The Best Shows from Paris Men’s Fashion Week
As there’s currently a (much needed) break in the fashion month calendar, let’s take a look back at Paris Menswear week. With 79 shows, presentations and fashion films on the official calendar across 6 days; Paris Menswear came and went like a fashion storm. We were swirled and twirled in a flurried frenzy of structured blazers, bare chests, thoughtful prints and conversations about size inclusivity in menswear.
As is the case with jam packed fashion weeks, the drama and gossip overshadowed the innovators. Those that are pushing menswear forward by creating thought-provoking, craftsmanship-focused pieces deserve their flowers. So, here are the 5 shows we want to highlight from Paris Menswear Week.
- Bianca Saunders
London born and bred, highly decorated and loved by fans and fashion contemporaries alike, Bianca Saunders had the spotlight on her. Women, especially black women designers are rare in the high fashion world, so instantly Saunders brings something new to the menswear scene. Hailed as this generation’s queen of bringing femininity to menswear, she took it up a notch. This collection named Playwork explored perception, and how everything is rarely how it initially seemed. Combined with Saunders’ calling card of expert tailoring, fun prints and threads of femininity, this collection was thoughtful, fun and educational. Guests were transported into Saunders’ childhood memories of family time watching comedian Oliver Samuels’ show Oliver At Large both through sound, set design and the pieces themselves. At first glance what may appear to just be another abstract print is in fact a still from the aforementioned Jamaican comedic TV show. This innovation, dedication to authentically representing both her roots and the future of the brand and commitment to craftsmanship, is why Saunders is worthy of the hype.
Casablanca’s creative director and founder, Charaf Tajer is known for being and creating fun. It was therefore sobering and heart-warming that he chose to open the show with an impassioned speech explaining the inspiration behind the show: Syrian youth. After hearing a story told to him by a friend, Tajer was so inspired by the Syrian youth’s determination to find joy despite their circumstances that he visited Damascus (the capital of Syria). Described by Tajer as “a living paradox”, he saw firsthand the juxtaposition between the beauty of celebrating life and the devastation of a city ruined by war. This passion and dedication to see and represent refugees as humans not numbers, as equals and people to empathise with was palpable in the collection. For The Peace had Casablanca classics of brightly coloured prints and silk shirts, but this time they were accompanied by touches of military silhouettes and a reworked Casablanca logo to look like a heart. Tajer impressed by combining his Moroccan heritage, his French citizenship and the inspiration that came from Syrian youth celebrating. The collection was thoughtful, thought-provoking and beautiful.
In popular culture Hermès is synonymous with luxury accessories, especially their handbags. This means that the quality and beauty of their clothes often gets overlooked. This season, artistic director Véronique Nichanian made sure that wasn’t the case. Playing with the idea of dressing up for the daytime, Nichanian brought a femininity-laced sexiness to this collection. As always there was a focus on celebrating and exalting luxury fabrics; leathers (an Hermès staple), cashmere and fine-knits but playing with lengths, silhouettes, lines and textures.
This was a big risk especially at Hermès, the house known for savoir faire (aka poise and tact) but Nichanian is a veteran for good reason. This was her presenting the post-Covid version of herself, someone that wanted to enjoy life all day and not just in the evening, focusing on fun rather than restraint and uploading the French culture of savoir faire. Change both rarely happens and is rarely achieved well by established fashion houses, this seamless transition to a more lively and leisurely yet still structured, precise, confident and beautiful Hermès man was a much needed breath of fresh air.
- Saint Laurent
In a world ruled by excess, Anthony Vaccarello went for the bold statement of choosing restraint for this Saint Laurent show. Its namesake founder Yves Saint Laurent was known for decadence that arguably erred on the side of debauchery, so this is a far cry from the 1966 collection that featured a completely sheer chiffon dress with an ostrich feather belt. However, this pulled back clean aesthetic enabled Vaccarello to make a strong statement using the current trend of gender fluid dressing.
Whether you believe this is a sign of a societal move away from gender norms or simply a revenue-focused way to advertise menswear, clothes labelled gender fluid tend to be too middle of the road. By focusing on the beauty of the pieces rather than the intended wearer, Vaccarello provided an insight into the future of fashion where clothing is neither menswear or womenswear and instead just beautiful clothing. For Vaccarello this ultimate level of elegance and chicness meant neutral tones of mainly white and black allowing the precise cut of the pieces to shine.
While Yves Saint Laurent revolutionised fashion by creating menswear for women, Vaccarello is making clothing for all. His vision and message is intriguing and clearly communicated.
- Rick Owens
As a generation obsessed with being different and individualism, Rick Owens, the king of otherness, resonates with Gen Z. So, the highly coveted and ever fickle generation waited eagerly to see if he was still worthy of their time. Weird yet wonderful, structured yet free flowing, dark tones yet airy and light is exactly what Owens presented. He was inspired by the prudishness of the Victorian era, yet the pieces were not stuffy, old or dated. The social push towards restraint and repression of the era was interpreted through self containing pieces such as the aptly named “duvet donuts” while still having the Owens’ note of substantial provocativeness.
As always Tyrone Dylan Susman, Owens’ fit model turned muse, design assistant and protege opened the show. Described by the founder as a symbol of both the idealisation of youth and the importance of loyalty and things not being disposable, Susman has opened every Owen menswear show since SS2020.
Self-restraint, self-reflection and simplicity all wrapped with authenticity are important messages. As brands all over the world and across all industries constantly strategise to find ways to engage young people, Owens has done this effortlessly just by being true to himself.
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