Paris Menswear: The Highlights

The Spring/Summer 2020 season is almost over. There is only one more day of runway shows left in Paris and we can already predict what you will be wearing next summer. And yet, one wonders if these trends will still matter to their targeted audience and customers. In our ultra-connected and digitalized world, where information and visual inspiration flow 24 hours a day, the very concept of defining future fashion "trends" seems to have become meaningless. In fact, since new trends or fashion moments keep on following one another with phenomenal speed and eventually end up replacing each other without ever remaining at the top of our attention span for too long, we wonder if we still need to define trends in order to keep our fashion industry going. 

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

In other words, finding common denominators between fashion collections in order to define ready-to-wear trends and writing about them as a journalist used to be a bit like inviting our readers to look into the crystal ball of fashion. But how can we talk about future fashion trends when brands and designers are constantly changing and reinventing themselves in the digital here and now, and are all drawing inspiration from the same melting pot of past and present references? We think that it is about time we stop playing fortune tellers and leave the future of fashion where it belongs: to its future. 

Instead of providing you with yet another trend feature (yes, suits are still in, and streetwear is too, etc…), we'd like to tell you about the creative highlights in general. Why, you ask? Because these aspirational menswear moments are having an impact beyond next summer's wardrobe: they are firmly anchored in our present cultural reality and are therefore witnesses of our current society. 

Please Don't Stop the Music 

From left to right: Balmain Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION, Angus Chiang Spring/Summer 2020 show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION and Yohji Yamamoto Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

Music and fashion have always been forming one of the best couples of the creative industry; but in recent days, pop, trap, and hip-hop celebrities have taken over the fashion brands' front rows, runways, and ad campaigns like never before. And this season, once again, designers expressed their love for both creative entities. Olivier Rousteing did what he does best: glam-rock, pop, and urban culture-inspired showy menswear outfits that come with great stage potential. No wonder so many artists like to wear his designs while performing. His latest menswear outing was not just presented during your regular fashion show format: following his runway show, Rousteing actually staged an entire festival program – with live-acts and DJs, including French sensation Kiddy Smile, drink and food stalls, merch stands, and all – in benefit of (PRODUCT)RED, a licensed brand that seeks to engage the private sector in raising funds for HIV/AIDS. Yohji Yamamoto, for his part, offered his signature style take on easy-to-wear menswear staples that came with a refined touch and supple ease. Highlights included fluid outerwear pieces that were adorned with a guitar motif as an embroidery. Yamamoto's latest outing was seemingly catered to the dark and brooding indie rock types à la Jeff Buckley – speaking of which, the Belgian singer and songwriter Tamino was spotted front row at Yamamoto's show, and you could tell that the clothes were catered to him. Later this week, Tamino was also spotted at the Ann Demeulemeester runway show, where he seemingly admired Sébastien Meunier's somber and poetic take on the urban traveler. Ever the music lover, Angus Chiang stood out with a vision of his own. Inspired by 90s pop-flavored traditional music from Taiwan and his nostalgia for the pre-digital age, Chiang showcased playful, almost naive looking, men's and women's brightly colored streetwear silhouettes that incorporated his beloved CDs either as accessory pieces, such as earrings, or as decorative elements on clothes.

Saharan Dreams

From left to right: Dior Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION, CMMN SWDN Spring/Summer 2020 show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION and GmbH Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

The designers' penchant for gender-bending fashion and multicultural diversity in fashion reflects the social struggles of our times and our fights for gender equality, as well as for the inclusiveness of minorities and the abolition of cultural borders. This season, there was a particular focus on cultural elements from the Maghreb, the Middle East, and the Balkan. Starting with CMMN SWDN, the Iraqi-Swedish designer duo who featured its latest outing entitled "Ummah" (ed.: "community" in Arabic). It was a strong collection that meshed multiculturalism and celebrated contrasting elements through the use of unexpected pairings between Scandi minimalism and rich ornamental prints in warm colors. Later this week, another designer duo also made quite a cultural statement: GmbH's Benjamin Huseby and Serhat Isik explored their own spiritual quest and cultural identities with cool Oriental-inspired, urban tailoring and a penchant for the evil-eye print. Their signature style strict, utilitarian silhouettes were progressively decreasing, as the designers naturally moved towards soft, fine, and lithe fabrics and fluidity that allowed a great deal of movement – and some sexiness as well. Finally, Kim Jones took us on a desert trip – a pink, Dior version of the desert – with a range of explorer-flavored, sometimes slightly feminine, men's silhouettes with supple shapes, fluid constructions, and gently structured outfits. 

