Couturiers showing no signs of fatigue in menswear finale

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Valentino's military theme and Haider Ackerman's opulence hit the Paris catwalks

Paris

The fashion circus has shifted once again, from Milan to Paris and the final round of the spring/summer 2014 menswear shows. It feels appropriate for the house of Valentino to open proceedings, not because they bridge the two nations – although as Italians who show in Paris they're a neat fusion – but because they epitomise a certain shift in aesthetic. There's a touch of couture to what they do, for men as well as women.

For next season, the Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli referenced "the subversive rigour of the uniform". That meant fatigue styles of navy denim, khaki and olive-drab cottons, and camouflage paradoxically designed to get you noticed. It wasn't especially subversive, but it was desirable, if a touch derivative at times. That was, oddly, part of its charm: the way Chiuri and Piccioli managed to synthesise elements that cropped up in other collections – like the flat-folded envelope bags banded in fluoro, contrast banded strips on suiting and Milan's prevalent palette of indigo – and twist them into something that looked fresh. Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue, like the matching his 'n' hers navy tuxes the duo took their bows in.

His 'n' hers is an idea Haider Ackermann always takes to heart – when he showed his first looks for men as a one-off in Florence in 2011, they trod out in peacock-feather embroidered slippers draped in brocaded kimonos.

In his first menswear presentation on the Paris schedule, Ackermann stuck close to his well-established modus operandi, satin obi-folded around the hip, dandyish fringed scarves and silk jacquards in Renaissance tones. Those colours – amethyst, chartreuse and a cloudy tourmaline – were the standouts, especially in a menswear season where boys wear little other than blue, although Ackermann nailed that with a succulent sapphire kimono-coat. The criticism? Squint your eyes and any of Ackermann's models could have been Tilda Swinton, an ardent Ackermann fan. Blurring genders is fine, but you hoped, from a talent like his, for a menswear aesthetic more clearly defined.

There are few menswear aesthetics as clearly defined as Raf Simons', who now shows his menswear on the first day of Paris to create the greatest distance between this presentation and his haute couture for Christian Dior, to be unveiled on Monday.

Simons' collection was relentlessly young, torsos elongated above spindly legs in the briefest of shorts, oversized multicoloured trainers an echo of the pumping dance anthems roaring out. The graphic designer Peter Saville, a Simons collaborator in the front row, would recognise the excitement of the Nineties' Hacienda days leaping from oversized shirts emblazoned with almost-nonsensical statements.

That all sounds brave and different from the rest of the season's menswear. It is. There was a striking sense of the exciting and new here, something exhilarating that will push fashion forward. Nothing old, or borrowed, or blue.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

    £13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

    Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

    £19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future