THE MENSWEAR trade gets mighty bored watching vain male models preening themselves on the catwalks, so everyone is happy about the latest trend: designers showing womenswear alongside their menswear. Dirk Bikkembergs, the Belgian designer, launched his first women's collection in Paris, reproducing his young, sexy clothes (fitted knitwear, body-sculpted leather) in sizes that fit women's bodies. Paul Smith, who dressed Linda Evangelista in menswear a few seasons back, is also launching a womenswear collection shortly. Claude Montana, considerably better known for his womenswear than his menswear, joined in the fun last week, strolling down the catwalk arm-in-arm with Kristen McMenamy, the boyish supermodel of the moment.
NEW menswear labels are rare in these tough economic times. Praise be, then, to So, a new collection that will be stocked by Browns, Harrods and Joseph from next winter. So is from Holland and designed by Alexander van Slobbe. Expect Gigli-inspired unstructured wool-tweed jackets and simple, well-shaped knitwear in subdued colours.
PAUL SMITH became the first British menswear designer in modern times to open a shop in Europe. The store, at 22 boulevard Raspail, has a characteristically wicked design feature, which embarrassed a stream of guests at last week's opening party. Mr Smith had apparently slipped a pounds 20 note on to the floor of one of the changing rooms, encouraging his far-from-penniless customers to try to pick it up. But it is painted on the floor. There will be many more red faces among customers over coming months.
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