Final day of Paris Menswear Digital: Soon to be a major motion picture
Abbie Hoffmann named his revealing autobiography of political agitation in the 1960s 'Soon to be A Major Motion Picture,' a good title for the last day of the debut Paris Menswear season on Monday.
An entirely online experience, due the pandemic, the season ended up being as much a festival of indie filmmakers and mini showreels for young directors as it was an actual fashion week. Then again, that was not such a bad thing, provided one is certain that the next fashion seasons will feature actual runway shows. All the chatter pre-season predicting that the world’s great fashion weeks in London, Milan, New York and Paris will all take place on the web in future turned out to be a lot of hot air. It’s very fundamental -- fashion needs to be experienced live. Period.
The day began with Lanvin, whose video was named Le Palais Idéal, and shot in a bizarre grotto created by naïve artist Ferdinand Cheval. A postman inspired by postcards of the Paris Expositions of his era, Cheval built the structure over 40 years with his own hands. Hyper stylized architecture inspired by everything from a Bavarian castle to a Rajasthan palace, with oddly gritty comical statues of Cesar, Vercingetorix and Archimedes.
An ideal setting for this powerful co-ed collection that included pale blue '60s lapel-free jackets; Mod reefer coats; Battleship Potemkin sailor’s blouses for guys and great frilly polka dot dresses; kimono cable knits; Juliette Greco existentialist leather trenches for gals. Adding to the drama, the house’s creative director even proposed a Cat Bag, inspired by the chimney by Alvar Aalto’s Art Deco fireplace for Jeanne Lanvin, with an enamel hand with crystal details.
“I want Lanvin to incarnate a more dramatic and cinematic version of each person. Being the character of your dreams,” explained Sialelli, a Marseille-born creator creating in Paris, in an interview with the new fashionista of Canal + Camille Charrière. One of a half dozen by the completely bilingual Charrière that appeared on the smartly revamped web platform of the Chambre Syndicale de la Mode Masculine, which oversees the menswear season in Paris.
Asked what he most missed during lockdown, Sialelli replied: "Dancing and dance moves… I think it’s important to not over intellectualize the creative process.”
All told, there were 18 events on Monday, out of a total of 67 brands on the official calendar.
Bored youth looking beautiful at We11done, the Korean street wear label. Arguably the season’s strongest cast – all lying around a retro modernist loft that looked culled from a photoshoot in Wallpaper*. In Hugh Hefner pyjamas and oversized Percy Shelley blouses for guys; and giant sleeved crisp wool coats and Mary Quant frocks for gals. Plus, it had the single best image of the season – a golden eagle incongruously perched on a nest of a dozen red security cameras.
A mock trailer from Phipps, “coming next spring,” as the cast lived out the fantasy of appearing in an actual motion picture entitled 'Spirit of Freedom.' Set in today’s Wild West with John Ford landscapes and David Lynch dive bars, the first line is a wonderfully deadpan. “Have you seen Phipps?” one tenderfoot youth asks a gnarly old timer. Responds the gravel-voiced narrator: “But how do you find a man who doesn’t want to be found?” The clothes felt secondary but were still pretty darn good – stars and stripes cowboy shirts; tough-guy windowpane-check coats and tremendous wild cat-print tops, seen before enormous vistas. If only Henry Hathaway had had a drone…
In a technologically driven season the brand that best used technology was probably White Mountaineering, with their Cad Cam cutting opening: techy telephoto lens images; industrial soundtrack and cast of models marching at angles to the viewer. Which made it easy to admire the voluptuously cut three-piece suits; fluid cabans: multi-zip parkas and tough chic fly fisherman vests. Pretty well everything in black, and pretty well everything hyper wearable. Commercial, calculated and cunning in the best possible sense of those terms. A top-notch display by designer Yosuke Aizawa and full marks to Daito Manabe for the movie direction.
All shows are available for viewing on fhcm.com, the swish new platform of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, French fashion’s governing body. And many come in the Vimeo format, like a moody tale by Palomo Spain, the conceptual couturier, whose Spanish-language clip, Rehearsal, was way too dark and overly long. His bar jacket meets Costa del Sol playboy in black and white check and sizzling black silk suits did have plenty of punch. But compared to his often-brilliant installations inside the Spanish embassy of Paris during the women’s season this felt like small potatoes, or rather tiny croquetas.
Dunhill’s choice was a “public information film” with archive footage from a 1970s ad; with runway footage of recent shows to provide a little tongue in cheek branding. Which felt, well, rather lazy.
Finally, even given that it was a spring-summer season, one has rarely seen so much skin in a fashion week. Like at Ludovic de Saint Sernin, which was essentially one dude in a white leather zippered jockstrap swimming trunks scooping another young lad on a pebbly beach.
Or, for instance at Thom Browne, where his video was of a demi-clad black gentleman, the self-recorded singer Moses Sumney, wearing just a white sequined sarong and earphones. Hard to form much of an opinion about this collection, but one could easily speculate about Thom Browne’s future cinematic plans.
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