Paris men’s fashion week returns to mid-capacity

Men’s Fashion Week in Paris ended on Sunday and was the first fashion week with an audience since September 2020. The official calendar of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode had around sixty events, including ten parades. Although a relatively small number, it was still higher than the number of shows in Milan, where only Etro, Dolce & Gabbana and Giorgio Armani were showing “live”. Then again, most brands have gone for videos, even a giant name like Louis Vuitton.

Many Parisian brands and designers received face to face reporters and buyers in their showrooms. Charaf Tajer from Casablanca spoke to FashionUnited for almost an hour about his new collection, inspired by Japan and the Memphis design group. He had rented a building for the occasion: three floors crammed with clothes, bags, shoes and jewelry – and three makeshift photo studios. “We have six hundred items in the collection this season,” Tajer said, “a record.” Tajer, a Frenchman of Moroccan descent based in London, had actually planned a parade. But it ended up falling apart. “We prefer to wait until more people come back to Paris,” he said.

Casablanca hosted a cocktail party in the garden of the Ritz, the luxury hotel in Place Vendôme, in the presence of celebrities such as Ella Emhoff, the daughter-in-law of US Vice President Kamala Harris, and Ashley Park, the actress of “Emily In Paris” (the second season of the Netflix series was filmed outdoors and in the studios of La Plaine Saint-Denis in Paris recently).

Dilan Lurr from Namacheko came from Antwerp with his collection. He showed off his clothes in a meeting room at the French Communist Party headquarters designed by Oscar Niemeyer, with whom he has a long-term contract.

But he also made a film, in a church in the Flemish village of Harelbeke. “I think in time I will come back to show,” he told FashionUnited in Paris. “In the meantime, I like this combination: here in the showroom, I can meet people, have personal contacts, but there is also the video which can reach a much larger audience.

Lurr has mostly seen reporters and editors in recent days. “I had two meetings with buyers this week, both from France,” he said. “The season before COVID-19, I had eighty business meetings. He added that the business is good. The difference is that business meetings with buyers are now almost entirely online.

Dior received 500 guests

This is to the advantage of both fashion brands and buyers: no need to travel to Milan or Paris, nor to invest in expensive showrooms. The downside for buyers is that they only see the clothes on delivery, which can sometimes be disappointing. For fashion journalists, movies are frustrating. Much of a fashion week’s topical value is off the stage, in the people you meet and the experiences you share.

The turnout for Fashion Week this season was nothing like the pre-COVID-19 era. Asia, by far the most important luxury fashion market, was under-represented and there were far fewer street style influencers and photographers than before. Because the borders with the United States reopened, a small representation of American fashion professionals attended the parades.

Dior was the only label to pretend everything was normal, with a parade and five hundred guests in a giant tent in front of the golden dome of Les Invalides. Social distancing measures, with an empty space between each seat, have been largely ignored. Kim Jones, the artistic director of Dior’s men’s collections, has worked with a different distinguished artist each season since joining the venerable French house. This time he asked a musician: Travis Scott, who has previously collaborated with McDonald’s, Nike, Playstation, Epic Games and Byredo, among others. Haute couture is getting closer to entertainment every time.

Dior’s decor was amazing: a mix of Christian Dior’s garden with the Texas desert, with giant roses and cacti. The collection was chic and slightly psychedelic, with snakeskin and the colors of a psychedelic sunset (plus a touch of neon green here and there). The reference to Texas was obvious: Scott grew up there and Dior went there during his legendary trip to the United States in 1947. Victoire de Castellane, head of fine jewelry at Dior, created the first jewelry for the house. men’s collection: a cactus necklace with 2,219 diamonds, six emeralds and 34 pearls.

