When covering European Fashion Weeks, it’s easy to forget about clothes altogether. Some of the most talked about moments in Milan and Paris earlier this month had more to do with celebrity cameos than actual menswear. Here is just a smattering of distractions: in Milan, rapper Machine Gun Kelly walked the Dolce & Gabbana show! His new girlfriend Megan Fox was also in town wearing a “Sex” T-shirt!
62-year-old Kyle MacLachlan opened the Prada show, and 69-year-old Jeff Goldblum closed it with a bizarre strut along the catwalk that conjured up one of the aliens from “Mars Attacks”! The soundtrack of the Kenzo show in Paris included a new song by Pusha T! Pharrell Williams wore Tiffany & Co. sunglasses studded with 61 diamonds! Julia Fox and the artist formerly known as Kanye West dressed up as bondage lovers!
But under all the headlines on FoxYe and the deceptions attempted by the brand’s marketing teams (“oh please, please write about this celebrity we paid to model for us”), the clothes were still there. In some cases they were even fantastic. Despite the brawl, the fundamental purpose of these weeks is to introduce designs that will hit stores in a few months. So let’s talk about some clothes.
Two years into the pandemic, it was a relief to see some mature clothes on the runway. These weren’t compromised in elastic waist, but dressed in real polish. Zegna’s collection was studded with aubergine single-breasted suits, ethereal cream sweaters and impressive pleated trousers. Parisian brand Lemaire offered a vision of cozy opulence with wrap-around trench coats and loose graphite dresses. And the camel-colored overcoats and cobalt blue shirts of the Turkish-born Milanese designer Umit Benan were cut so well that they almost made me want to go back to work from an office. Almost.
At the other end of the spectrum, but no less common, were garments that suggested a sense of youthful abandon. The JW Anderson show in Paris featured kitschy duck and elephant patterned shirts, tank tops that looked like they were made of mottled ribbons, and blocky Mary Jane shoes. The French label Casablanca proposed a summer yellow puffer jacket and cherry red sneakers. And New York-based brand KidSuper delivered cartoon print pants and patched fleece jackets. Even as understated luxury returns, it seems Kidcore fashion isn’t fading entirely yet.
The 68 look show was the latest collection designed by Virgil Abloh, the brand’s visionary creative director, who died last November at the age of 41. Mr. Abloh, who has battled a rare form of cancer, was clearly agitated by a frenzy of ideas. Among the many models and silhouettes were some standout elements, most notably formal black dresses with hourglass waistlines and emerald-colored blazer in crinkled velvet. Also worth mentioning: wild creations such as overcoats with fruitful floral prints, jeans with monogrammed logos that alluded to imitations of Canal Street and bags with strange decorations that looked like they were taken from rock climbing. The show, which was set to an orchestral soundtrack arranged by Tyler, the Creator, ended with a series of models wearing angel wings.
Kenzo, an extravagant debut
The Kenzo show marked the first collection designed by the brand’s new creative director, Nigo, the 51-year-old mononymous Japanese designer formerly known for founding the pioneering brand A Bathing Ape in 1993. His debut collection for Kenzo was not rich. of the sneakers and bags that have become so crucial to the profits of many labels. Instead, the focus was on the clothes (how refreshing!), Which were clearly excellent, especially the hooded sheepskin jackets, a smooth emerald green western shirt and plaid three-button suits reminiscent of Carnaby Street in the ‘ 60.
The soundtrack included songs from Nigo’s next album (he’s a musician too – designers can’t do just one thing these days) with Kid Cudi, Lil Uzi Vert and Pusha T. A smuggled, minute long video snippet of the segment of the show with the song of Pusha T zoomed in on Twitter the next day, getting over 700,000 views and bringing the name of Pusha T, not Kenzo, to be trending on the social media platform. By comparison, a clip from the event posted on Kenzo’s official YouTube page has just over 7,000 views. How is it that fashion is being eclipsed?
Also of note
Rick Owens’ mighty show featured models wearing hats to which tubular light bulbs were applied (think Dan Flavin’s mini sculptures), as if they were cartoon characters who had just come up with a brilliant idea. The hats were meme fodder that filled my Instagram feed all week.
Belgian designer Dries Van Noten’s vast and expansive collection included a pair of gigundo white trousers reminiscent of the Oxford Bags, the super baggy dress pants worn by students at Oxford in the 1920s and 1930s. To a younger audience, they likely look like JNCO jeans, which are enjoying a comeback.
The pitched cap was the hat of the season, presented by Dior Men, Rhude and Kenzo. I already wrote about this Francophile chapeau in 2019. Here are Cliff’s notes if you are not a model: wear it at your own risk.
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