Style & Grooming

Dispatches from the Front Row: Paris

From raving models at Comme to abseiling dancers at Kenzo, here are the ten key takeaways from Paris Men’s Fashion Week

  • TextTed Stansfield

ONE MAGIC MOMENT of the week – if not the season – was the Rick Owens show, which saw the designer give the Palais de Tokyo a facelift, transforming it with a sky-high scaffolding catwalk. Soundtracked by an ear-splitting remix of I Need a Freak by Egyptian Lover, the show was, according to the designer, about the “human need to try to find order in wilderness.”

ANOTHER MAGIC MOMENT came courtesy of one of Paris’s other great iconoclasts: Rei Kawakubo. At the Comme des Garçons Hommes Plus show, she got her models to dance around the show space in her collection, which came thick with sequins, patches, faux fur, brocade, velvet and mutilated baby dolls. Her one comment backstage? “Why didn’t everyone get up and join in?”

CASTING: This season, Paris’s designers made some interesting choices when it came to casting. Balenciaga enlisted fathers and their children to walk in its show, while Berluti called on some old greats including Stella Tennant, Liya Kebede and Clement Chabernaud, and Kenzo employed an all-Asian cast – 83 models in total.

SHAYNE OLIVER has designed a collection for Helmut Lang. Speaking at a preview, the Brooklyn designer said he was trying to simultaneously respect Lang, while wanting to introduce his own aesthetic to it. Oliver’s show for the brand will be staged in September and, if the clothes we saw are anything to go by, it’s going to be a really exciting moment for the label.

SOUNDTRACK of the season goes to Louis Vuitton who got Canadian hip hop sensation Drake to create song – titled Signs – specially for them, inspired by the collection. Listen to the soundtrack here.

KYLE MACLACHLAN aka Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks made a surprise appearance at Balenciaga where he sat front row and, after the show, went backstage to converse with Creative Director Demna Gvasalia. Last year the actor appeared on the cover of M le Magazine du Monde dressed in a suit from Gvasalia’s first men’s collection for Balenciaga, suggesting that he’s a true fan of the Georgian designer’s work.

VETEMENTS staged an exhibition instead of a runway show this season, which paid homage to the brand’s new base in Switzerland. Shot in Zurich, the show featured blown-up images of non-model models wearing the label’s S/S18 collection, photographed and cast by Gvasalia himself.

ALEXANDER MCQUEEN made its Paris Men’s Fashion Week debut, following several season of presenting its men’s collections via lookbooks and, prior to that, showing in London. Staged in the Tuileries Garden and styled by Another Man’s Creative Director Alister Mackie, the show was a welcome return to the runways.

EXPLORATION appeared to be a key theme in Paris with Kim Jones taking inspiration from the world’s most remote islands and Sarah Burton from “explorers and pioneers” from history.

HEIGHTS: This really wasn’t a good season for acrophobics. Kenzo’s show saw performers dangle precariously from window sills five storeys up, while others abseiled down the side of the building. This, coupled with Rick Owens’ sky-high catwalk, was enough to give the more heights-sensitive fashion week attendants vertigo.