DESIGNERS in Paris understand that the veneer of civilisation that separates men from the beasts is thin indeed. Caveman chic was a look running through many autumn catwalk shows, an apparent homage to a time when our ancestors ate raw meat, wore sheepskin rags and left their hair long and greasy. Leather trousers, Afghan coats and sheepskin waistcoats are de rigueur. This look may not catch on in the high street, but for a certain type of man who spends weekends clubbing or raving, it is very heaven.

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.

(Photographs omitted)