Paris Day Five: Decoding the New Men’s Wardrobe

The disassembling and reassembling technique became the trademark of Chitose Abe at Sacai. This season, she explored a new path of this execution leaving back the colorful patchworks of motifs to go monochrome, without losing an inch of her style. She opened with an unexpected girly dress in black and white made from a men’s tuxedo shirt on a black long skirt with a stitched bow tie hung around the neck. Not usual Sacai, yet very Sacai. Her signature layering, cut and paste, oversizing and minimizing followed in each look, but in a plain palette made of graphite, army green, khaki, black, white and Abe’s traditional striped shirt fabric. Suiting was deeply reinterpreted, applying it on t-shirts made with tailoring fabrics that incorporated jacket details to introduce new shapes. Prints were limited to a few zebra patterns and some discreet Hawaiian flowers (an homage to the iconic surfer Duke Kahanamoku). Abe got the feeling that she was going to be stuck in her own creativity, so she moved on evolving her language playing with her own codes.

Sacai Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo for NOWFASHION.

Season by season, Jonathan Anderson at Loewe and Thom Browne are exploring a new aesthetic defining a different frontier of garments for men. Even if the shows looked extremely feminine on the surface, they were not. Both designers have a deep sensibility that allowed them to express their vision while still offering fashionable clothes that are easy to understand. The signifiers of the concept are the styling and the performance, the real meaning is an unconventional new men’s look that is defining the next aesthetic.

Loewe Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo for NOWFASHION.

Jonathan Anderson at Loewe worked on a lengthened and pure silhouette: tunics and caftans became dresses layered on wide pants and bermudas. Overall, he created a new shape that reminds us of Mediterranean landscapes and villages without being so literal. The stripes were the only motifs; the rest was a balanced combination of colors: from white to pink, from blue and denim to the Oro supersoft suede. What the show delivered the most was an attitude about a journey, a nomadic vision that became a staple of the Spanish house through the eyes of the Northern Ireland born designer. All is permeated with the passionate state of mind of the Iberian culture that Anderson masterfully handles, avoiding too playful of an effect.

Thom Browne Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

Thom Browne works in another direction. The show was a performance to freely express his ideas, to unroll his feelings and visions. The seersucker and the (unexpected) panier were the main themes: he imagined a XVIIIth century garden to play sports and dance (the principal dancer at the American ballet theatre, James Whiteside, opened and closed the show with a seersucker tutù). The point of view of the American designer works on two parallel layers. The surface with the surreal performance that seemed to show men as dolls to be dressed and undressed with a paniered look and exaggerated shapes, in the past conceived for women. The in-depth tailoring is where Brown is at his best; this season with one of Browne’s favourite summer fabrics worked into all the men’s classics, of course à la Thom Browne. Every presentation is still catchy, but maybe this formula needs to be updated as it is becoming repetitive, losing its surprising element.

Sies Marjan Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.

In his debut full menswear collection Sies Marjan’s Creative Director Sander Lak also reflected on masculinity, trying to find the most delicate way to express it. He worked on tailoring and softness, adding a palette that in some parts recalled the myriad of skin tones. The beginning was promising, but then it lost the focus showing different worlds that could hardly be connected to each other.

Hermès Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

At Hermès, the word was nonchalance. The laid-back attitude of summer days is reflected in the whole collection. The men that Artistic Director Véronique Nichanian proposed this season is a traveller that loves to play with colours, both of which were iconic, as the Hermès orange for the scarves or an unexpected bubble gum pink. Silk carré prints became shirts, blousons, or jackets; reversible pieces emphasized the idea of the trip where the possibility of easy packing and unpacking is the secret of a new luxe. Windowpane motifs for the outerwear, stripes for shirts and pants added a light touch to the looks. This season, Nichanian surprised with a fresh and playful collection that gave a sense of modernity to the Hermès men. Sometimes it is enough to think just a bit out of the box to inject a lot of new energy to the brand.