Menswear designer warms to Paris debut

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The Independent Online

British menswear designers are making their mark in Paris this week, with four designers showing their collections for spring/summer 1996. Katharine Hamnett showed her menswear in Milan last week.

Joining Paul Smith, who is celebrating 25 years in fashion this year, are Griffin Laundry, Dublin-based John Rocha, and Ozwald Boateng with his Bespoke Couture collection.

The strangely named Griffin Laundry opened the week of menswear collections on Monday with its debut catwalk show. The label, designed by Jeff Griffin, a graduate from St Martin's School of Art, is now in its fifth season and already sells to Harrods, and Liberty in London as well as stores in Milan, New York and Japan.

As well as comfort and a lived in look, the range provides protection against the elements. Jeff Griffin is not optimistic about the future effects of global warming - industrial work wear shapes come in fabrics designed to apparently withstand temperatures of up to 350C (662F). Pollution masks and surgical rubber gloves were worn as accessories; sealed inside the invitation to the show was a surgical mask for anyone paranoid about the spread of germs. Griffin Laundry's clothes are inspired by army and work wear. They range from extra extra large shorts to the now ubiquitous fatigue trousers, crumpled suits and canvas jackets with Velcro fastenings and roomy pockets.

Yesterday, John Rocha showed his second menswear collection on the Paris runways. The designer who introduced menswear in 1993, is emerging as one of the strongest names to watch. The collection, called Black and Green, mixes Celtic and Caribbean influences with a whole spectrum of checks, apple green suede jackets, and red, gold and green stripes.

Rocha eschews gimmicks that often make men's clothes look over designed, concentrating instead on outfits that will not make the wearer look like a homo-erotic fantasy.