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Menswear Paris 2016

by Bernardo van Eekhout in Lifestyle & Fashion , 20 mei 2016

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

The current practice of catwalk presentations that take place over six months prior to the season seems to be on its way out. The men’s collections for the summer of 2016 were shown as early as June/July 2015. The popularity of social media has made the consumer impatient. After the presentation of the collections, they now want to buy the garments immediately. Many brands capitalize on this by putting their garments for sale on the web immediately after presentation.

Donatella Versace: “The Internet and social media have changed everything, and the old system is collapsing. This new generation grew up with the Internet and does not understand why it has to wait six months to buy what it saw online. It is a total revolution in fashion. It feels like an immense movement that will change everything in the fashion industry.”

As early as 2014, Versace made her collections immediately available online to satisfy this “consumer hunger.” Burberry and Loewe followed suit, but some brands take it even further. Burberry will no longer do four catwalk shows a year, but will organize two shows in a different format. As of September 2016, Burberry will present the collections in February and September under the names “February” and “September.” The shows will present both menswear and womenswear and are seasonless. After the show, the collections will become available immediately in their stores and on the web shop.

With this new “see-now/buy-now collection model” Burberry wants to bridge the traditional gap between the fashion shows and retail. This new strategy makes the traditional seasons superfluous, with Burberry’s cards now on seasonless collections. This will make it a lot harder for “copycat” fashion chains to capitalize on future trends.

Tom Ford has also announced to make the transition to the “see-now/buy-now system.” His collection will become available directly after the catwalk show in September. According to Ford, “The world has become more direct. The current method of presenting a collection that only becomes available months after the show, has become old-fashioned in the eyes of the consumer, and has outlived its usefulness. Our current customers want the collection to become available immediately.”

Tommy Hilfiger will also synchronize the catwalk shows with the retail calendar as of September, making his collection available in shops directly after the show. At the moment, web sales of luxury products are about six percent of total sales, but it is expected that this figure will rise to eighteen percent in 2025, to an amount of seventy billion Euros. These online purchases are mostly influenced by blogs, newsletters and social media. Incidentally, men purchase online more often than women, and also spend more money when doing so.

French History

Now that Kris Van Assche has discontinued his own fashion label, he now has the time to focus on the Dior Homme collections as creative director. Van Assche is modernizing the boring and grey men’s suit with various silver zippers on blazers (a jumble of them at chest height), and trousers with many stitched-on pockets, with climbing shoes with zippers as footwear. Van Assche: “It is light to wear during the day, relaxed, for casual Friday, but with the same elegance.” The bomber jacket with pink orange (fake?) crocodile leather is beautiful, but in spite of the extremely young models, the mostly knitted spencers/polo shirts (often with Argyle plaids) and oversized blazers look a bit elderly, not modern in terms of proportions, and démodé. Not Van Assche’s best. Recently Dior opened a new Dior Homme flagship store of 34,444 square feet in Paris, and other Dior Homme shops will open in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and London.

One of the better collections is from the 102-year-old fashion house Balmain. It is the début show for Olivier Rousteing, who has ruled Balmain since 2011. The show is opened by the famous American model Sean O’Pry (the face of the Viktor&Rolf scent Spicebomb) in extravagant cargo Bermudas with stitched-on pockets and zippers with matching safari jackets and draped sleeveless halter tops.

With matching XL shoulder bags and openwork climbing shoes looking like gladiator sandals. All in natural colors, and with female models on the catwalk. Rousteing: “This is my first show for men, as forty percent of sales at Balmain are from men’s fashion. I wondered about the story I wanted to tell. The Balmain male is a man entering the desert. He wants to discover the world and isn’t afraid of the horizon, of the unknown. Just like me, these strong men want to discover the world traveling, looking for different treasures.”

Besides the luxurious safari outfits, he offers beautiful and richly detailed jackets for men, at times completely woven from rope or richly decorated with various lacing and golden buttons. The classic motor jacket is there as well, but now entirely in braided leather, something that does emphasize the craftsmanship of this French fashion house. But the true show stopper is the men’s top, entirely out of golden necklaces and black gem stones. It has the wealth of early Versace collections.

