Style Lessons For Men From Paris Men's Fashion Week 2019

Are you ready to channel Rod Stewart? Or might you try a puffer scarf? These were the questions raised at Paris Men’s Fashion Week. Stephen Doig reports

Backstage at Ami, Paris Men's Fashion Week 2019. Photo / Instagram @amiparis

Coffee Morning To Remember
With the Paris light streaming through floor-to-ceiling windows, Claire Waight Keller’s men’s presentation in Givenchy’s original couture salon was the most civilised coffee morning you’ve ever encountered, fusing British tailoring mores with French couture.

“I liked the idea of perverse poshness,” she said. “Looking refined but not really caring about it.”

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She reminisced about how, as a teenager, she would find old suiting and crop, slash and pull it to lend it a youthful edge. It was also the couture house itself — one of the most storied in Paris — and its sense of Gaulois refinement that acted as a starting point. “I’ve been here for 18 months now, and it’s so rooted in Paris that it puts an overarching feeling into what I do. I wanted to explore the idea of haute couture in men’s tailoring.”

Among the tailored pieces were stately overcoats with satin lapels, and a range of more showman-like glossy patent leather trenches and trousers. If the Givenchy man wants to indulge his rock star aspirations, oxidised patent coat and trousers would do nicely. Possibly not in the royal box at Ascot, but louche, sensual after-dark attire for the kind of Left Bank rake who would have frequented Le Sept back in the day.

The Colour Theory
Berluti — the historic French bottier that’s undergone a reinvention after being acquired by LVMH — has always been peerless in the world of surface patinas, dying leather into the richest shades by applying shade upon shade.
And at Kris Van Assche’s debut at the house, the designer applied those impactful, saturated tones to coats, lean suits and glossy ponyskin.

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At Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh, the king of streetwear, looked to the king of pop with a rainbow collection themed around Michael Jackson, including a spitting-image dancer in papal purple dancing through Eighties New York.

The Unlikely Icon: Rod Stewart
A handsome chalk-striped suit, as seen at Hermes, is an evergreen investment, but designers from Celine to Dior ramped things up by applying leopard print to coats and jackets. A little bit Rod Stewart, a little bit Seventies Parisian demi-monde and, in a sea of urban utility clothes and aggressive military attire, rather fun.

Us Britons might want to temper the full effect and wear the print on a tie or discreet T-shirt, but it’s refreshing to see something other than heritage plaids for once.

The Winter Cover-Up
A knitted scarf? Mon dieu! The streetwear trend that’s dominated men’s fashion might be on the wane, thanks to a return to more sartorial waters, but there’s one exception: the puffer scarf.

At Dries van Noten and Dunhill, scarves were padded and swamping, but came with pinstripes at the former and black leather at the latter to add a more elegant touch. Wear with a suit and feel sufficiently swaddled.

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All dressed in midnight blue #HermesHomme

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Vive La Révolution
The air of defiance thanks to the gilets jaunes protesters parlayed into the hard, aggressive outerwear on the catwalks. Kim Jones at Dior created a collection that balanced sensual coats of silk wrapped around the body with a harder edge in the form of heavy duty leathers. So, too, at Hermes where voluminous leather trousers and enormous parkas looked ready for battle, even though, at four- and five-figure prices, the Hermes man isn’t exactly taking to the streets. And at Dunhill, Mark Weston took the bourgeoisie connotations out of traditional suiting by proposing funnel-necked tops in silk instead of collared shirts.

On The Menu
Fashion houses like to compete for the most inventive invitation; Louis Vuitton’s crystal-studded MJ glove was a close second, but the winner was Jacquemus whose invitation was a round pain de campagne loaf to keep us poor darlings fuelled during the fashion show slog.

The French fare on offer at his collection debut — groaning platters of fromage, pâté and charcuterie — mirrored the Gallic insouciance that infused the collection.

Ocean’s In Heaven
With Naomi Campbell’s new Whitney-esque hair-do and, as a certain troop of Insta-stars took their seats, a whiff of something similar to marijuana, the front row was groaning this season with the weight of celebs. But Frank Ocean at Raf Simons confirmed the Belgian designer’s kudos among the rap fraternity, looking sharp (and warm) in hi-vis tangerine.

Real Clothes
Alongside the theatrics — gigantic flying light structures at Celine and Michael Jackson moves at Louis Vuitton — Paris is renowned for brands that create real clothes that men want to wear. Ami, the cool French label run by Alexandre Mattiussi, is a masterclass in understated ease, with roll-shoulder coats, shaggy knits and soft, breezy suiting that any fellow from Le Marais to Marylebone would be happy to wear.

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It’s a similar story at Officine Generale, run by Pierre Maheo. The designer specialises in relaxed shirting and suits that sit somewhere between smart and casual, and sumptuous leather bomber jackets that looked suitably bracing against the St Germain cold. The label puts a focus on provenance, and charting each part of a garment’s making. This collection combined cashmere from Italy and wool from Scotland, all executed with Left Bank élan — how’s that for a case of pan-European co-operation?

The Love Letter To Paris
For his first standalone men’s show, Hedi Slimane at Celine chose a venue that celebrated the full pomp and ceremony of Paris: the backdrop of the Place de la Concorde, with the Champs-Elysées and the Eiffel Tower glittering in the distance, the glint on his crystal-dappled bronze and gold coats picking up the landmark’s light show nicely.

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As taxis whizzed by looking on in bemusement, Slimane broke his rule of super-slim proportions (although not super-slim models) but relaxing the volume of his suit ever so slightly. The coats — houndstooth overcoats, duffles, macs — were classics, but in Slimane’s skewered way with boxy shoulders and chests and elongated frames. The designer also proposed a dash of evening glamour in those sparkling coats and bombers, something that’s been in short supply in men’s wardrobes in the last decade.

The message overall? It’s time to smarten up: when you’re faced with the full majesty of Paris as your stage, sloppy trainers don’t quite cut it.

— The Daily Telegraph 

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