Top menswear designers mix cheeky with elegant

The new collections from Dior, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Kenzo and Louis Vuitton at men's fashion week in Paris showed strong trends in cheeky post-crisis optimism tempered by understated elegance.

"We're sick of the crisis. We want to have some fun!" said cutting-edge Belgian Kris Van Assche during the four-day event that wrapped up Sunday.

But the artistic director for Dior Homme, who also runs his own label, was not calling for a carefree revival of glamour.

Van Assche's aim with his own collection was "to embellish everyday life," he said, and his muse was "the man on the street," who "gets his hands dirty."

At the heart of British showman John Galliano's spring-summer line were some famous everymen and street heroes from the silent cinema era.

Evoking the familiar silhouettes of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, men in black wigs and fake moustaches walked down the runway in over-sized clown shoes dwarfed by a huge clock in the background as a wink to the classic films.

Galliano suggested workmanship and style could combine as he dressed Keaton up in a dazzling double-breasted white tailoured suit, silk tie, thin leather belt and added a discreet veil to his straw hat.

For Lanvin, the house run by American-Israeli Alber Elbaz and designed by Dutchman Lucas Ossendrijver, ballroom smart was out, and practical travel gear made graceful.

"The clothes are classic, you can wear them anywhere. We didn't show a single tuxedo this time," Elbaz pointed out.

Their suits were appropriate "for meeting your girlfriend's parents," Elbaz explained after a display in the long wooden-floored and book-lined interior of Paris's Mineralogy Museum, located in the beautiful Jardin des Plantes.

The natural setting was fitting as the man at the heart of the collection was one on the move, a city worker who divided his time between the office and trips out in the wilderness.

From a palette of autumnal colours, there were tight, knit shorts, an array of strap bags and sporty sandals matched with a suit or smart, boot-leg trousers - hinting at the future footwear for city workers in summer.

The aim was a "fusion of active wear and formal wear," to create an "active elegance" that was the "antithesis of laziness."

While Elbaz also cited the ordinary as inspiring Lanvin's unique combination of colours, fabrics and cuts, he stressed the importance of adding a touch of distinction.

"We all have different desires and don't want to see ourselves cloned six months later on the street," he explained. To ensure the uniqueness of their designs, "we added details, details, details" to colour, fabric and cut.

With these strong trends of practicality and the everyday, designers have taken seriously the high street as a source not just of business, but also of creativity.

Collaborations continue to multiply between high fashion designers and commercial clothes brands, the latest including Stella McCartney's designs for sports brand Adidas and Sonia Rykiel's creations for H&M.

But the strong trend of understated elegance did not prevent designers from throwing in a little catwalk controversy and playfulness.

"It is liberation for men!" Elbaz and Ossendrijver said when asked about the necklaces of iron tusks, chains, black stones and wood.

"It is the first time we use jewellery," Elbaz said, admitting they had worried it might be vulgar, feminine or tacky.

But "when women wear pants," Ossendrijver said, "men can wear jewellery."

Belgium's Walter Van Beirendonck also covered some of his hairy, stout male models with luxurious necklaces of pearls, and Frenchman Alexis Mabille covered many of his men with daisy broaches.

Jean-Paul Gautier and John Galliano blurred the gender lines further by including a male model with a very female silhouette wearing skimpy black underwear on their catwalks.

Antonio Marras for Kenzo ignored the rule book out completely and included a half dozen women for his display held in an elegant school gymnasium.

News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

    Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

    Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

    £45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'