Jun 29, 2009
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Quiet anti-conformity at Paris Men's Fashion Week

Jun 29, 2009

PARIS, June 28, 2009 (AFP) - Paris rose up against fashion diktats and wardrobe conformism at the five-day whirl of men's shows ending Monday 29 June, casting off suits and ties for classy comfort based on mixing, matching and layering.

Yves Saint Laurent spring-summer 2010
Photo : PixelFormula

The conventional two-piece business suit was almost nowhere to be seen at the 50-odd spring-summer 2010 catwalk presentations held in the capital of fashion, which began with Yves Saint Laurent and closed with Smalto.

Its emblematic accessory, the tie, likewise slipped off stage, popping up expectedly at longtime luxury tie-makers Hermes and Lanvin, but little shown elsewhere as designers instead opted for scarves, hats or glasses to liven up collections.

"The suit is no longer an outfit," said the head of the powerful Couture Federation Didier Grumbach in Paris.

"Men's clothes now are as inventive as those for women," he told AFP. "More and more men are ready to take risks, there are plenty of things available other than the suit."

John Galliano spring-summer 2010 - Photo : PixelFormula

With the luxury industry worried over the economic crisis, top designers mixed and matched jackets and pants with a plethora of waistcoats and even T-shirts, putting the accent on wearability and durability.

"We took our inspiration from the street, seeing what men want to wear," said Lanvin's highly-rated designer team, Dutchman Lucas Ossendrijver and Israeli Alber Elbaz.

"This collection is anti-uniform," said Elbaz. "It is for men we know, men who love to dress."

"One day you wear something classical, the next day a T-shirt, there is no uniform," said Ossendrijver.

Likewise at Louis Vuitton, where singers Keziah Jones and The Black Eyed Peas hogged front row seats, designer Paul Helbers threw out designs inspired by New York City's bike messengers that were cut for functionality, with jackets short and trousers rolled up for protection.

Jean Paul Gaultier spring-summer 2010
Photo : PixelFormula

Sleeveless jackets, short jackets, waistcoats, low-slung pants and harem trousers were popular throughout the shows. Layering one's clothes, with shirts, tunics or T-shirts poking out at different lengths below jackets, was also a regular theme.

Pants came in all lengths and shapes, as shorts, bermudas, above the ankle to show the shoe, rolled up, slim and baggy -- but large and comfortable trousers seemed the flavour of the day.

France's whacky Jean Paul Gaultier put testosterone sailor-types in wide pants with gender-bending bustiers, Kenzo's explorers wore wide rumpled trousers for the Africa sun and even legendary British designer John Galliano sent his Napoleon Bonaparte-inspired models out in loose trousers.

In fact, years of skinny-silhouette domination seemed over this week when the style-setting house of Dior, always one of the most closely-watched shows, went for large rather than slim.

Dior Homme spring-summer 2010 - Photo : PixelFormula

Men's clothes, said Dior's 33-year-old star Belgian designer, Kris Van Assche, need to be "more comfortable, soft and modern for today's use."

Like others, Van Assche paraded wide fluid trousers worn with layers of tank tops and shirts and went for models with muscles and physique, rather than the sapling-thin often androgynous men favoured by his predecessor Hedi Slimane.

"I think this season is a turning-point," said consultant for the LVMH luxury group Jean-Jacques Picart.

"The designers clearly have become aware that it is harder to bring in the cash."by Claire Rosemberg

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