Rick Owens, Louis Vuitton, Juun.J: Men’s Legs Go Mainstream

Think of it like slipping into an ice-cold pool, one millimeter at a time, until the temperature feels almost normal. That’s the way men have eased their way into skirts over the past decade. One surprising thing about the feminine elements that showed up en masse at the Paris menswear shows today is that nobody laughed. It has to be said a lot of the men in the audience are already wearing some version of a clingy, layered tunic over cigarette jeans with biker boots, perfecto jacket and maybe a trilby.  The tunic works like a dress, and the hat says I’m sartorial, which confers on men an androgynous cool.

Rick Owens [Look 24, pictured at left] is really the mastermind of this feminization of a man’s wardrobe, which he began by making sweaters droop and taking all the rigid tailoring out of jackets and coats to let them hang loose, when he began showing his menswear in Paris in 2003. Owens’ graphic collection for fall, mostly in different shades of black on black, included wraparound skirts with turtlenecks and matching coat and dress ensembles.  Or, if you prefer, you could call those dresses tunics.

Korea’s number-one menswear export, Juun.J, is similarly open to the womanly in us all. For his “Overlay” collection, pants are cut extra wide and deeply pleated, like full skirts worn with cinched waist jackets. The coats are elliptical, with an extra jacket layer that can be worn hanging down  like a skirt, or held demurely over the arm. Juun’s finale, a lineup of guys in teddy-bear fur anoraks, looked like a chorus line.

Which brings us to Louis Vuitton—where you wouldn’t really expect skirts, even though Marc Jacobs is still running around in a kilt. Juggling plain and simple Amish style with David Lynch overtones (slightly sinister tailoring from the 1950s), Paul Helbers said he was thinking of how a boy grows into adulthood and borrows things from both his parents’ wardrobes. And so coats were sashed with silk and velvet insets at the waist, and the new bag is a shiny alligator clutch with a big brass LV trunk lock.