Kenzo, Arturo Obegero and Wooyoungmi: three contemporary visions of menswear
Paris Fashion Week for Men, dedicated to the collections for autumn-winter 2023/24, ended on Sunday, marked by some unforgettable catwalk shows, such as that of Kenzo, which brought together more than 1,000 people in the Salle Pleyel, with an incredible array of stars.
One year after taking over at Kenzo, Nigo is pushing the accelerator. This was reflected in his third fashion show, which attracted the most famous people in the art world. More than fifty celebrities came to the show, including singers Pharrell Williams, Troye Sivan, Erika Jayne, rappers Skepta, Tyga and Kodak Black, who came with their families, French pop star Aya Nakamura, and actress Lisa Rinna. Not to mention American rapper Lil Baby, who hosted the after-show in the foyer of the concert hall.
Compared to his two previous collections, the creative director of the Japanese label, owned by the LVMH group, seemed to have distanced himself a little from the legacy of founder Kenzo Takada, drawing more on his own Sixties-flavoured imagination, at the risk of confusing his public. The very eclectic collection went in several directions, Nigo playing a balancing act between a clearly British thread, drawing on the sartorial, country and mods influence, and on the other hand the Japanese influence, in the constructions and textile techniques.
Thus, checked tweed suits with shirt and tie alternated with casual weekend wear with pocketed jackets in corduroy or sheepskin, fair isle tartan jumpers and comfortable denim or solid canvas trousers, worn with clogs or a pair of Hunter rubber boots (the historic British brand used by English hunters). The short collarless jackets were reminiscent of the Beatles, whose hits served as the soundtrack to the show, performed by an orchestra of string instruments by the young Japanese musicians of the 1966 Quartet.
For the girls, the Japanese designer imagined mini-skirt suits with tartans or large pockets, in corduroy or worsted wool, as well as knitwear ensembles decorated with micro flowers, just as short and sixties influenced, which contrasted with more retro silhouettes with long skirts or dresses with gathered flounces, paired with wool mini-capes. Here again, Nigo gave the impression of wanting to call upon a multitude of references, which may have confused the brand's fans.
The Japanese side with samurai silhouettes, and in particular the series of pieces in Japanese denim, was undoubtedly more appealing. The kendo uniform was revisited, the wide pleated hakama skirt and the haori kimono jacket were declined in men's suiting wools or denim, or separated and worn with tops and bottoms from the traditional men's wardrobe. The haori jacket, in particular, was offered in unexpected materials such as shiny velvet with plush curly wool. Some quilted pieces, such as coats, jackets and waistcoats, were made using the traditional Sashiko embroidery technique.
Denim was used in wide trousers and mid-length skirts, as well as in overalls and large jackets. The collar of classic denim jackets were reminiscent of kimono Y-necks. "The denim is washed like the original Kenzo jeans from the 1980s and 1990s, with some pieces printed on the back of the fabric as well as the outer surface, allowing for a graphic effect when the hems are pulled up," the house says.
Arturo Obegero expands into ready-to-wear
"I wanted to play with the archetype of the 'femme fatale', a female character from the 40s and 50s and the 'film noir' genre, which I like very much aesthetically. I wanted to put a twist on this term, which has always been associated with evil women and has a highly sexist connotation. It was not seen as something positive that they were intelligent, sexually powerful women who knew what they wanted; whereas, if a man is associated with these characteristics, it would be seen as something admirable,” explained the Spanish designer Arturo Obegero to FashionNetwork.com about his latest collection entitled Homme fatale.
The collection consisted of 20 looks that combined extravagant tailoring with abstract bullfighter-inspired trousers, tailored jackets, 18th century corsets, short jackets and high-rise trousers, oversized coats, denim jackets, thick cotton shirts with architectural shapes, draped sarong dresses and a first attempt at knitwear with cashmere and wool sweatpants featuring classic suit trouser details.
Some of the garments were also constructed from the theatre curtains that were used to make one of his first collections. Notably, a red fur coat caught the eye of the French Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malak.
Obegero explained the intentions behind the collection presented at the Palais de Tokyo: "My aim was to reflect the way in which fashion has the ability to empower men in the 21st century". His usual "queer touch" also characterised the collection, a style with which he has managed to seduce the British singer Harry Styles, who has already worn the brand both on his tour and in his music video for his song "As It Was".
"I would love to continue working with him, it was crazy how much he catapulted the brand into the public eye," acknowledged Obegero.
His creations are gender fluid and can truly be worn by anyone. "Often, in trying to avoid creating labels, we end up creating more labels. The most important thing is to live life respecting one another. At the end of the day, these garments are just pieces of fabric that I cut and sew from a pattern, they are genderless. I don't define them. There is currently a lot of marketing being done around the notions of 'genderless' or 'gender fluid'. In my opinion, it is something that has to be dealt with in a natural way because it is nothing new and these things have been going on since the 14th century", said the couturier. "My creations are for people who feel good and empowered when they wear them," he concluded.
"I wanted to prove that I am also capable of making prêt-à-porter clothes that are better suited for everyday wear", said the Tapia de Casariego-born couturier about his desire to continue to preserve his "elevated and elegant couture essence", while at the same time developing fashion that is "more accessible, that everyone can wear and that can finance the couture collections". For the Paris-based menswear designer, this step underscores "the evolution and maturity of the brand".
"The aim is none other than to be able to offer a well-rounded wardrobe," he underlined, showing, for example, the brand's first bomber jacket with puffed hems as well as jeans featuring hints of lingerie.
Wooyoungmi, sleek beauty under the volcano
For 20 years, Woo Youngmi has been bringing together her South Korean culture and Parisian fashion. For her autumn-winter 2023-24 collection, the designer has continued to explore this conversation between the Far East and the West.
The opening of her wide-range collection, unveiled under the great glass roof of the Palais de Tokyo on Sunday, saw a group of men and women, diaphanous skins and long hair, like Scandinavian deities dressed in large coats or plain suits with one- or two-button jackets or double-breasted coats, with ample cuts and in cream, ecru, water green, ochre or black colours.
Everyone wore an imposing spherical jewel in a buttonhole, on a necklace, on a belt, on the handle of a bag or on their sneakers. Elegantly made jewels that drew the eye and that have become one of the signatures of the season. "While researching the jewellery worn by the rulers of the Silla kingdom, which shaped South Korea for a thousand years from 57 BC to 935 AD, Ms Woo reinterprets their expression in a contemporary language. Retaining the forms of the jewels, which were originally used to adorn overly embellished garments, she reduces the jewels to a central form and magnifies them to sculptural dimensions," the brand details.
Tailoring was a big part of this collection, but Woo Youngmi also explored more streetwear silhouettes with a volcanic theme, inspired by the volcano on Jeju Island in the south of the country.
From the embroidery on the heart of a pastel coloured varsity jacket, to volcanic eruption prints on denim trousers or in knitted t-shirts worn over straight, wide cowboy denim jeans, cinched at the waist with a very wide python print belt. Belts, in extra-large sizes and falling almost to the knee, in emerald green, turquoise blue or orange, accessorised casual or more formal outfits. Finally, the volcano motif was expressed in a large way by careful embroidery on the front of a short black jacket.
Dominique Muret, Triana Alonso et Olivier Guyot
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