The Paris Menswear Fashion Week has just ended and we simply loved it! After almost a year of restrictions, we are all, professionals and public both, getting used to this new distant showcasing practice. Of course, everybody wishes for a fast return to normality, but digital shows and alternative presentations get better and better each new season, and as a result, we’re starting to feel the charm of this digital world. Not only. Paris, home of romance and artistic expression, has offered us a whole new perspective on current and future fashion, different from the one so far outlined in Milan. The two cities have moved on parallel tracks and both points of view are interesting for an in-depth analysis of the present.
The Paris Menswear Fashion Week has just ended and we simply loved it! In Milan, predicates were comfort, safety and tradition, while in Paris, all (or almost) the brands spoke of rebirth, eclecticism and fun. Fashion is entertainment after all, for us and others too: if we can focus on its playful side, we will perhaps be able to better face the psychological effects induced by the pandemic. Jonathan Anderson was, among others, the most receptive designer of this need for joyful renewal that we have experimented, by different extent. Despite the difficulties, 2020 has given us a blank page to reflect on, to grow and improve.
The two brands he directs, JW Anderson and Loewe, have presented fun, daring collections, “communicated” through equally imaginative formats. For Loewe specifically, Anderson created a “show in a book”, the natural evolution of his previous show-in-a-box and show-on-a-wall. The book – which will later be made available to the public – is all the FW21 collection and how it has been inspired by the multifaceted genius of Joe Brainard: his work has been sublimated into special garments and has focused especially on trousers – culottes in vaguely hippies prints, very wide pants that fade on themselves and skinny pants in black leather and buckles, with a decisive punk soul.
We find punk again, in different forms, in Yohji Yamamoto‘s and Rick Owens‘s work. Both stylists have very personal and incredible aesthetics. Above all, they are appreciated for their effort to stay true to themselves while always evolving. This time, Paris was also distinguished by the philosophical component presents behind many collections.
Owens went through deep reasoning, as often happens. His collection is called Gethsemane, which is the name of the garden in which Christ closed himself to meditate and to wait to fulfil his destiny of death. We all had our personal Gethsemane, during the lockdown, a symbolic space of physical confinement that allowed us to reflect, suspended, waiting for the future to come. Hopefully, it will soon be time to reap what we have sown. While the collection is disruptive, even in its sensuality, it also hides a willingness of protection – of personal closure and reflection. The faces are covered, the zips of the sweatshirts reach the top of the heads.
Other decidedly theatrical collections were that of Louis Vuitton by Virgil Abloh, Dior by Kim Jones and Y / Project. For many, Abloh’s FW21 for Louis Vuitton has been one of the designer’s most mature so far. The video, (Peculiar Contrast, Perfect Light) is beautiful, in the pure sense of the term; the collection is lively, creative, full of different ideas, and the themes it touches are more important than ever. Gender, class and ethnic belongings, the stereotypes and discrimination deriving from them, are mixed in looks that take full advantage of different aesthetic traditions, to create a multicultural exchange that is not merely in the name of inclusivity (even if the theme is very dear to the designer). Abloh goes indeed one step further: representation is not just a moral duty that the fashion industry has been called upon, but rather an inexhaustible source of inspiration that should not be wasted.
Dior Homme staged a pompous, regal and vaguely military collection. Nothing old and stale, however, as these terms might suggest, quite the opposite. For Jones, fashion needs to get ready for the party because, after a full year of restrictions, it will be more alive than ever. For Y/Project the show does not rely on time and space but focuses entirely on clothes. The looks of the FW21 are curled, almost affected and, as usual, they can be reinvented endless times, thanks to the tricks that allow them to be worn in always new ways.
Dries van Noten presented a less exuberant, more calm and thoughtful collection than usual. The protagonists are the classic garments of the male wardrobe – shirts, tailored trousers and trench coats among others- which however are modified for the future. The lengths change, the colours become intense, the fabrics mix. In van Noten’s vocabulary, the beauty lies in the capability of making the usual into exceptional. Hermès moves more or less on the same line of thought, and offers a refined daily collection, never predictable but still characterized by ease.
To further mark the sweet idea of familiarity is Jil Sander, whose collection is personal and very delicate. The looks speak of family affection and warmth, things that many of us has missed during 2020. A simple metal necklace carries the letters M-O-T-H-E-R as pendants, the palette is beautiful, the designs on sweaters and pullovers break the usually austere minimalism of the Meier.
Cover picture courtesy: LOEWE & Jil Sander