According to Rousteing, “The Balmain man is capable of wearing unique outfits, for instance couture items.” The annual turnover of Balmain is around thirty million Euros. And yes, the Balmain collections are also available online.

Oriental Surrealism

When it comes to show-pieces within the European luxury goods industry, Chanel, Cartier, Hermès and Louis Vuitton are the brand names. As Louis Vuitton generates over thirty percent of its revenue in Asia, it should not come as a surprise that the men’s collection is clearly focusing on the Far East, it is a collection that is interspersed with Eastern influences. Shiny silk shirts and satin American baseball jackets and sweaters with rich embroidered prints of paradisaical birds, dragons, panthers and exotic flowers. Of some of the shirts only fifty will be made world-wide.

And everything is light as a feather. “I wanted the collection to be summery and happy,” creative director Kim Jones notes. “The prints are from all over the world, for instance China, Japan, and Indonesia. This year, I visited over fifty countries and I gathered everything I saw in this collection. It is a traveler’s collection, as that’s what Louis Vuitton stands for.”

As styling, the models wear printed silk scarves around the neck, with Louis Vuitton printed on them as text, spacious XL rucksacks, and high white sneakers with L.V. print. The camouflage prints used by Jones are already available at various fast fashion chains.

The demand for Louis Vuitton bags is strongest in China, but to prevent overexposure, Louis Vuitton is closing a number of shops there. Burberry closed four, Armani five, and Prada went from forty-nine to thirty-three stores. Yet, China remains an important market with its second largest economy world-wide. The Chinese consumers are responsible for one third of all sales in luxury products worldwide. However, approximately forty-six percent of these consumers make their purchases in Europe, as prices are lower in Europe in comparison with their home country. Opening up stores in China has stopped being a priority for most luxury brands because of this. Web sales are becoming increasingly important - in the period 2013-2020, forty percent of all luxury purchases will be done online. And by now, China has surpassed the USA in web sales.

In his sprint/summer collection, the Belgian designer Dries Van Noten gives a taste of the men’s silhouette for next winter: supersized. This translates in beautiful super wide trousers and wide Bermudas with tightened waistbands.

They are especially suitable for tall men, as it makes them visually shorter. The collection’s common thread is the Marilyn Monroe print that is mostly printed in black-and-white on shirts, tank tops, Bermudas, bomber jacks, and costumes. Not always equally successful.

Van Noten also combines elements of surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, for instance shiny red lobster appliques on black sweaters or loose-fitting blazers. Van Noten: “The idea was Marilyn Monroe meets Salvador Dalí. Incidentally, they have actually met once. For that matter, Monroe’s photo prints were rather complicated to make, and Dalí was a true punk in my eyes. The leopard print refers to Elsa Schiaparelli, who worked with Dalí. The wide trousers with high waistbands are a tribute to the 1950s.”

Fashion Religion

Religion is not only the pillar of entire civilizations, but often also serves as the common threat in the Givenchy collections. Italian creative director Riccardo Tisci takes full advantage of this theme. For ten years now, he is at the head of chic fashion house Givenchy, which has been severely modernized under his rule. This time, he has placed the suffering head of Jesus with wreath of roses, or hanging on the cross as black-and-white print on (oversized) T-shirts, black sweaters and as appliqué on breast pockets. But also on short men’s skirts (mostly in tricot) we can see Jesus’s image. Since Gaultier has left the fashion theater, Tisci has not shied away from promoting the men’s skirt at every occasion. Tisci: “The tricot men’s skirts are like sweaters tied around the hips.”

Divine is the faded Jesus print on stiff black, white bleached and indigo blue denim that strongly reminds us of American “workwear.” It looks like prison clothes. “Jesus Christ is the most famous prisoner of all times and an icon for many inmates. That is why I chose him as a source of inspiration.” For the more secular among us there are nicely cut ultra-masculine black-and-white pinstriped suites (also in virgin white) and tough bomber jacks. Large silver prison keys are used as dangling chains.

Also in this show, ten female models were dressed in Givenchy couture, with Naomi Campbell as the star model. By using female models in men’s shows they clearly want to demonstrate the link between both genders. This is also called “gender fluidity.” In many areas, the differences between men and women are increasingly vague. Some religions could take that as an example.



In the New Issue of Gay News, 322, June 2018

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