The Hermès show was the last important meeting of the week. The layout was smaller than at Dior. About a hundred guests were invited to the courtyard of the Mobilier National, a building where the exceptional furniture of the French State is kept. The show started on time, in almost tropical rain. Véronique Nichanian, artistic director of the Hermès men’s collections, is collaborating for the third time with the director Cyril Teste, and for the first time it takes the form of a classic parade, with the mineral architecture of Auguste Perret and a backdrop giant screens. It was a memorable show, one of the most successful in Nichanian’s long career, sweet but at the same time full of energy and optimism. As elsewhere in Paris (Vuitton, Dior, Burberry), the color palette is dominated by sand tones.

“The human connection to the audience at a fashion show is irreplaceable,” Nichanian said. “Seeing people wearing the clothes is what brings them to life. “

Dior and Hermès were the blockbusters of the week. But in addition, a number of young French labels have also seized their chance to shine in the spotlight.

The week was opened with the back-to-back parades of Cool TM, in an empty mansion with the atmosphere of the Place d’Iéna, and Bluemarble, in the courtyard of the national archives in the Marais. Both labels specialize in hybrids of streetwear and haute couture, in technicolor.

Louis-Gabriel Nouchi gave two shows in a row in a fountain between the Palais de Tokyo and the Musée National d’Art de Moderne in Paris: the first as artistic director of Joeone, a Chinese textile company specializing in trousers and that Nouchi is trying to expand this market, and the second for his own brand, in which he slalomes between East and West, a bit like in Marguerite Duras’ Lover. Nouchi still bases his collection on a novel, but this time he has not obtained permission.

Officine Générale, now a household name on the Parisian trade fair calendar, presented itself in a palace in the Marais. The Pierre Maheo label shows the kind of stylish and comfortable men’s clothing that doesn’t really need a runway.

The Lazoschmidl duo opened a pop-up store, and received the press with a one man show: a model who put on and took off the clothes of the new collection in the store, plunging the public in the eyes.

Isabel Marant has pasted photos of her new collection on the columns of the Palais Brogniart, and organized a picnic on the forecourt (a good idea, too bad it’s unusually cold). Courrèges has opened a new boutique in the Marais. Acne has featured archival issues of his magazine Acne Journal, which will be relaunched later this year. Jean-Charles de Castelbajac had an army of models in white tunics painted on Sunday afternoon on the esplanade of the Center Pompidou, a beautiful artistic performance.

Céline, Saint Laurent, Kenzo, Balenciaga, Balmain, Berluti and Raf Simons and several other brands were nowhere to be found last week. Some brands probably prefer to wait until September to present their men’s and women’s collections. Saint Laurent and Celine, like Gucci, seem more comfortable when they can follow their own pace. Balenciaga has an important meeting next week, during the week of sewing.

Fashion weeks in the future will be both digital and analog

If Men’s Fashion Week has proven anything, it’s that the runway is here to stay. The fashion industry needs events (to create content for social media, but also just for networking), just like the cities where Fashion Weeks are held. But maybe not all labels need a show anymore, and maybe it won’t be as big as it used to be, although Dior’s show seems to suggest otherwise. It remains to be seen whether international journalists and buyers will return en masse to Paris, Milan, London and New York. A number of stores haven’t survived the pandemic, or just barely, and magazines around the world are shrinking and disappearing.

The fashion film isn’t going away either. With this tool, brands reach a much larger audience, although the end impact may be less than that of a fashion show. Giants like Vuitton or Chanel have enough resources to finance both a spectacular parade and a Hollywood production. But for small brands, it is a question of finding the most effective formula to score points.

“I love shows,” emerging designer Boramy Viguier told FashionUnited in his third film this season, “but a white box with a row of models in a row isn’t enough. Chanel, the models were holding a sign with a number that referred to their outfit in an order book. You also had typical model poses back then. What I mean is shows have always evolved. .

In the long run, it might turn out like it used to be: almost all shows were already broadcast live before covid. In the meantime, the organizers of fashion weeks, such as the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, have set up the digital infrastructure necessary to federate these livestreams on the same platform. The next generation of Fashion Weeks will be both analog and digital, adding even more weight.

This article has been translated from Dutch

Home page image: Louis Gabriel Nouchi

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