Jan 21, 2017
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Paris fashion takes on the great men's suit conundrum

Jan 21, 2017

Do suits suit us anymore? Designers wrestled with how to reinvent the boring old jacket and pants combo for skate-kid millennials at the Paris menswear shows Friday.

With everyone wondering if Haider Ackermann would take his scissors to the classic lines of Berluti in his debut show for the Italian brand, much brainpower is being expended on trying to make the classic two-piece relevant.

French fashion designer Haider Ackermann, acknowledges the public at the end Berlutti show during men's Fashion Week for the Fall/Winter 2017/2018 collection in Paris on January 20, 2017.©FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP - AFP
Deux jours après le show de sa marque homonyme, Haider Ackermann a présenté pour ses débuts chez Berluti un défilé mixte, avec un vestiaire adapté à l'homme d'affaires p

Purists need not panic, not as far as Ackermann is concerned in any case.

The Colombian-born designer's first Berluti collection was exquisite, a symphony in velvet, suede and cord, classic yet right on the button of cool.

His suits of often subtly contrasting browns and blacks were paired with coats in rich reds, blues and gold and woolly halo collars.

Trousers -- as has often happened this week -- stopped at the ankle over Berluti's trademark Chelsea boots.

The celebrity-studded audience included the British actress Tilda Swinton, a longtime fan of the 45-year-old creator, whose show earlier in the week for his own label was adored by critics.v

Cerruti turned the clock back to the 1930s in its search to find the roots of the suit. The result was a show that was lock, stock and two smoking barrels of gangster chic which channelled both Al Capone and "Goodfellas" influences from the 1950s.

Cerruti 1881 - Fall-Winter2017 - Menswear - Paris - © PixelFormula

Wide fur-collared coats were matched with Homburg hats and three-pieces suits for the capos and shirts, braces and "Peaky Blinders" style Irish caps for the foot soldiers.

For all its mobster vibe it had none of the simmering menace of Australian Justin O'Shea's failed attempt last year to make over Brioni in his own image with gangsterish silk shirts and full-length chinchilla coats.

Margiela too eschewed cheap machismo in its collection inspired by the American Beat poets Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.

Its two suits were unadorned, simply cut showing the man within rather than trying to put on a show.

- Nice skirt, sir -

Masanori Morikawa of Christian Dada went for a bigger statement with his rethought pinstripe suits, contrasting them with sweatshirts emblazoned with slogans like "Loser" and what seemed to be "I Don't Like the Drugs But the Drugs Like Me."

Another Japanese brand, Commes Des Garcons, went unisex, turning the conventional jacket and trousers combo into jacket and skirt or jacket and culottes.

Yohji Yamamoto deconstructed the waistcoated three-piece suit with traditional Japanese layerings, which although hugely comfortable looking, may take some convincing for the average businessman to wear.

Pinstripes had made a tentative comeback earlier in the week in Ackermann's own label show and in the debut Icosae collection by young Parisian brothers Valentin and Florentin Glemarec.

Sebastien Meunier at Ann Demeulemeester, however, went for outright romanticism, skipping back two centuries to the poets and dreamers of the early 19th century and their trailing black greatcoats.

These were the kind of dashingly gothic get-ups that Byron and Shelley would have given a finger or two on their writing hands for.

His see-through lacey greatshirts with high collars or ruff necks and hats plumed with feathers were an ode to dreamier days, ribbons trailing down to long baggy trousers.

Ann Demeulemeester - Fall-Winter2017 - Menswear - Paris - © PixelFormula

Setting it all to Roxy Music's doomed love song "A Song for Europe" -- "Here I sit at this empty cafe, thinking of you..." -- was a stroke of genius.

"Romanticism is the DNA of this brand and we tried to keep it very strong," Meunier later told AFP.

"The show tells the story of a beautiful dandy who is in love," saying he used male and female models -- the dominant trend in this year's menswear shows -- "because love is the same for us all".

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