SS19 PFW Men′s: The Round Up

Debuts stole the show last week in Paris as we saw Kim Jones and Virgil Abloh present their first collections at the helm of Dior Homme and Louis Vuitton Men’s respectively. Raf Simmons also returned to the city of love for the first time in three seasons to present his inspired eponymous line with other Parisian favourites joining him too.

Dior Homme
Following his Louis Vuitton departure and upon landing at Dior Homme, Kim Jones documented (via Instagram) his day-to-day role within Dior where he immersed himself in the Maison’s archives so it came as no surprise that his debut collection paid tribute to Christian Dior’s personal life and the historical moments for the brand. Most notably he took patterns from the wallpaper in the first Dior boutique and superimposed them on jacquards and leathers; he used botanical elements throughout, in reference to Dior’s love of horticulture; his new Tailleur Oblique jacket took inspiration from the famous cut and tailoring used by Dior himself and of course, the brands signature pinks and greys were used throughout the collection. The show notes said that the production was about “translating a quintessentially feminine couture identity into a masculine idiom,” which was evident through striped tailoring and the use of couture techniques. There were also sportswear influences in the likes of trainer, shoe and boot hybrids and baseball pumps and caps that completed most looks. Jones modernised accessories that will no doubt attract the eye of a younger audience; think rhinestone-embellished dog-bone keyrings, as well as a perfume dispenser in the shape of the dog and its owner. His bags were a big talking point of the show with the English designer presenting the brands famous Saddle bag in a menswear collection for the first time ever. We also saw black backpacks as well as cross-body and belt-bags highlighting the new world of Dior Homme; contemporary masculinity.

Louis Vuitton
Marking a new era at Louis Vuitton, Off-white founder and Kanye West’s protégée Virgil Abloh presented his first collection for the brands menswear line at Paris’s Jardin de Palais Royal. He lined the 50-foot long rainbow-gradient runway with over 1000 students in a gesture explicitly focused on empowering the next generation and showing that everyone has a place in fashion. His theme was ‘We Are The World’ which again focused on inclusivity; his show notes started with a map of the world, marked with a series of dots, each representative of the models parents birthplace which he hoped would give a “a global view on diversity linked to the travel DNA of the brand.” Aside from A-listers that walked the collection, including London skater and artist Blondey McCoy, Playboi Carti, Steve Lacy, Kid Cudi, and A$AP Nast, the show’s line up was noticeable as it was predominately made up of models of colour, expressing diversity and inclusion. The start of the collection was monochromatic, fresh and clean; think questionably tailored suits, shearling aviator coats and sportswear influenced silhouettes, completed with structural backbacks and pouches. As the show continued, models in colourful pieces began to flock the runway. Sweaters with tie-dyed detailing, floral bomber jackets and shorts and The Wizard of Oz prints all featured. A diverse collection with a focus on the change needed in the fashion world. With people like Abloh in positions where they can undo the structural inequalities we face as an industry, it’s certainly warming knowing fashion is in the right hands.

Raf Simmons 
After a three-season long break from Paris Fashion Week, Raf Simmons finally returned to present his eponymous menswear line. For the past 18 months, since becoming creative director at Calvin Klein, the Belgian designer chose Manhattan as the home to his fashion shows. Although he changed his location, he didn’t break the mould for his SS19 collection. Turning an abandoned warehouse into a club, guests were treated to dangling mannequins, an extravagant light show and a thumping Bauhaus soundtrack. One thing he did leave behind, however, was printed hoodies. The collection was tailoring heavy, with big coats and jackets in silken couture fabrics, he commented, “We need a new outline. I know I’m part of it myself, but too many hoodies with prints! There was not even one in the show. Something needs to shift.” Instead, taking a punk-like inspiration, Simmons mixed skinny trousers with heavy-soled boots and printed tees of London’s punk scene whilst some models even wore heavy dark eye shadow. Jumpers were also given a twist through the appearance of an extra arm or neck hole. Models carried silver beer cans with earrings that looked like ring-pulls and ring details embroidered onto tops; a reference to how the youth socialise over a pack of beers. An afterparty completed the night which reminded everyone just why Raf Simmons was dearly missed at the bi-annual week.

Balmain
Through a collection inspired by his childhood obsessions; Michael Jackson, the American Dream, Serge Gainsbourg and French style, Olivier Rousteing presented the first show for Balmain since Massimo Piombini was made the brand’s new chief executive officer. Rousteing described the collection as “Serge Gainsbourg and Michael Jackson having a talk,” and “preppy goes crazy,” and channelled a new strategy for the house; broadening the menswear lines. We saw a relaxed fitting combined with more denim, jersey and knitwear in. The 80-piece collection, which also included some styles from the Women’s Episode Collection, was diversified and inclusive of a wider audience, however, there was still as much glitter and sparkle as formerly associated with Rousteing’s designs. Strands of tiny crystals hung from denim jackets and trousers, whilst skirt suits and boots were embellished with small silver mosaics. His love for French singer Gainsbourg shone throughout the show; think anchor inspired jumpers with similarly striped trousers. There were long black cotton hoodies with prints taken from Jackson’s Dangerous cover that had the front row talking. A Parisian masterclass from Rousteing that looked to be more inclusive to the wider mass. It seems the Balmain Army is now recruiting…

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