Backstage stories, backstage snippets – these have taken center stage at Paris Fashion Week now that the stage is gone, so to speak. Instead, July’s haute couture and menswear shows have gone digital this season. Wasn’t fashion better for it?
It’s hard to say they weren’t, given the myriad ways creators have thought outside the box (or, in Jonathan Anderson’s case, inside the box) to present their. new collections. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to get rid of distractions like celebrities and influencers, with full emphasis on clothes.
Of course, there have been a few key omissions this menswear season. Louis Vuitton, run by Virgil Abloh, simply released a wacky animated video that hints at an upcoming show. Dries Van Noten, pleading for reform of the fashion industry, has been absent this season. Saint Laurent too.
Either way, those who stayed put on quite a spectacle. Below, we’ve listed the highlights of Paris Men’s Fashion Week.
If you’ve seen “Birdman”, it will be easy to understand the live performance of Hermès presented in lieu of a fashion show. It’s “performance” in the theatrical sense of the term: Cyril Teste was the director, the set was backstage at a fashion show, and the cast was made up of designer Hermès Véronique Nichanian, her team and mannequins. Like “Birdman,” the result is a (seemingly) one-take movie that places Nichanian’s casual menswear collection in unexpected context – and stellar results.
Like Hermès, Rick Owens has also become a meta for Paris Fashion Week. This applies both to his collection – several pieces have been reworked from past seasons – and to the film he used to present it. The latter was shot in surveillance mode in Owens’ Paris studio, as he styled and outfitted his muse Tyrone Dylan Susman (a blonde Rick Owens, if you will) in his new collection. The entire intimate session revealed not only the musical tastes of the creator (English goth rock band Alien Sex Fiend was the soundtrack) but also his process for realizing his offbeat vision.
After doing wonders for his eponymous label, Jonathan Anderson ran with his “show-in-the-box” idea for his presentation of Loewe menswear. This is Marcel Duchamp’s Boîte-en-valise, a box in which the Dadaist kept reproductions of his works.
Loewe’s take was filled with paraphernalia from an imaginary fashion show instead, including a pop-up show set, fabric samples, paper models, and a vinyl of the show’s soundtrack, to play with the cardboard turntable provided. The whole approach is very practical, which makes sense given that Loewe is all about craftsmanship. It also makes for the most interesting unboxing video you’ve ever seen.
Walter Van Beirendonck
Like Loewe, Dior, and all those couturiers who pored over the concept of the Fashion Theater, Walter Van Beirendonck showed us that a miniature collection can be as fascinating as a full-size collection. Especially if you dress the eccentric mirrored pieces by designer Antwerp Six on the alien dolls made by artist Eli Effenberger. The collection is just the right amount of odd and portable – the latter being a quality not often applied to Van Beirendonck’s work. “For me, this is the time to focus on reality,” he explained. For all other times, it might be a good idea that our conceptions of reality are very different.
Yohji Yamamoto is not here to surprise or shock. The man likes to be in the shade, in the background, even on the blues soundtrack of the short film presenting his SS21 men’s collection. The designs themselves are classic Yohji – draped, dark, and poetic – but they’ve been given cinematic quality through the lens of fashion photographer Takay. (You’d believe it if these were costumes for a Takeshi Kitano movie, which Yamamoto had previously designed).
Like her voice, Yamamoto’s collection is loaded with mood. And like at Couture Week, there’s even a touch of surrealism, with some coats with eye-shaped buttons. “With my eyes on the past, I walk backwards to the future,” the designer once wrote prophetically.
This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore.
(Main and featured image: Loewe)