Loewe thrust Paris Fashion Week into a bleak and dystopian vision of the future on Saturday, turning its runway into a dead space where nature and animal life only existed to be harnessed and exploited by humankind. A sanitised white wall descended on to a bare deck as models walked by robotically, bathed in misty white light.
On Friday, Dior's English countryside-inspired show attracted a gathering of high-profile names — including David Beckham and son Cruz, Naomi Campbell, J Balvin, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel — as it paid homage to late British painter Duncan Grant, a celebrated member of London’s Bloomsbury Group, a British collective of writers, intellectuals and artists in the early 20th century who are often cited by designer Kim Jones as an influence.
While Paris Fashion Week ends on a high note with Celine rounding out the spring-summer 2023 menswear collections, here are some of the highlights so far:
Cowgirls and cowboys mingled in Casablanca’s eye-popping show that was notable for its highly unusual set. The co-ed collection was staged in front of several fenced-off horses that paid little attention to the clothes, passed waste nonchalantly and sniffed in the opposite direction.
Designer Charaf Tajer cared little for the indifferent equine reaction, sending down the runway energetic and enthusiastic looks that harked from the heartland of American rodeos and the Wild West.
Flamboyant shirt panelling in camp, pastel hues accompanied stiff, oversized lapels that were a take on the cowboy jacket. They were sometimes accessorised with large Liberace-style cowboy hats.
Colourblocking and vivid patterns added even more visual flair as bright red trousers made for a dizzying contrast with a peak-shouldered canary coat and patches of pale blue.
Loewe's nature morte
Models wore plates of television screens showing deep water fish in the ocean, and plasma screen visors beamed out growing chrysanthemums. The only place that grass grew in designer Jonathan Anderson’s fashion dystopia was literally out of shoes, where green blades quivered and flapped surreally as the automatons filed by.
The British designer used the remarkable set and concept not only as a springboard for some of the most accomplished designs seen this season, but to make a thoughtful comment about ecology and humanity’s contempt for the natural world. If we continue, Anderson warned, that world will be destroyed and the only way to see bees will be on video.
The organic versus the robotic was explored in Anderson's conceptual designs that were intentionally off-kilter. A white minimalist sweater had surplus sleeves that flapped about limply at the side of the model, on top of white sports leggings and loafers sprouting 10-centimetre clumps of grass.
Bare chests and legs exposed vulnerability, while hard, square-strap bags slung across the shoulder added a contrasting fierceness. But the piece de resistance was the giant mustard toggle shoes that looked like the hooves of a horse but could equally have come from the set of a Star Wars planetary village.
Marine Serre's sport-inspired wardrobe
French label Marine Serre sent athletes and artists to stroll a track field runway on Saturday evening, showcasing a sport-inspired wardrobe infused with artistic references in an all-ages, open-to-the-public fashion event.
Like Olympic opening ceremonies, delegations succeeded one another.
First up was a squad of male and female models in recycled fibre swimwear that melded to the body, framing the curves. Then came a collection of upcycled denim silhouettes with crisp patchwork. Adding colour was a series in pink, including a Chanel-like twinset — but made with towel material.
Madonna's daughter Lourdes Leon, 25, sashayed down the athletic field in a crescent-moon print catsuit, piled with gilded jewellery.
Ex-Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse, 40, football in hand, wore a floral shirt and short set, while French actor JoeyStarr, 54, strutted along in leather trousers paired with a jewel print zip-up jacket.
In addition to the usual fashion-industry guests — clients, journalists and influencers — 900 tickets were handed out online, reservations granted on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Tickets sold out in seconds.
Craig Green impresses
British designer Craig Green, who was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II this year for his contribution to fashion, is one menswear designer who continues to impress.
On Saturday, he brought his utilitarian-edged wares from London back to the Paris runway for an inventive, fashion-forward take on uniforms.
Green developed his cutting-edge aesthetic after internships with names such as Walter van Beirendonck and Henrik Vibskov, leading to collaborations with Moncler.
Dangling stirrups, straps, pockets and accessories featured, as did equestrian and fencing wear in pastel shades, deconstructed with a transgressive or even an aggressive edge.
Green blurred the line deftly between art and fashion. One DIY look, with a top that seemed to be an upside-down sink with a builder’s ladder on the back, also evoked an armour breastplate.
Hermes' soft geometry
Gentle geometry and loose proportions paraded down the cobbled stones of the Gobelins Manufactory, a historic tapestry factory in Paris’ chic Left Bank.
Hermes has become a byword for simple, unpretentious luxury. Veteran menswear designer Veronique Nichanian, who’s been at the design helm for more than three decades, proved this again on Saturday in a classy and masculine showing that riffed on the 1980s.
It was a more relaxed affair than usual, with contemporary takes on Roman sandals and boxy, comfy baggy shorts.
There were the expected studies in contrasts. Tensions appeared in the proportions, such as in one oversize pastel grey jacket worn over a low-slung vest and high shorts. The difference appeared in fabric textures and colours: one sheeny taupe shirt came under a honeydew leather jacket above fluid black trousers.
Gently geometric lines went on to adorn woollen sweaters in myriad hues.
Louis Vuitton brings in the marching band
Louis Vuitton cranked up the volume at Paris Fashion Week on Thursday, spiriting Florida's famous Marching 100 band into the heart of the Louvre to kick off a show for its latest line-up of colourful menswear styles — in honour of the label's popular, late designer Virgil Abloh.
"Virgil, long live Virgil," rapper Kendrick Lamar intoned, seated next to model Naomi Campbell on a bright yellow runway — a blown-up toy racetrack that wound around a cobblestoned courtyard with a fountain running in the centre.
Performers from the Florida A&M University band twirled flags to the fanfare of the brass instruments, breaking out into dance moves before marching off the runway in formation, clearing the way for the models.
For the spring/summer collection, the fashion house's men's studio drew on Abloh's signature tailoring, sending out elongated suits in pastels, jackets covered with wild flower prints or embellishments such as paper plane shapes and dangling patches in the form of scissors. There were twisted, psychedelic biker jackets, fringed jean jackets, knit hats and shirts with jagged edges worn with loose, Bermuda shorts.
At the end of the show, models carried out a lightweight strip of pastel rainbow fabric, recalling Abloh's first Paris presentation for the label in 2018 which he held on a rainbow runway, symbolising his approach to diversity.
Givenchy models walk on water
For the first major collection of Paris Fashion Week’s menswear season, Givenchy’s models walked on water.
A giant font filled with milky-white water and frothing mist in the courtyard of the Ecole Militaire served as a fluid runway where models, often bare-chested and in waterproof footwear, stomped and splashed towards a blinding set light.
Matthew M Williams clearly wanted to make a splash in his first stand-alone menswear presentation since being appointed in 2020.
Williams’s vision is urban, sports-infused and pared down. The American designer, the former collaborator of Lady Gaga and Kanye West, brought his streetwear vibe again to the haute Paris runway. The muse this season was the style of Jamaican Reggae singer Alkaline, who worked on the show soundtrack.
These looks were defined by long and loose silhouettes, frayed hems, thick chains and fearsome facemasks.
Observations from Williams’s past produced many of the looks. The bomber jackets with laser-cut house logos that opened the event were inspired by those the designer used to admire in Harlem, New York. Elsewhere, the street styles of California mixed with preppy styles, such as torn tailored trousers.
Williams said of his collection backstage that “everything is grounded in reality. I could see the guy in each look existing on the street — for me, that’s a really modern approach.”
— Additional reporting by AP and Reuters