Big names, big houses, and indie frontrunners – that's what Paris is all about. With the third leg of the Spring/Summer 2017 menswear shows now underway, we bring you the highlights from all the best shows so far.
The Balenciaga menswear Spring/Summer 2017 show, Paris, by Régis Colin-Berthelier for NOWFASHION
Boxy at Balenciaga
Making his menswear debut for the house of Balenciaga (and marking the first time the house has actually hosted a show for its menswear collections), Demna Gvasalia naturally looked to the storied house’s archives – and reinvented them to exaggerated, elongated and pronounced effect. Inverted silhouettes took centre stage for oversized and boxy jackets up top and tight knee-length shorts below. It took that same Vetements dress-up spirit, styling, and semi-confrontational attitude and came packed with personality and a strong point of view – a hallmark of the designer who, ever since he launched his collective label just over a year ago, has been a tour de force with his new vision of what fashion is. This, again, was a case in point for the modern man, who will find himself rethinking how to wear tailoring now. For up until this point, it has been much of a muchness, with only waistlines and hem lengths altering. Not anymore.
The Facetasm menswear Spring/Summer 2017 menswear show, Paris, by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION
Fresh Like Facetasm
Face-what? Facetasm – "face" and "fantasm"? – the brand by Japanese designer Hiromichi Ochiai is already big in Japan and is currently trying to make it overseas in Paris as a new name on the official Paris menswear schedule. And so far, Ochiai made a great impression on the City of Light, as his label was the first Japanese brand to become a finalist for the 2016 edition of the LVMH Prize – a prize that was awarded to Grace Wales Bonner earlier this month. Style-wise, Facetasm perfectly epitomizes the current gender-bending fashion trend that has been taking its toll on men's and women's fashion for the past three seasons already. Just like his peers at VETEMENTS and Y/Project, Facetasm breaks with the high/low dichotomy by mix-matching street culture and luxury and putting a focus on gender fluid fashion with bold print and fabric associations in urban-chic looks, that were sublimated by traditional Japanese motifs.
The Y/Project menswear Spring/Summer 2017 show, Paris, by Régis Colin-Berthelier for NOWFASHION
Slouch the Y/Project Way
leeves that sloped into voluminous shape and cascaded over hands; cuffs that flicked out into multiple layers, trouser kick-flares to match; the silhouette was all about the perfect slouch at Y/Project, the LVMH Designer Prize-nominated brand headed up by Belgian designer Glenn Martens since 2013. In the wake of Vetements’ street-real-urban-culture-mash-up success, it’s a brand that has suddenly stepped into the spotlight and struck a chord, its unisex approach to dressing feeling entirely relevant right now. This was a collection that also championed the pastel palette for men – peach, lilac, baby blue, they were all there and interwoven with tuxedos and street-sportswear. And though pseudo high-waist in fit, trousers and jeans were worn slung at the hips, some flies descending into how-low-can-you-go triangle point to reveal boxer shorts for a proper show – of one’s underwear.
The Louis Vuitton menswear Spring/Summer 2017 show, Paris, by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION
Lean at Louis Vuitton
Kim Jones’ first show for the house of Louis Vuitton was inspired by his childhood in Kenya and Botswana – and he revisited that for Spring/Summer 2017 in a collection that combined Africa’s savannah palette and the work of Frank Marshall’s “Renegades” portraits featuring a series of Botswana bike gangs with London’s punk scene. The result was a lean and neat silhouette for skinny plaid trousers and fluffy sweaters, breezy shirts of giraffes and zebras, compact little bomber jackets, and beautiful belted macs, some in transparent monogram rubber, for an edgier approach to the “gentleman traveller.” Travel was a big theme in the Milan shows and of course it would continue to be so for Louis Vuitton, a house for whom its foundations are built on awesome luxury luggage – of which there were plenty of downsized options here. Vuitton’s first soft travel bag, the Steamer, was reworked into a backpack and there were lots of solid and sturdy little box bags to keep one’s bag fantasies alive and well (and bank balance questionable).
The Lemaire menswear Spring/Summer 2017 show, Paris, by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION
Lemaire's Timeless Tailoring
Timeless wardrobe staples with a Far East flavor? Clean cuts and classic shapes with an urban twist? Welcome to maison Lemaire. Each season, Christophe Lemaire and his partner-in-crime Sarah-Linh Tran add another precious milestone to their design legacy by developing their trend- and seasonless inventory of menswear essentials a tad further. This time around, the ordre du jour was "loosen up a bit!" In this sense, the designer-duo put their inspirations in common and created a new player: the Lemaire man is less grown-up this season and a bit more rock'n'roll. In fact, he comes off like a juvenile delinquent, with his "Grease Lightning" 50s styled hair (just a subtle inspiration, not a full John Travolta hairdo!) and his key-holder cord hanging down his pants, but he also seems to be well-travelled, if you take into account the sleek djellabas crafted from crisp cottons and denims in light earthy hues or the baboosh inspired leather slippers. The outerwear was particularly desirable this season: sleek and tailored – but feather-light – Lemaire's key pieces included windbreakers and rain jackets in water repellent cottons in warm, earthy hues, as well as convertible parkas with patched pockets and sleek overcoats in coated cotton.
The Rick Owens menswear Spring/Summer 2017 show, Paris, by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION
Rick Owens' Poetic Tribute
Rick Owens has caused a lot of ink to flow for the past seasons either for his penis-flashing menswear designs or rebellious runway models that had the nerve to act out on their own during the show – without the designer's approval. Maybe Owens felt that he needed to "tame" his runway offering a bit, to move away from his usually eccentric performances and to reduce the show to its essentials: runway and clothes – lights, camera, action! While Owens' mise-en-scène was certainly one of his most classic ones recently, his Spring/Summer 2017 menswear offering had just the right dose of outlandishness – an eccentric touch that came in wearable styles – and poeticality – the models walked down the runway to Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" soundtrack. In this context, the collection's black, saffron, and terra cotta hued silhouettes were sleek and slouchy with a focus on figure-hugging draping, wrapping and knotting techniques that created new – always gender-bending – proportions in sculpted looks. In fact, Owens’ menswear collections always feel like a work of art on their own: distancing himself from regular ready-to-wear and tailoring codes and traditions, Owens analyzes, dissects and intellectualizes the garment and the design result is often something completely new, unexpected – and unique.