Seven style lessons we learned from Paris Men's Fashion Week
For as long as we can remember, womenswear has long been the undisputed jewel in the crown of the global fashion industry.
For as long as we can remember, womenswear has long been the jewel in the crown of the global fashion industry. But, after years of hard work by forward-thinking trailblazers, waiting for a change in attitudes of what constitutes masculinity, menswear is no longer just the copycat little brother to its over-achieving big sister in women's fashion. All eyes are now on Paris after an audit of some of the most groundbreaking fashion shows hosted in the City of Light after three weeks of back-to-back men's fashion.
Virgil Abloh's second menswear show as creative director was an introspection on basics. Neutrals dominated the runway, whether in the form of military jackets, oversized trenchcoats or loafers. Another added bonus is that many of the accessories - the signature monogram luggage and red leather Speedy bags - would also be just as workable in a woman's wardrobe, which makes it more economically tempting.
Bum bags are back
Yes, you read that right. The humble bum bag has a bad rep: it's associated with elderly male tourists, usually American, with all their cash and travel documents at the ready for security. But, in recent years, it's become an integral element of festival fashion culture and and essential among teenage girls. Or so you thought! The bags arrived with a bang last season, but, if street style pictures in Paris are anything to go by, you'll be hard pressed to find a man under the age of 25 who doesn't have one, but these aren't bum bags as you know it, try wearing them more as a sling for modern effect.
Junya Watanabe sought only grey haired men during its casting for models, all of whom had passed their youthful prime and thus, the industry's target demographic, but were remarkably handome. At 58, Junya is acutely aware of the challenges facing men of a certain age and instead putting them into a neat box of grandad-wear, debuted a collection of sharp and piratical pieces with just the right amount of edge, like a double breasted navy coat with black leather sleeves or cropped khakis.
Headwear, in all it forms, is becoming a key point of expression and like everything in this world - the bigger, the better. Raf Simons' first show since leaving Calvin Klein last year came with many of his signatures, but sending each model down the runway wearing what appears to be a modern take on the riding helmet (which he said was an homage to the pillbox hats of the 1950s) was certainly a look.
Men in black
Red carpet dressing and by default, occasion wear, has long been a world of little options, so it's a welcome change to see Celine is introducing a new take on the classic black suit...and leather jacket...and shoes...and sunglasses. Hedi Slimane's first menswear show was representative of his love of simplicity: jackets came in all forms, either solid black or patterned and were put together with the je ne sais quoii was previously thought that only French women possessed.
Comfort is key
Good news for those who pride cosiness above all else, trainers are no longer just socially acceptable but have all the makings of a bold style statement. Sneakers (if we're speaking in a more universal language), were the raison d'être for street style stars in Paris, keen to show off a pair of Kenzo's Sonics. Brands like OAMC also debuted their adidas Originals collection, as did PUMA with their Han Kjobenhavn collaboration and perhaps most excitedly, Raf Simons' line with adidas.
The Greatest Showman
Depending on where your tastes align, Paul Smith's colourful infusion is either a welcome addition of bold statement-making style or a new take on PT Barnum's signature look. The British designer showcased look after look of primary colours, with neat twists like a blue snakeskin jacket or blue faux fur double flap hat. "I suppose, in that, it’s a collection that’s really about self-expression, irreverence in mixing and finding things. Everyone has logos all over the place now, but that’s not what it was like for me growing up," Smith told Vogue. The lesson is: be bold, be bright and be yourself.