Freedom of Movement 

From left to right: Juun.J Spring/Summer 2020 show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION, Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2020 show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION and Études Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

Speaking of Dior, Kim Jones teamed up with artist Daniel Ashram in order to co-create desirable new takes on the Maison's statement accessory pieces, such as the famous saddle bag, in addition to a brand-new range of 3D printed bags in limited edition. Jones also collaborated with luxury luggage brand Rimowa to create a capsule of backpacks, hand cases (with an integrated champagne bottle holder!), and clutches crafted from aluminium. The French designer collective behind Études Studio, for their part, introduced their first eyewear collection, with four minimal and graphic styles, as well as sporty leather goods, including backpacks and chest bags in blue nylon fabric, and a fresh new take on the leather crossbody messenger. Finally, Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton made a range of eye-catching office and travel bags, and amongst them, the most desirable ones were the triangle-shaped, tone-in-tone monogram handbags for men. They added a contemporary, of-the-moment feel to Vuitton's artisanal heritage and confirmed that – contrary to widely held misconceptions that craftsmanship is dying out – artisanal pieces are here to stay, and still a significant part of today's luxury business. The common, guiding thread of this season's take on accessories was the clear willingness to design a multitude of handy, easy-to-wear leather goods that one would mostly wear close to the body – clipped at the belt, worn on the back or across the body, and even strapped to the body at the Juun J show – in order to allow an absolute freedom of movement, which caters to our need to constantly be on the move, and freed from any restraints.

Timeless Staples

From left to right: SYSTEM Spring/Summer 2020 presentation in Paris. Photo: Courtesy of PR, Berluti Spring/Summer 2020 show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION and Han Kjøbenhavn Spring/Summer 2020 show in Paris. Photo: Courtesy of PR.

Fashion styles come and go, but in menswear, the classic suit is a constant and timeless element, even when it is redefined and interpreted in a variety of silhouettes. SYSTEM's first menswear silhouette that hit the runway made quite a statement: an all-black, archetypal, easy-to-wear urban outfit for men that conveyed an effortless idea of timeless and modern dressing. The strong point of this collection was its ability to offer a new, slightly futuristic take on classic staple pieces with an urban edge in terms of volumes and shapes. Kris Van Assche, for his part, continued to explore Berluti's traditional legacy and artisanal heritage with an imaginative and adventurous twist on classic menswear suits enhanced by an intense color palette. The idea of sportswear was also explored, but Van Assche decided to focus on sleek and timeless tailoring first and foremost. In the same vein, Han Kjøbenhavn's Jannik Wikkelsø Davidsen belongs to a generation of independent designers that thrives on disrupting traditional silhouettes and patterns and redefining them with a daring, unexpected twist. In this sense, for his second outing in Paris, the Danish designer decided to upgrade traditional suitings and office wear and added an experimental, streetwear touch to them. 

Revisited Virility 

From left to right: Phipps Spring/Summer 2020 show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION, Ben Gorham x Peak Performance Spring/Summer 2020 collection. Photo: Courtesy of PR and Sacai Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

In a world full of streetwear obsessed club kids, be a good ol' cowboy à la John Wayne. Cool indie brands such as Phipps and Sankuanz have embraced this enduring fascination for strong, archetypal men earlier this week and featured cowboy-inspired silhouettes on their respective runways. In fact, these manly silhouettes inspired by the Wild Wild West are emblematic of the designers' willingness to fetishize and explore virility in a playful way. After all, the cowboy makes an unequivocal statement of virility: he stays for self-sufficiency and freedom, but first and foremost for the pleasure of unexpected – sometimes dangerous – adventures. In other words, boys will be boys – but want to be heroes as well. Yesterday, Sacai's Chitose Abe explored a different, more subtle, kind of virility: she offered a men's collection and women's pre-collection that were all emblematic of her signature style hybridization of utilitarian ready-to-wear pieces, and that were catered towards modern, urban explorers. "One Small Step for Men, One Giant Leap for Mankind": those were the words spoken by Neil Armstrong after becoming the first person to land on the Moon in 1969 – and these same words were mirror-printed on a Sacai tee-shirts from the brand's latest men's collection. These tee-shirts did not only make a cultural statement, but also a sustainable one: they were crafted from newly developed brewed protein blended sustainable fabric by Spiber, and featured graphics by Fabien Baron. Ben Gorham, for his part, teamed up with the Swedish luxury sportswear brand Peak Performance. Blending both sporty looks intended to be worn in the great outdoors and tailoring perfectly in synch with an urban and mobile lifestyle, Ben Gorham offered functional wardrobe pieces for a modern-day nature lover with performant, waterproof, breathable, and all-purpose outerwear styles.