Our menswear contributor Long Nguyen, co-founder and style director of Flaunt magazine, is hitting up the menswear shows in Paris to bring you all the latest. Read up on Louis Vuitton's Bhutanese-inspired collection, Mugler's fluoro-military wear, and Valentino's couture-like tailoring.
A giant black and white floor-to-ceiling photograph of the Matterhorn surrounded by fog graced the entrance to the Louis Vuitton men’s show inside the Grand Palais. This grand image asked the audience to take a metaphorical trip to the Alps or whatever destination or ‘Magic Mountain’ the imagination fancied. For his fall 2013 show, Vuitton studio director Kim Jones continued his journey around the globe. Now, the Himalayas--in particular the Kingdom of Bhutan--provided the visual cues for a collection that featured broad shouldered silhouettes, reverse-shearling coats adorned with Everest-stone buttoning, boxy parkas, navy puffers, and double breasted dress coats in a faint leopard print. This sense of adventure and travel has always been central to the brand’s heritage. Here the modern gentleman mountain climber came down from the steps of the Himalayas in the brown and navy stripes of Bhutan's national dress.
Part of Louis Vuitton's newer heritage under Jones has been to collaborate with artists to create special, original products for the brand. This season the designer brought in English artists Jake and Dinos Chapman, known together as the Chapman Brothers, to create the wild floral patterns (a print that mixed traditional Himalayan art together with those wild animals native to the mountains) that closed the show on silk jacquard smoking jackets. Jones called the prints a "Garden in Hell."
While, as in seasons past, the collection veered towards traditional suiting and tailoring, dramatic prints (see: the "Garden of Hell print, the leopard print dress coats) and an intarsia sweater featuring a double-headed lion upped the fashion quotient. Traveling in the mountainous Kingdom of Bhutan for Jones meant carrying a single large shearling luggage-backpack combo. For those who don’t actually travel to great distances or exotic destinations, a Chapman print extra large weekend bag may be the ultimate accessory come fall. Not to mention the shiny black hiking boots.
Even though Mugler creative Nicolas Formichetti--along with designer Romain Kremer--showed the label's fall 2013/14 men's collection at the same venue he did when he relaunched the dormant brand in 2011, so much has changed.
Formichetti's first collection for Mugler men's, though accompanied by much buzz (remember how Lady Gaga, at the height of her fame, created the soundtrack for the show), was so high concept and borderline unwearable that it lacked serious grounding.
But at this week's show honoring the 40th anniversary of the Mugler heritage, all that hype and showmanship were abandoned. In lieu, Formichetti chose to create a sporty Mugler man. One-button wool suits in navy, dark green, and fuchscia paid homage to the house's broad-shouldered silhouette. The collection centered around aeronautical and military aspects done in a familiar range of Mugler colors: royal blue, fluoro yellow, hot pink. A padded wool vest made to resemble a bullet-proof vest was worn over black and grey knits. There were many strong outerwear pieces: a double-breasted knee-length coat, blue wool storm coats, oversized trenches, that should be great performers at retail come fall. High waisted pants with velcro closures done in royal blue, a lime green patent leather jumpsuit, and hot pink collared bullet-proof vest added that necessary fashion quotient.
If there was ever to be a formal men’s couture fashion show, then Maria Grazia Chuiri and Pier Paolo Piccioli’s fall 2013/14 collection for Valentino shown at the Hôtel de Rothschild--the same locale where they have been showing the women’s couture--would surely qualify.
It was a collection of precise British tailoring--slim fit suits in plaids and houndstooth checks--with a hint of sensuality runing throughout.
The opulence of the Rothschild salons finally found its match in this gentlemanly show. The designers distilled their design concept down to the most basic framework of men’s fashion--that of draping cloths to create a slim silhouette around the body. You could see the anterior thigh muscle of a model as he walked by, his pants were so tight. But however elegant the clothes were, there were some essential sportswear elements mixed in, like a khaki wool pea coat or a short belted rain coat done.
If one could find fault in this collection, it would be the designers’ intense focus solely on the dressy aspect of a man’s wardrobe. In future collections, there will be plenty of opportunities to build up the sportwear.