On all fashion week schedules, there are the collections you come to expect. And during last week’s Spring Summer 2023 menswear shows in France, plenty came with that effortlessly chic, toned down tailoring Parisian style is famed for.
Classic men’s cuts came from the likes of Hermès, who showed slouchy, greige suits with pops of colour, shell suit jackets and printed bowling shirts.
Paul Smith added ombré, highlighter shade sweaters amongst their V-neck wool vests and washed out, striped nude trenches, while Études showed an elegant selection of monochrome styles which moved from stone shade shirting, through burnt orange tailoring and ended with a multicoloured burst. These were sophisticated, but this season there was a real sense many designers wanted to be different instead.
From risqué cuts and dangerous dancing to headless models and unique clothing concepts– these are the moments we did not see coming...
Walk on the wild side at Loewe
JW Anderson has made quirky touches that boom on social media his design staple.
Designing for Loewe, these range from balloon bras to cracked egg stillletos, but on Saturday he opted for a green step forward and grew real chia plants and cat’s wort on coats, sweatshirts and tracksuits. They looked best sprouting out of trainers and were the result of experimenting with designer Paula Ulargui Escalona.
A statement from the brand explained the plant based section took 20 days to grow in a specially constructed polytunnel on the outskirts of Paris. Slow fashion’s new look or a soggy, soily nightmare - you decide.
Strap in at Thom Browne
Thom Browne held a mid-20th century salon style collection, and added bare bums and a wink.
His first looks were shown on supermodels including Marisa Berenson and Debra Shaw, who rushed in apologising for their lateness before squeezing into front row seats in full looks. The remainder filed out holding their look number on a sign, as it was done in the original salon shows.
Less traditional was Browne’s SS23 staple - jockstraps. The show notes described them as the “ultimate masculine garment,” and they came peeping above miniskirts, shorts and three quarter length trousers which hung below hips. The final cowboy look saw a model prance down in fringed blue chaps, matching waistcoat and a sizeable pointed codpiece, complete with a dangling anchor pendant.
Kids play at Louis Vuitton
His brand of adding left field fun to the legacy French house remained front and centre in his absence. The studio imagined a magnified playground for SS23, with witty looks like one suit covered in appliqué origami paper planes.
The childhood tropes were played with more subtly using proportions, however. Oversized lilac overcoats with padded shoulders suggested growing room, while cropped v-neck knitwear had the air of hand-me-downs, ready to be passed along.
Yay or neigh at Casablanca
Questions came after Casablanca’s show, where Moroccan designer Charaf Tajer took The Vaqueros, who are traditional horse-riding herders from Mexico, as literal inspiration.
Seductively styled ranch boys strutted topless in denim dungarees, pastel panelled Western shirts and cowboy hats with extended brims folded into a bicorne silhouette. Behind them, four horses were fenced in as a thematic backdrop.
It comes after Chanel’s January couture show faced backlash from PETA after Charlotte Casiraghi rode her horse down the catwalk.
It was not that Casablanca’s ponies seemed particularly distressed - they were actually docile, and stood bemused while defecating on the floor. But the clothes can speak for themselves and here, livestock was just a distraction.
Leaning towers at Homme Plissé Issey Miyake
It was a predictable start as the Homme Plissé Issey Miyake monochrome pleated culottes, jackets with curved shoulder panels, and vest trouser sets streamed out into an industrially sized showspace on Thursday. Then the adrenaline cranked up.
Acrobats climbed out of a back wall, before traversing the room in leaning towers of three, stacked on each other’s shoulders. The performers, directed by Rachid Ouramdane of the Théâtre National de Chaillot, flung themselves around in elegant style, and proved why these simple garments maintain their appeal; freedom of movement with an understated chic.
Off with their heads at Doublet
Japanese designer Masayuki Ino of Doublet won 2018’s LVMH prize - the first Asian designer to do so - but his brand remains a small name on the Paris Fashion Week schedule.
You would do well to forget him on Sunday, though, after his snow storm runway where icey-frosted beard tips and eyebrows made for an unlikey Spring Summer look.
Popcorn tops and metallic biker jackets were standouts, until four headless models arrived in fast succession. Red tracksuits, a trench coat, turtle necks and floor length fringed black tailoring all sat above head height to give the guillotine effect. Admittedly, it’s an unlikely one to take off on the street style scene.
Crazed clowns at Comme des Garçons Homme Plus
Wild wigs, papier-mâché masks, and harlequin print clown slacks came - often simultaneously - at Comme des Garçons’ Homme Plus show on Saturday.
It was head scratching stuff, until designer Rei Kawakubo revealed in the show notes she had taken to the court jesters of the Middle Ages. “I imagined that these jesters probably had punk spirit,” she said.
This new face of punk - rabbit ears and goat horns, googling eyes and swollen cheeks with puffy red lips - is in fact very old. It emerged the catwalk masks are vintage examples, some made 100 years ago, specially sourced for the show. To the antique shops, anyone?