If any assertion dominated the Paris fall/winter 2013 men’s shows this month, it was that conspicuously luxe consumption takes precedence over cautious, classic clothing. Courting the men who buy high fashion, designers including Kim Jones for Louis Vuitton and Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri went to extra lengths to create desirability among a strata of shoppers who believe – mistakenly, apparently – that their closets contain everything they need.
There were the subtle animal spots on a double-breasted ivory overcoat that opened the Vuitton show and turned out to be patches of mink fur that had been needle-punched through the cashmere. At Givenchy, Riccardo Tisci elevated his coveted graphic T-shirts by showing them in velvet. Even the Berluti ready-to-wear collection from Alessandro Sartori, staged in the Museum of Natural History, included six-ply cashmere sweaters, long evening coats and a stiff trench that belied its mink-lined interior. Meanwhile, Hedi Slimane’s debut as men’s wear designer at Saint Laurent flipped high-end on its head with shredded skinny jeans, plaid shirts and jackets that looked like they could have been scored in a thrift store. (Why do the dirty rummage work when you can drop a few thousand on the Saint Laurent version?)
In short, the season’s top trends may suggest a range of personality types, but seem tailor-made for men who want much more than the basics.
Dries Van Noten followed up his grunge-infused women’s spring collection with bon vivants in haute hangover wear, with just enough pattern clashing, layering and hints of skin to suggest a wild night. For Vuitton, Jones fashioned a rabid floral pattern designed by artists Jake and Dinos Chapman into robes that were styled over tuxedos, while Yohji Yamamoto’s bearded models looked defiantly unhinged in their wraparound woollens.
This theme was conveyed not through space exploration but through futuristic military attire and examples of innovative technical fabrications. Mugler’s Romain Kremer enthusiastically mined all uniform references, streamlining flight jackets, bulletproof vests and thermal trousers to their most form-fitting silhouettes, splashing them with neon and applying an insignia cheekily dubbed the “Mugl-Air.” For his namesake collection, Raf Simons imparted a futuristic look with thick black bands that bridged jacket lapels and long coats that were somehow severe yet slouchy. At Lanvin, sneakers in wildly layered high-performance materials will be in demand come August.
Black on black
Adhering to a completely black palette allowed designers like Véronique Nichanian at Hermès to focus on textural detail – for instance, black cashmere sweatpants and a cashmere turtleneck with a contrasting vest panel in black printed silk. Tisci’s commitment to black played out in leather shirts and shorts and waxed tweed motorcycle jackets. After all, the Dior Homme man might already have plenty of black in his wardrobe but he probably doesn’t have a zipper-front black business suit. Translation: Time to go shopping.