Fashion & Style: We could be heroes

Military style came marching down the Paris catwalks this week. Even Napoleon was there.

This season's military theme was immediately apparent with Sonia Rykiel's menswear collection in Paris, softened though it was with dandy- ish bow ties. The velvet jackets had army-issue patch pockets, and even a flash of electric-blue sequins on a leather belt seemed regimental. There were Savile Row-style houndstooth suits with carnation buttonholes and little striped scarves, and signature black sweaters with horizontal Liquorice Allsorts stripes - but worn with tweed sports jackets and distressed jeans, rather than the tight disco pants and white patent shoes of yesteryear. Rykiel also featured another of this year's big themes - that horrible New Romantic bootie, which flops around the ankle.

Traditionally, fashion shows end with evening wear. But Naoki Takizawa at Issey Miyake started back-to-front with tailored evening suits with blobs of cream-coloured stitching on the seams. Austere yet idiosyncratic, they set the tone for a collection of high-end tailoring juxtaposed with jarring details - rosettes on the belts and lapels, and yet more high- visibility seams. Again, trench coats and belted patch-pocket jackets reinforced the military feel, with khaki trousers laced down the front. Subtle styling created an underlying sense of melancholy. Verdict: convalescent war poet.

Newcomer Gilles Rosier delivered an impressive debut show on a catwalk of black soil at l'Espace Topographique, mixing sleek suede and leather jeans with enormous chunky knit cardigans in mottled wools. His high-collared bomber jackets and cashmere pants made good use of discreet, detailed stitching around the pockets. The collection was overtly martial, featuring Kevlar body armour and riding boots. DJ Michel Gaubert's soundtrack was equally sharp and focused, suggesting but never quite resorting to military marching music.

For fun, I wrote the John Galliano review before the show. "Cartoon pirates in scary wigs with Chaplinesque shoes, greasy semi-naked hustler types with lashings of eyeliner. Lots of fur and beading, couture tailoring, logo-festooned accessories," I predicted. "Bombastic finale, John takes a five-minute bow." Which only proves how wrong you can be, because actually it was more like 10.

Newcomer Stephan Schneider showed a low-key collection at the Belgian embassy, full of muddy, oily colours and cosy fabrics. Despite some fussy details - such as belted hemline jackets - overall there was something deeply comforting about his work, especially the grey chenille pea coat and shawl-neck sweaters.

Elsewhere, Yohji Yamamoto took the military vibe and gave it a jazzy and typically cerebral feel. His wool cashmere coats had fuzzy geometric patterns in shades of tan, rust, and burnt umber, and discreet daubs of cream paint - as if a painter had absent-mindedly picked up the garment before cleaning his hands. Sounds odd, but it worked. And I love the way Yohji is still pushing that skirt-over-pants look, yet with a sober formalism. Lesser talents lapse into self-conscious cross-dressing; Yohji's guys have the gravitas and elegance of urban samurai.

Unique in avoiding any hint of militarism, Sir Paul Smith showed a rock'n'roll inspired collection that paid homage to all things louche and Lizard King, with a soundtrack reminiscent of the late John Peel. There were python- skin jeans, a chocolate brown ponyskin coat, a sleek oxblood pony jacket. This was a menagerie of cheetah, leopard and zebra prints, with lashings of real furs and skins thrown in for good measure. The British rocker edge was emphasised by belts with Triumph buckles from motorcycle fuel tanks, and riveted black leather bags with the logo painted in white, in a nod to the traditional biker jacket. Not a belted trenchcoat or Nazi- style ski coat in sight. Rocky, but utterly romantic.

I take it all back. Every unkind word. Because at Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs proved that he can design beautiful clothes for men. The silver- grey ponyskin car coat? Fantastic. The deep black cashmere pea coat with naval braiding? Delicious. The belted ostrich military jacket with patch pockets, the silver astrakhan frock coat, the velvet jeans, the ostrich boots, the silk raincoat? Yes, please. Perhaps the military undercurrent has instilled a discipline in Jacobs' work, because this was a tight, powerful and restrained collection of elegant luxury menswear.

Equally impressive was Veronique Nichanian's strong, sexy and deceptively complex work for Hermes. No ponyskin here but lots of subtle and original treatments, like the mahogany calfskin coat with an oversized Prince of Wales check applied by laser treatment. As usual, Nichanian's technical mastery shone through a collection of exquisite luxury garments built from the simplest elements: straight lines and small volumes (think luxury meets Mod), a handful of colours (burnt orange, mahogany, sulphur, black), and distorted patterns (micro- and macro- Prince of Wales and houndstooth). The muted shades were contrasted with flashes of patent crocodile belts in electric turquoise, fuchsia and acid yellow, styled with typical insouciance by her collaborator Mark Morrison.

A declaration of interest. Last year I was paid handsomely to write a book on Dries Van Noten's first 50 fashion shows, so my assertion that he is essentially an artist who works in fashion, rather than a designer, should be taken with a pinch of salt. That said, this was a distinctly arty and undoubtedly brave show. A single shaft of cinematic white light formed the catwalk. No music. Cigarette-smoking models with the air of decadent 1930s Oxbridge students walked slowly to the sound of the novelist Paul Auster and his wife reading from one of his works. "It was a miracle, a genuine miracle," intoned Auster, as a procession of muted tweeds and felted wools passed by, enlivened by occasional exotics: snakeskin loafers, richly coloured ties, a single scarlet blazer. Some found it pretentious. I found it curiously moving.

Heralded last season as the Great White Hope of British fashion, Kim Jones produced a confident, upbeat collection of casual separates - tracksuits and blouson jackets, macs and sweatshirts - with a high-toned colour palette of white, pale lilac, mint, duck-egg blue, scarlet, petrol and putty. It was bold, young, camp and very commercial. But here the use of cashmere, suede, and alpaca took his fresh style to a luxury level. It was no surprise to find the New York designer-consultant-stylist Andre Walker, an acknowledged expert on menswear fabrics, adding the finishing touches backstage. "I wanted to use brighter colours than you traditionally find in winter menswear," said Jones. "Dark winter clothes are depressing."

I have the seen the future of rock'n'roll, and its name is Hedi Slimane. At Dior Homme, he produced the spectacle of the season. To a bespoke track by the young rock gods Razorlight, he sent out an army of strutting teenage Steve Tylers, all flouncy locks and cocky looks, with sequinned eyelids and knitted scarves tumbling down to cuban-heeled gold lame boots. This was rock'n'roll glam to the power of 10, a long, lean 1970s silhouette with lashings of sheen and sparkle. But amid the glare I saw dusty pink cords, floor-length hooded cardigans and killer black wool pique coats. The finale featured eight Adonis-like drummers atop 30ft gantries, beating out a thundering rock backbeat on black Gretsch drum kits, while a phalanx of androgynous gender warriors stormed the catwalk. If Slimane put together enough material for an album, the tour would be a guaranteed sell-out.

DIOR HOMME

ISSEY MIYAKE

RYKIEL HOMME

DRIES VAN NOTEN

JOHN GALLIANO

HERMES

YOHJI YAMAMOTO

Arts and Entertainment

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade

radio
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?