John Galliano sent out the most manly collection of the ongoing Paris fall-winter menswear shows on Friday with a testosterone-charged hommage to Russian ballet star Rudolf Nureyev.
Creating a Siberian landscape in the Cordeliers Convent on the Left Bank, Galliano weaved a story of strong bearded men in layers of wool, leather and shearling, marching with determination as if through a Siberian snow storm.
They made way for slim, tailored silhouettes drawn from photographs of the impulsive Nureyev, who famously defected from the Soviet Union in June 1961 and mingled with the jetset of his times while dazzling audiences with his art.
Over ballet tights with anatomically unlikely bulges at the crotch went chunky cardigans, puffa jackets and cotton jerseys, recalling Nureyev in the rehearsal studio. Brown cossack boots completed the look.
Galliano himself indulged in rock-star glamour at the close of the show, playfully shaking snowflakes off his extravagant fur hat as he strutted down the runway with a bodyguard at his heels.
Earlier in the day, there was no denying Walter Van Beirendonck's taste for the avant-garde as the affable bearded Belgian challenged menswear conventions with an art-gallery show where the only thing black were the models.
Winding their way through the seated spectators, they strode gracefully in jackets, capes and relaxed trousers in a welcome rainbow of pastel colours, complemented with oxfords in turquoise and orange.
Easily the crowd favourite was a fully-fringed poncho in a riot of colours over a pair of patchwork trousers. "It's hot inside, but you feel at ease in it," the model assigned to wear it, Darouda, told AFP afterwards.
Backstage, Van Bierendonck - one of the Antwerp Six in the 1980s that notably included Dries Van Noten - acknowledged that his latest work is more positive, tailored and "definitely more peaceful".
One defining factor, he said, was Mayan culture and the end of the current 144,000-day Mayan calender cycle on December 21, 2012 - hence his T-shirt of choice on Friday that declared: "Something big is coming."
Equally experimental was Brazilian-born Gustavo Lins, alias Gustavolins, who draws on his training as an architect to deconstruct and redefine the traditional rules of tailoring in both men's and women's wear.
The occasional red sweater added a dash of a colour to a soft-shouldered collection otherwise dominated by black and slate gray. In one instance, the full-length overcoat was given the silhouette of a cozy bathrobe.
Falling by the wayside was the notched lapel. Barring the jacket he wore himself at the end of the show, Gustavolins simply excluded it from virtually all of the pieces he sent out, opting for notchless shawl lapels instead.
Tatsuro Horikawa, the brains behind the Julius label, took the 18th-century Left Bank surroundings of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, pumped in some smoke, and sent out a collection that suggested how men could dress in the 23rd century.
Layers were draped over layers, transported by workboots as supple as slippers, giving the show - set to a percussive soundtrack - an extra-terrestial feel.
One eye-catching detail was broad silver torques reminiscent of the neck rings favoured by the ancient Celts, though it could take a couple of centuries for such man jewellery to make a sweeping comeback.
Predictably more accessible was Cerutti, which sought to marry fine tailoring with details borrowed from motorcycle outerwear, with padded-knee trousers and three-quarter length coats with leather biker-jacket cuffs.
Over at Agnes B., the crowd-pleaser in a vaguely Edwardian collection spiced with broad half-length ties was a reversible suit jacket - black and business-like on one side, with a shimmering club-ready print on the other.