Men’s Paris SS20, A Review
Men’s Paris SS20, A Review
WORDS BY : JOHN TILLEY
Designers doubled down on ’90s street grunge for Men’s Fashion Week Paris, but with a spirited magpie twist. Imagine the stoner kids running through all the other high school cliques’ closets—goths, preps, geeks, cowboys—and tossing the garments in the trunk of their beat-up car, then assembling their outfits from this hodge podge of Walmart-meets-high fashion, and you just might have an idea of what Men’s Fashion Week in Paris looked like. For a taste, here are six designers that left our heads spinning.
First of all, this show was staged inside a McDonald’s—a big, fat middle finger to the entire concept of ‘luxury’ which pervades the fashion industry. The clothes were no less surprising and literal—some of the models looked as if they were either just finishing up their shift at the fast food chain or had wandered in off the street for a couple dollar menu selects.
The show opened with blue collar uniforms in oversized proportions and diabolical footwear that looked ready for the apocalypse or a quick jolt around town on a motocross bike. The motocross theme came to full tilt in the leather crotch-high boots with red and white color blocking with just the right amount of slouchiness in the knee. Springtime floral patterns in pretty colors were tossed together with enterprising irreverence in some of the women’s looks, with plenty of extra fabric to give it that loungy, louche feel—but don’t fall asleep yet, the makeup was a black and white death metal fantasy.
Old-school emblems on sweatshirts gave the wander-off-the-street vibe. Exaggerations in the shoulders gave a surreal twist to otherwise ordinary silhouettes. Leopard made its obligatory appearance, but in a shimmering velvet. The collection was what profanity would look like if it were clothes: blasphemous, exciting, and full of anger, joy, and brilliance, all rolled into one.
The models look as if they dressed in white and rolled around in a box of crayons for this collection—Virgil Abloh collaborated with graffiti artist Futura for the wondrously sprawling doodles that make up a portion of the prints for his pieces. On top of that, Nike dropped their Dunk shoe in this collection in collaboration with the same artist. A chainlink fence was the other big print, and was a kind of staid reply to the mad joy of the graffiti. By comparison, the rest of the collection was calm in a street smarts kind of way, the contrast of the clothes to the carnation-lined runway one of a hip hop kid to a French provincial setting—it is Paris, after all.
Dries Van Noten
It’s all about peacocking over at Dries Van Noten. When you approach menswear through the lens of the feminine, you end up with a starlet boy with all eyes on him, a glistening jewel that any gender can appreciate. These clothes, even in a still photo, seem to strut—there is a disco extravaganza about them, but with enough restraint and that hard-to-define Dries Van Noten touch of puzzling together prints and materials to make them completely right for the contemporary moment. Van Noten is a master of the clash-match: militaristic prints and shapes clash-match with bright florals and animal prints, sleeveless plaids clash-match with shiny plastic fabrics, and multiple prints clash-match on a single garment to create a vividly-hued collage. These are Lotharios with many a costume at their disposal, and who prance with a sense of wild freedom in whatever they may wear—and we love them for it.
Rick Owens is a world unto himself. So it was surprising to see the designer stepping outside of his highly restrained color schemes of earth tones and various shades of black and embracing a little sparkle. His clothes always have a refined troglodyte feel to them, a cave man who goes to the opera sort of thing—this collection, however, was more like a caveman goes to the disco. There were the smartly-slashed-to-pieces-yet-brilliantly-tailored Rick Owens staples (the jumpsuits were impeccable, the textural trousers assembled from straps worth toasting); but then there were the sequins—gold sequins paired with shimmering rainbow hologram made for an interesting, fresh twist on the usual Rick Owens formula. The platform shoes were a strong statement, but we’ve come to expect that from Rick. Party on.
JW Anderson loves to elevate handmade crafts, making knitwear into something alien and chic. He took us to the desert with this collection, tassels and turbans in primary colors were like little hints at Aladdin or Scheherazade—the two are more or less interchangeable in Anderson’s cosmos, being a pioneer of the concept of gender-fluid garments. He slashed through tuxedos and trench coats as well, deconstructing them to basic linear elements: sleeves hacked off trench coats left elegant wings in the back; vertical inner skeletons of tuxedos with lapels intact and tassels on the ends made for striking moments of what-the-hell-is-that. Sweaters slashed until they resembled colorful birdcages around the exposed flesh of the models were reminiscent of DIY torn t-shirts.
DIY and deconstruction are opposites by definition—one is interested in making something by hand from scratch, the other in tearing things apart. Somehow, Anderson has managed to incorporate them both, the collection becoming a mantra on construction and means of production, as well as a graceful journey through a knitwear desert island.
Walter Van Beirendonck
Sometimes you get sick of talking about ‘cuts’ and ‘shapes’ and ‘tailoring,’ and you just want to have a raucous good time. Enter: Walter Van Beirendonck. His is an aesthetic of comic book expletives, circus clowns, and Mexican wrestlers—a world of revelry and showmanship, bright graphics, bold colors, and makeup that extends into the hair, as if the cartoonist let his pen wander. Even in moments of restraint, the pieces are full of cheek and whimsy—an all black outfit is spotted with three sewn-on pink polka dots, and one of the same hue is painted over the model’s eye/hair. The designer plays with every element at his disposal: bubbles of volume in sleeves, sheer plastic in electric hues balloons away from the body either at the collar or the leg, prints are spangled across t-shirts and pants and bodysuits. It’s a riotous game of loony, visionary doodles come to life, of toons that escaped 90s Nickelodeon and stormed the runway. Th-th-th-that’s all, folks.