By Erin Moonyeen Haley
Inspiration was an eclectic beast prowling the runways during Mens’ Paris Fashion Week 2023. Themes, colors and cuts were all over the place, paying homage to cozy layers, bold prints, svelte silhouettes and tailored touches.
Véronique Nichanian, artistic director of Hermes, declared that “Clothes need to feel beautiful against the skin, and they need to be practical too." For her, the men on the runway needed to channel the look of someone who was going places, a true cosmopolitan with an outrageous sense of wanderlust not yet fulfilled. That interplay of the practical with the posh, the restless with the regal was on full display as the Hermes runway became a land of leathery softness. With the Maison de l'Unesco as the venue, models eschewed traditional business attire of patterned ties and stiff suits, instead opting for luxurious turtlenecks and twinsets that were given a homey twist with patchwork that was meant to look like it had been done by hand in one's humble abode.
For Loewes, the dominating term was 'reductionist act', a math-meets-fashion approach where minimalism occupied the spotlight. Rather than overwhelm the eye, (or the body), with vests atop button-ups and jackets over jackets, Loewes stuck to plunging cowl necks, maxi wool, double-breasted jackets and singular bold colors that popped amid the siennas and the blacks. Jonathan Anderson - master of Loewes since 2013 - has long since put the focus on artistry over flare, all of which was evident in the tailored slacks and accents such as angel wings on rear-fastening shirts, a subtle nod to Renaissance-era master craftsmen.
Minimalism had no place in the lineup for Marine Serre. The show notes declared, "Each of us holds the power to help slow down the present accelerated timeline." The show was held in Grande Halle de la Villette, a historic building of iron and glasswork that boasts of intimate side rooms and a vast auditorium. The show was given the sobriquet "Rising Shelter" and promised dystopian looks and survivalist vibes. Upon entering the show, guests were greeted by three towers of denim and cotton t-shirts, a comment on voracious consumerism and sustainability. Along those lines of realism, the looks and models were meant to mimic the every day, rather than the unattainable. Models of all ages and body types wore a dynamic mix of patchwork argyle and denim that gave off decidedly 80s vibes. Unisex was one of the many thematic keywords, made evident as all models wore trucker hats, bowling shirts and oversized coats, letting the neutral colors of white, beige and cream dominate the show's palette.
"Study of the Natural World" was the leitmotif for Dries Van Noten's show and was inspired by the writings of German naturalist, Alexander von Humboldt who is credited with inventing ecology. Accompanied by a soundtrack courtesy of Lander & Adriaan - sonic experts in the 'sophisti-rave' - the clothing intermixed floral and fauna patterns with monochrome sleekness. Inspiration was specific, as the garments with nature-inspired textiles drew from the Meise Botanical Gardens in Belgium. The ready-to-wear collection was also intended to be thought-provoking. in both the clothing and the venue, which was a parking garage and not a lavish estate or historic building. While the word 'rave' was thrown around, the clothing did not adhere to any 90s aesthetic that called to mind light shows and Dee-Lite hyper ballads. Instead, the clothes were linen and lightweight, with breezy jackets with efflorescent swirls taking center stage. Delicate greenery was represented throughout the show, as were bird designs and palm trees that called to mind tropical sunsets over sweaty dance-offs.
Rick Owens channeled the grandiosity of LUXOR, with "Reduced Architectural Shapes with a Whiff of Sleazy Seventies Pseudo-Mysticism" for a memorable runway experience. The ambiance of the room was otherworldly, with fog and metal benches providing an apropos sensation for clothing that could have been the long-lost wardrobe from a shelved prequel in the Chronicles of Riddick oeuvre. There were sharp shoulders and platform shoes; bare chests and shaved heads. The glossy calfskin leather was old-school in that it was made by hand in a 25-step process in an Italian factory. Pirarucu fish skins, meanwhile, were tanned in Brazil and acquired via responsibly sourced means that benefited indigenous communities. Some garments bespoke of gilded age glamour, with sweeping capes and 'donuts', or, padded pieces. What changed the energy of the show, however, was. the balance between austerity and sexuality, where less was more and more was...well...more.
Old-school elegance rocked the runway for Wales Bonner. Looking at creative icons such as James Baldwin and Josephine Baker, there was an artistic effortlessness that made the languid downright luxurious. With an original soundtrack from Kendrick Lamar and artworks by Lubaina Himid, models sauntered through the interior of Hotel D'Evreux, a 17th-century gem with gorgeous, high windows in a show christened "Twilight Reverie". The hallmark of the clothing was the tailoring, which was best flaunted with double-breasted blazers, azure-blue crocodile-embossed leather trench coats, and bomber jackets. Preppy athleticism was also on display as Bonner's partnership with Adidas became evident in the new sneakers and the Adidas Original Superstar sneakers with a money print that said it all.
Images courtesy of Hypebeast.