Day 2 of the Paris Fall/Winter 2016 menswear season was all about staging a good show – quite literally.
“Dries Van Noten's Night at the Opera”
Dries Van Noten, who is the master of contemporary subtleness and sensuality when it comes to both men's and women's wear, invited his guests to join his models on stage for a night at the Opera Garnier in Paris.
“It was really good for me to be able to show here on the stage of the theatre,” said the designer, referring to his unusual setting where the audience is not seated but part of the show. “In a way, it turned the world a bit upside down,” he added. The particular dramatic impact of this theatrical setting was also Dries Van Noten's starting point when he discussed his collection with press backstage after the show, explaining that the staging of the show “has only been possible with the help of Robert Carsen,” the reputed Canadian opera director who received the title of Knight of the Legion of Honour in 1996 and who has been a source of inspiration for Van Noten.
Embracing Art Nouveau inspired details, Dries Van Noten did what he does best: creating a timeless yet utterly contemporary runway collection imbued with cultural references and his one-of-a-kind modernist surface embellishments. Picking up on last season's collection in which he made a tribute to "iconoclasts and provocateurs" by staging "an imaginary chat between Marilyn Monroe and Salvador Dalí," Van Noten still had the term “iconoclast” in mind when he designed his latest F/W2016 collection. In fact, the Belgian designer channeled the deconstruction of ceremonial uniforms and their flamboyant decorative elements with a psychedelic twist, clashing robust fabrics and cuts with a dandy-esque and regal attitude.
“Kim Jones' love declaration to Paris at Louis Vuitton”
Elsewhere, Robert Carsen also had somewhat of an impact. Louis Vuitton's Kim Jones provided a F/W16 menswear show that made reference to “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez,” the Maison's current exhibition at the Grand Palais, which was staged by Carsen and curated by Olivier Saillard, Director of the Musée Galliera. The title of the exhibition was printed on some of the designer's silky, pajama-inspired menswear outfits.
As per tradition, Kim Jones presented his F/W16 menswear outing at the Serre du Parc André Citroen – a greenhouse in which the designer has been showcasing his collections for the past seasons. This time his usually minimal and refined show setting bathed in natural light was complemented by “Luminal Air Space-Time,” an art work created by Japanese Artist Shinji Ohmaki that hung from the ceiling of the venue and made for an impressive atmosphere.
But beyond that, Kim Jones had the City of Light on his mind. “This season I was inspired by Paris – old and new,” said the designer, referring to his F/W16 collection “Future Heritage,” that also paid a tribute Louis Vuitton's impressive 162-year-old archives and the refreshing perspective of a modern man's wardrobe that embraced Art Deco decorative motifs, while imbuing the garment with a sense of practicality. And practical it was: the collection stood out for its lightweight outerwear and featherweight knitwear, while providing a luxurious take on denim – according to the show notes, the denim was treated by specialist artisans using the wax and indigo-painting technique “Roketsu” in order to provide a crackled finish of the fabric.
“Pigalle's first show after winning the 2015 ANDAM edition”
Stéphane Ashpool, for his part, presented his latest menswear offering for Pigalle at the Théâtre de l'Atelier. This is Ashpool's first show after winning the 2015 ANDAM edition and one could tell that the fashion prize's financial backing and the mentorship provided by Chanel's President of Fashion Bruno Pavlovsky had a positive impact on the young designer. In fact, Ashpool unveiled his most mature collection and fashion show so far and worked with traditional ateliers, including Maison Lesage, Lemarié, and Lognon to perfect his knowledge of craftsmanship.
“After learning here and there from those around me, I can now count on a number of tools and knowledge. Providing extra attention to technique is a new process for me,” said the designer about “Eros,” his F/W16 menswear collection. The theatrical show was comprised of a set-design made out of hanging mirrors in front of which models would wander and occasionally stop, while musicians Keiichiro Shibuya (piano) and Pauline Haas (harp) performed on stage.
In line with his contemporaries, Ashpool belongs to a generation of designers – think Virgil Abloh and Gosha Rubchinskiy – that democratizes luxury and high-end ready-to-wear by infusing urban cultural codes into their collections with an additional dose of street cred. This time, however, Pigalle was also about celebrating a man's feminine side by contrasting sports flavored looks with pastel hued, sensual men's staples from precious fabrics. “Strength and gentleness, sensitivity and determination...my collection pays homage to a certain femininity in men, to the eroticism that results out of it.”