Paris Men’s Fashion Week for Spring Summer 2011 is praised by major international buyers

HERMES Spring Summer 2011

Cool is a ghetto. So Karl Lagerfeld lends his image to a bottle of Coke or is guest editor of the newspaper Libération, which saw a sales increase of 40 percent.

The Paris spring men’s shows, which ended on Sunday, retain a reputation for creative freedom, though there seems to be a lack of bold thinking. For some designers, the hook of a single idea worked. Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons reproduced the human skull as wallpaper prints on cotton, as mesh-embedded cutouts on the back of jackets, and as an inspiration for fake-leather blazers reduced to skeletal strips.

You imagine the thought process for a John Galliano show going something like, “Let’s do Charlie Chaplin and Luchino Visconti on the sands of the Lido!” The references are usually groaners — and it doesn’t much matter since the results come out the same. Still, this time, Mr. Galliano’s mix of undersize jackets and oversize pants — low in the crotch and at the waist and held up with suspenders — made a sharp impression.

You sensed a little of this problem at the shows, and it was not a pretty sight. Stefano Pilati, the Saint Laurent designer, reverted to a drowsy Paul Bowles sexuality, with delicate young men in even more delicate-looking knits and high-waist shorts that rippled over skinny legs. If you saw a guy with a little fez tipped over his brow, what would you think? How fast can he set up my chair by the pool?

I wanted to like Riccardo Tisci’s laces for the Givenchy man. I really did. There was something interesting about the mock Victorian elegance he seemed to be working, without the reliance on literal references. And there’s a footballer’s bulk to his silhouette, which is at least a consistent point of view for him. And I certainly have no gripe with his skirts, which are actually shorts with a flap in front. Shorts that suggest skirts were a trend of the collections. Rather, my problem with Mr. Tisci’s clothes is that his process seems too heavy-handed, without enough perspective and finesse that might make the results just a little more real.

At Louis Vuitton, where singers Keziah Jones and The Black Eyed Peas hogged front row seats, designer Paul Helbers threw out designs inspired by New York City’s bike messengers that were cut for functionality, with jackets short and trousers rolled up for protection.Sleeveless jackets, short jackets, waistcoats, low-slung pants and harem trousers were popular throughout the shows. Layering one’s clothes, with shirts, tunics or T-shirts poking out at different lengths below jackets, was also a regular theme.Pants came in all lengths and shapes, as shorts, bermudas, above the ankle to show the shoe, rolled up, slim and baggy – but large and comfortable trousers seemed the flavour of the day.

France’s whacky Jean Paul Gaultier put testosterone sailor-types in wide pants with gender-bending bustiers, Kenzo’s explorers wore wide rumpled trousers for the Africa sun and even legendary British designer John Galliano sent his Napoleon Bonaparte-inspired models out in loose trousers.

In fact, years of skinny-silhouette domination seemed over this week when the style-setting house of Dior, always one of the most closely-watched shows, went for large rather than slim. Men’s clothes, said Dior’s 33-year-old star Belgian designer, Kris Van Assche, need to be “more comfortable, soft and modern for today’s use.” Like others, Van Assche paraded wide fluid trousers worn with layers of tank tops and shirts and went for models with muscles and physique, rather than the sapling-thin often androgynous men favoured by his predecessor Hedi Slimane.

The look was fresh and slick, with lots of white especially in the collections of Raf Simons,Hermès, Ann Demeulemeester — added to the fresher look. Mr. Wooster also liked the trend of sleeveless jackets and tops; it was a big theme at Lanvin, Dior, Rick Owens and Mr. Simons, who opened with a sleeveless scubalike jacket zipped over full white cotton trousers.

Kim Jones sent out a fine collection for Dunhill, emphasizing a slim, fluid fit and subtle shadings of gray. All in all, I thought Véronique Nichanian of Hermès seemed the most relaxed of anybody. She had those whites and creams, the season’s new-new double-breasted jacket and a nice slacker vibe. Whatever troubles men today, it was of no concern to her.

from IHT and The Daily Telegraph