not difficult. This season, he’s into dense fantasy florals. Van Noten found his print bouquets in the fashion archives of Paris’s Les Arts Decoratifs, where he’s been spending time recently preparing a show for the museum next February. He chose his favorites from past centuries and reproduced them on light cottons and satins, in cut velvet, and on canvas and technical fabrics, which he then worked in all over and placed patterns, or spliced together patchwork style.

Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing thought of dancers who mix their rehearsal gear and sailor style for a night out. Along the way, he discovered Serge Gainsbourg’s nonchalant way with tailoring and penchant for espadrilles and dance slip-ons. The collection is for party boys for whom no dress codes apply, with anchor and lion’s head tattoo crests patched large on soft blazers, slouchy balloon pants, and a great pair of overalls that look like vintage Backstreet Boys gear.

The inner workings of clothes—or what a pair of pants looks like with its lining and pockets worn inside out—got Jean Paul Gaultier’s imagination up and running. After that, he went into pattern-blocking, splicing pants in half with a floral top to join the shirt, or enclosing pattern within a cube in the middle of a classic suit like a wearable work of art.

After last season’s Himalayan trek and the “Garden of Hell” pajama suits, Louis Vuitton played it classic in a collection of checks, from mini to maxi, for shirts, sweaters, and tailoring. LV’s Men’s Studio Director Kim Jones envisioned these plaids and windowpane mixtures on a U.S. road trip, adding in scout-style parkas covered with badges and school pennants for a boyish touch. Even the tuxedos looked like prom night, with details like a hologram LV silk brocade and patchwork crocodile lace-ups moving the school idea into the billionaire boys’ club class.

For more from the Paris menswear Spring/Summer 2014 collections, click here.