Rick Owens introduced colour, Louis Vuitton had a marching band, Yamamoto kept dressing in black and Dries Van Noten works his magic with clashing patterns at Paris Men’s Fashion Week.
With countless fashion shows at the menswear fashion week for SS23, it’s easy to loose track of what has happened, especially with such big names walking the runway on a daily basis. Here’s what went on at Rick Owens, LV, Yamamoto and Dries Van Noten at Paris Men’s Fashion Week.
Rick Owens and The Appearance of Colour
Watching Rick Owens at Paris Men’s Fashion Week was the equivalent of having front row seats to the gates of hell (in the best, most exciting, possible way).
The designer set the runway with the Palais de Tokyo as a backdrop, models walking down the set of stairs under a smoking fireball. We kid you not.
The first model to walk down the runway is Rick Owen’s favourite.
Tyrone Dylan (@tyrone_dylan) has long blonde hair and a naked torso, which at this point seems to be a running favourite in Paris so far. He walks to a cryptic beat in some extra long translucent white trousers, which crumple at the models feet.
Much like last season, the beginning of the show features a lot of whites, blacks and nudes, exhibited with a lot of de-constructed tailoring, wide shoulders and many long fits which are often pinched at the waist. The show, named after the falcon god Horus of Behdet, Edfu, feels otherworldly, as Rick Owens often does.
Inspiration for the show comes after Owen’s trip to Egypt, where he found comfort in the remoteness and historical scale of the ancient civilisation. His pieces for Paris reflect the stoic permanence of Egyptian temples; started by one civilisation, finished by another and re-discovered later down the line.
As the designer himself claims, his designs aim to re-establish some order, something which Owens considers necessary after all the war and stone-throwing happening these days.
By look 30 we start seeing a version of the designer we are not yet entirely used to; colours.
It seeps into the runway through metallic shades of green and blue and evolves into bright animal prints and hot-pink translucent fabric.
The appearance of colour, however, is brief, and we’re soon back to the many version of black that has always been Rick Owen’s staple, only for colour to make one final appearance with some kitsch hot pink and yellow looks at the very end. There’s a lot of asymmetric tailoring, overlaid fabric and some silk chiffon coverings.
In terms of materials, we also come across pirarucú, a skin Owens apparently uses over and over again in his designs. Fished as a food source in the Amazon, said skin is sold as waste products and is a source of income generation for indigenous communities.
Rick Owens’ appearance at the end is brief. He practically merges into the models themselves, with his long hair and broad shoulder tailoring, which are both runway-worthy in themselves.
Unlike his models, however, he does not attempt to walk down the Palais de Tokyo stairs; probably a sensible move considering he’s wearing some impressive kiss-heel boots.
Louis Vuitton and the Yellow Runway
The runway for Louis Vuitton’s SS23 for the Paris Men’s Fashion week show is long and yellow. Very long, and very yellow, we might add. Set in one of the Louvre’s courtyards, the show begins with an unlikely performance; there are people waving flags and the Marching 100, a Tallahassee marching band, looks just as cheerful as the oversized red balloons scattered around the courtyard.
As the first model walks in, the music changes to a classical piece which merges into a live performance by Kendrick Lamar as a tribute to Virgil Abloh. The first model is styled in a light blue-grey suit with flowery buttons and spike-cut edges. In fact, a large portion of the first looks is styled in that blueish grey colour, often featuring some flower pattern to compliment the looks.
Look 15 comes in as a surprise. No longer abiding by the serene and calm colour palette, Vuitton opts to disrupt in a black and green leather co-ord which buttons down the middle in a curved line.
The outfit, a lot more street-style than what came before, is styled with some chunky green trainers and cat-eye sunglasses.
This cues a disruption of the runway’s serenity, and Louis Vuitton starts to bring the playful nature of the long race-track-inspired runway into its looks. A touch of cheerfulness is introduced through toy-like suitcases and paper planes stuck to a black suit. Children-inspired beads decorate the quirky hats and bags the models are showcasing and there’s a lot of cartoon figures plastered onto the outfits.
As the show comes to a close, models re-walk the runway carrying the large rainbow-coloured piece of fabric that adorned the runway back in the 2018 Virgil show.
In fact, the whole collection seems to have taken on Virgil’s idea of playfulness; referenced even down to the very invite of the show itself. As Kendrick Lamar put it; Long live Virgil.
Yamamoto Sticks to What he Knows: Black
Yamamoto went for a digital showcase this year, filming an intimate runway where the models get up-close and personal to the camera to the sound of experimental music. The dark shots, the music and the streaked white hair of the models evoke an indie horror movie turned avant-garde luxury fashion house.
The Yamamoto clothes are primarily made up of variations of black and white, evoking vampire-esque suits and collars. We see patchwork, long coats, silk shirts and the only colour elements of the runway: splattered colour suits. His designs are androgynous as ever, his Japanese influence clearly visible in the tailored fabrics.
Dries Van Noten and the Cowboy Extravaganza
To get to the SS23 Dries Van Noten collection one needs to climb up 8 storeys of a car park. It’s quite the effort, but the backdrop of Parisian rooftops makes the climb worth it — as do the clothes, of course.
For this season it was rumoured Dries Van Noten had been researching male subcultures, notably the Zazous, who loudly took over Paris during the Nazi occupation, and the Buffalo, who were founded in the times of Margaret Thatcher.
This influence makes sense, particularly when looking at the chosen venue of a car park full of graffiti and void of the authoritarianism arguably present in other luxury fashion houses.
The show opens up with a louche, pinstripe tailored suit, its elegance disrupted by a baby-pink, lingerie style, body-con.
The pink, at least for the first half of the show, gets used as a disruptive element in the show, making an appearance in a very femininely tailored tank top or other waist accentuating features.
The collection is interesting for a myriad of reasons, notably because it showcases the vanguard of the fashion industry through the soft agility of its fabrics. The clothes, sometimes evoking menswear from the 1930s and other times mid-west cowboys in silk had an undoubtedly feminine touch to them.
We see vests, flown trousers, tank tops and typography patterns. There’s cowboy boots, long trench coats and revealing low collars.
The pieces clash in true Van Noten style, patterns contrasting in colour and form to one another in fabrics that flow in the wind. One pattern in specific stands out, the hexagonal print, which emulates old-school motocross graphics and brings a masculine touch to the runway.
The runway comes to a close with very youthful, loud, clashing and bold outfits. There is no predominant colour, everything is fair game for Dries Van Noten. Funnily enough, this is quite the contrast to the actual designer himself, who makes a short appearance at the end, wearing a very simple white shirt and black trousers.