The Spring/Summer 2018 installment of Paris Men’s Fashion Week was a study in contrasts, with sleek urban fashion on display in an al fresco atmosphere, outdoor wear on parade in a buzzing auditorium, and suit coats turned inside-out for a rousing examination of fashion interiors and exteriors.
Balenciaga turned heads by opting to present its 2018 collection out-of-doors at the Bois de Boulogne, a public park in the western suburbs of Paris. Using an understated pebble-strewn path as its catwalk, Balenciaga dazzled spectators with an ensemble that included short shorts and a variety of textures, often juxtaposing cotton, leather, and denim in the same outfit. Balenciaga’s talent crunched up and down the gravel walkway in sleek, black dress shoes. Its cast of models was diverse and inclusive, with an emphasis on family life: models were encouraged to walk the runway with their children in tow, and the fashion-savvy father was a leitmotif of the afternoon.
Not to be outdone, Rick Owens imposed his own reality upon the great outdoors by having his models descend from a metal scaffolding erected on the side of the Palais de Tokyo. His 2018 collection, titled “Dirt,” was an engaging response to 2017’s “Glitter,” with earth tone ensembles accentuated by the grandiose backdrop. Owens availed himself of a host of surprising fabrics and textures, from plastic to satin to gazar. The contrast between stiff formality and rugged individualism was in full effect and was as thought-provoking as it was visually enticing.
Comme des Garçons
Comme des Garçons brought its admirers inside from the Parisian heat with an auditorium show that paid homage to the brazenness of youth. Against a high-decibel acid house soundtrack, Rei Kawakubo’s models didn’t so much walk the runway as they danced it up and down, flaunting outfits that were often quite literally inside-out, revealing labels and interior stitching in a gutsy postmodern reversal of prevailing fashion sensibilities. Textures were bright and glamorous with fluorescent sequins that caught the light, and stunning surrealistic touches including a suit jacket dangling with plastic dolls.
Berluti set up shop outside the Paris Mint to show an eager viewing public that all that glitters are indeed not gold, placing an emphasis on deep, dark colors accented only sparingly with flashes of pink and purple. Clean-cut and razor-sharp from head to toe, Berluti enlisted male and female models to lend an intriguing androgyny to its minimalist aesthetic.
Celebrating its 70th anniversary, Dior Homme sought to fuse the richness of its past with the aspirations of its future by unveiling new takes on traditional men’s evening wear at a crowded Grand Palais. Its ensembles deftly combined aspects of formal attire with the more flexible and free-flowing fabrics of modern men’s sportswear. Tailored sport jackets framed frayed athletic gear as Dior Homme’s cast of heavily made-up male models toed the line between masculinity and feminine finesse.
Men’s Fashion Week 2018 put all of Paris to good use. Designers abroad seemed to make the intriguing suggestion that the ‘setting’ is just as much a part of fashion, as fabric and footwear. As the seasons turn, our gaze shifts to January of 2018, where we can expect yet another Fashion Week that both expands upon and challenges everything that came before.