Paris Comes Out on Top of the SS20 Season
The menswear fashion weeks have been going through a bit of a transformation of late. New York menswear week has been slowly fading from view and both London and Milan Menswear Fashion Weeks have shrunk in size as more fashion houses do destination presentations or fold their menswear offering into their womenswear shows. On the other hand Paris Menswear Fashion Week (even with Givenchy showing at Pitti Uomo in Florence and Saint Laurent in Los Angeles) is flourishing.
Not only was it filled with tentpole menswear shows from the likes of Louis Vuitton, Dior, Celine, Raf Simons and Dries Van Noten, it was also the place where up and coming designers stepped into the spotlight for the first time. Labels like Bode, Sies Marjan, Ludovic de Saint Sernin and Phipps debuted on the official calendar this season. While other buzzy brands like Palomo Spain, Heron Preston, Fumito Ganryu, GmbH and Officine Generale stacked the calendar full of can’t miss collections.
There were also great premieres at established houses, like Bruno Sialelli’s Babar The Elephant inspired first menswear show at Lanvin, as well as memorable farewells. Such as the final Kenzo show for outgoing Creative Directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, after eight years at the helm. It featured a performance by singer Solange Knowles in front of 5000 guests who watch a lineup of dancers sporting archival pieces that the duo had designed during their tenure.
The Kenzo collection also underlined the growing trend of a return to spectacle fashion shows.
Rick Owens’s outside set, designed in collaboration with the British sculptor Thomas Houseago, was impressive. As was Hedi Slimane’s floating red box and light show at Celine and Kim Jones’s pink sand runway and crystal sculptures at Dior made for great social media fodder.
Also unforgettable was the way Olivier Rousteing turned his Balmain menswear show into a charitable music festival on the first day of summer to mark the Fête de la Musique in France.
After his over 100-look runway show, the designer had three surprised musical guests lined up for his audience of fans and VIPs. As Darren Criss, Rag’n’Bone Man and Years & Years played back to back sets, guests were able to buy drinks, food and “Balmain Festival” merch created for the event. All of the proceeds of which went to the (RED) charity foundation to help raise funds to fight AIDS.
But the best example of a fashion show spectacle during the Paris menswear shows was the Louis Vuitton event. The luxury house and it’s menswear creative director Virgil Abloh took over the Place Dauphine to create a captivating city street set filled with Louis Vuitton branded park benches, an LV red bouncy castle and street vendors selling ice cream and crepes or giving away logo key chains and Parisian trinkets (think mini Eiffel Towers and branded LV bubble wands).
For those who don’t have the budget of Louis Vuitton, finding surprising or new location was a great way to spark interest in a show. Palomo Spain presented its collection inside the impressive Embassy of Spain. Junya Watanabe found a hidden gem in the halls of the Chapelle du Val-de-Grâce. And Lanvin used all three levels of the Edouard Pailleron pool building, that was built in the 1930s, as a runway for designer Sialelli’s first show.
As far as menswear trends are concerned the big takeaway from the fashion week was a return to pastel colors. With pink and sherbert orange being the top colors of the season. From Dior, Louis Vuitton and Hermes to Loewe, Valentino, Sies Marjan, Thom Browne and Rochas, the sugar sweet color pallette was in full effect. Tailoring is also coming back strong for next summer with a lot of houses now finding seamless ways to integrate streetwear touches into more structured offerings. Kim Jones excelled at this at Dior, so did Hedi Slimane at Celine. And modern tailoring top marks are also in order for Berluti, GmbH and Dries Van Noten.
As the temperatures in Paris started to creep up past the 35 degree Celsius mark on the last days of the menswear shows it was almost as if the city knew that it had a white-hot season of menswear on its hands. It was a bumper crop of luxury clothing and men everywhere will be harvesting the benefits of their purchases of Spring/Summer 2020 pieces for years to come.
Jessica Michault is the Senior Vice President of industry relations at GPS Radar by Launchmetrics. She is also the editor-at-large for ODDA magazine and contributes to publications like the New York Times, the Business of Fashion, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Mixte magazine.
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