Paris Menswear Evolves

The name of the game in Paris this season was evolution, not revolution. That’s not meant as a criticism. The AW15 shows were certainly not without their surprises (Rick Owens, we’re looking at you) and triumphs, and proved again that Paris is one of the best cities for menswear.

Over in the evolution camp, Hedi Slimane, champion of the slim silhouette, showed a Saint Laurent collection that was again an ode to 1960s rock ‘n’ roll.

When Slimane first debuted the skinny silhouette over a decade ago, it was certainly a revolution, but now that every Tom, Dick & Harry Styles has co-opted it, it can no longer be classed as thus. That said, the AW15 collection was tremendously wearable, if a little safe:

Playing to their strengths were the Belgian houses. Dries Van Noten was all about texture, showing a signature array of luxurious fabrics, romantic notions and creatively-cut casual tailoring.

For the established Dries aficionados, this time it was about sliced sections with strict horizontal lines, for a refreshing jolt of modernity:

Haider Ackerman also stayed true to his romantic roots, with fabrics and textures that were as lustrous as they were tactile:

Maison Margiela, however, was the winner in the texture wars, showing everything from smooth panelled calf leather trousers to knitted tinsel jumpers, letting the materials – and particularly the way they were juxtaposed – do all the talking:

Then there was Rick Owens. In recent seasons, his move away from black-on-black has brought out a playful, experimental side. The AW15 show’s now infamous peephole penises aside, it was the sheaths of cloth, contrasted beautifully against the strict zippered jackets, that left the real lasting impression:

Riccardo Tisci’s Givenchy also pushed the codes of the house, showing female models on the catwalk as an excellent contrast to the men.

A collection of two halves – black, dark, edged with scarlet and aggressive to start, followed by a Navajo-esque pattern – this was classic Tisci and satisfied the two ever-disparate sectors of Givenchy fans:

Showing an excellent distillation of youthful exuberance, Kenzo mined further into avant fashion for AW15, playing with sci-fi themes exemplified by reflective jackets, circuit board patterns, emergency orange accents and UFO logo jumpers.

Along with a hefty exploration of horizontal stripes and some rather odd binbag-esque totes, the melange of colour showed that the label is still really exploring codes in masculine dressing:

Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy is another designer that has quickly established himself as one of the most exciting talents in Paris, showing collections that riff on skate culture and streetwear.

This season, acid wash denim, joggers with white socks and shearling coats were emblazoned with the CNOPT logo – the Russian equivalent of Eurosport – making a comment on both youth sportswear culture, and the Russian media:

Back in wearable reality, AMI reaffirmed its place as the new A.P.C., with a simple, elegant collection. Showing plenty of classic blue denim with trademark relaxed collars, they were offset by the brand’s simply-tailored pieces:

The big guns at Valentino showed a return to form after a few seasons of safe play, with a fabulous array of geometrics. The complex hieroglyphics-esque patterns carried on coats were gorgeous, and a masterclass in how to apply a graphic without the graphic becoming everything about the garment:

Although showing in Paris, it was two British designers that really showed what the French capital is known for: beautifully made pieces with interesting design.

The Paul Smith collection’s gentle assimilation of many of the above trends took crazy ideas and made them eminently wearable without being safe.

Longline coats and subtle patterns all relied on luxurious wools, but by keeping graphics simple and letting materials flow naturally, the designer demonstrated why people keep coming back to his soft (in cut, look and feel) tailoring time and again:

Over at Louis Vuitton, Kim Jones experimented with tessellated patterns in a playful, youthful way, but this didn’t make any of the clothes feel too young for the kind of man that can actually afford a €10,000 vicuna coat.

The designer applied bold graphics to luxe accessories and camel coats, and showed that – four years in – Jones’ Vuitton is a world away from his predecessor’s. And that’s definitely a good kind of evolution. The sort of evolution that could only happen in Paris.