Whether you spotted Courtney Love’s Uber being attacked by striking French taxi drivers, or heard stories of Nile Rodgers’ epic soundtrack for the Louis Vuitton show, Paris Fashion Week was in no way a disappointment for the headlines. But at the shows, a spectacular array of ideas, clothes and moods was presented, proving – even in the face of a resurgent Milan and a high-flying London – that Paris remains the global capital of menswear.
So let’s kick off by looking at what is always one of the hottest tickets in town: Louis Vuitton. Under Kim Jones’ direction, the luxury house has not only regained considerable menswear relevance, but become something of a trendsetter.
For SS16, Jones mixed Japanese florals, luxury silk blousons and sharp geometrics derived from a Masai blanket that he had from childhood, while referencing existing trends (stripes, dusky pinks, florals, technical fabrics) without losing the sense of personality that makes him such a standout designer.
Meanwhile, Raf Simons was playing with the concepts of androgyny and streetwear, using hoodies and plaid scarves to obscure models’ faces while showing a wide variety of sharply tailored and street-inspired looks.
Textured and patterned coats were layered over shorts suits with subtle volume, while another push for wider-leg trousers had this writer questioning why the trend hasn’t caught the imagination of the public yet after so many seasons of skinny jeans.
A few newer talents deserve to be top billing alongside Jones and Simons. Sacai, the Japanese brand from accomplished (and former Comme des Garçons) designer Chitose Abe, has truly become a favourite with the fashion set in recent years.
For SS16, Abe proposed layering of many different lengths and textures – including denim and plaids with quilted overcoats and striped detailing – resulting in a Japanese take on the Dries Van Noten-esque romantic urban nomad.
Complete and extremely modern, Sacai’s showcase was a delight to watch and did what any great collection should do: inspired the viewer to experiment with their style and try something new.
Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy is also rapidly becoming one to watch, thanks to his skater-inspired mix of sportswear, slogan tees and denim.
This season, his influences were more 1980s track day, complete with fluoro accents. It was unlike anything else shown on the runways – and this is, of course, a good thing.
Back in the world of more predictable influences, military and safari were huge trends, particularly at Balmain and Kenzo, who refashioned their established codes to show a mix of practical, sandy colours and French foreign legion-esque whites.
Riccardo Tisci has helped make Givenchy one of the must-watch shows at Paris, and this season blended the haute couture offering with menswear in an unusual move that ensured the brand was always in the headlines (thanks in no small part to Naomi Campbell walking the runway in thigh-high boots, a glittery blazer, and not much else).
The menswear side of the collection was Tisci’s usual mix of streetwear-inspired shapes, with highlights coming in the form of oversize tunic T-shirts complete with Jesus prints and a wide range of denim pieces, designed to tease the brand’s first foray into jeanswear later this year.
Saint Laurent also showed denim, this time ripped at the knees, in a collection that was very nu-rave Shoreditch, interspersed with pretty floral dresses and plaid shirts which have become the house’s new staples.
It’s not very exciting or challenging, but will sell. Slimane’s greatest triumph is the mass-marketisation of luxury, not just to sell perfume, but actual clothes too.
Labels like A.P.C., Ami, Officine Generale and Sandro also showed collections that stuck true to their house’s core values: classic and wearable pieces with subtle nods to the trends that keep them in favour with high-powered fashion editors and buyers.
However, it was the brands that blended the creativity, trends and ideas that came out on top in Paris this season. 3.1 Philip Lim’s collection referenced all the major trends: Japanese florals, sandy colours, technical fabrics/shapes and bomber jackets, with most of the collection being shown with denim.
Elsewhere, Dries Van Noten offered his spin on these same trends, rendering them in the brand’s trademark mix of luxury fabrics with tactile textures and luscious silks.
But it was Valentino that, in this writer’s mind, did it best. Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli somehow foresaw all of the key trends and mixed them with pale blue 501-esque jeans with a light distressed effect.
A well balanced mix of ideas and commercialism has always been the duo’s strong point, but the way this show summed up all the key Paris influences made it hugely important – especially in that, with very little full-on tailoring, it seemed to suggest that the era of the trussed-up Pitti aesthetic could soon be coming to an end.