PARIS MEN'S FASHION WEEK
Designers against racism and collaborations with artists
by KOD Staff
Walter van Beirendonck’s street cast models emerged onto the runway in tribal prints, red face markings and Native American headdresses. It was the headwear, made by Stephen Jones, which proved controversial. Daubed with the message “Stop Racism” in both English and Russian, these pieces draw attention to fashion’s hollow appropriation of cultural symbols – think bindis, tattoos and Chanel’s recent use of headdresses in Dallas.
Umit Benan also focused on the issue of race in a collection inspired by Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League baseball. Robinson’s acceptance into the Brooklyn Dodgers ended racial segregation in the sport. In 1947, it was a huge leap forward for civil rights. Benan’s models wore varsity jackets, sporty quilting and wide brimmed hats. Martin Luther King’s speech, “I have a dream” formed part of the soundtrack before Umit Benan ran out on the runway, brandishing a sign; “No to racism”.
Haider Ackermann’s show was perfectly suited to Paris. Dreamy and bohemian, pale models wore cravats and harem style pants. Layers, delicate prints and oversized coats added to the atmosphere of eccentric creativity – think Oscar Wilde wondering the city’s smoke-filled alley ways.
Oversized coats also feature in Valentino’s collection. The show featured Aztec prints and blocks of color, in the style of Mondrian. The collection was casual, including several striped suits which could almost be mistaken for pyjamas.
The prints in Yohji Yamamoto’s show seemed heavily influenced by nature – models wore an autumnal burnt red, earthy Aztec designs alongside leafy and floral patterns. Despite the skulls, the collection gave the impression of a bright and hopeful winter. No January blues here.
Designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, based the Kenzo show on the idea of seeing. To explain their philosophy, they told their audience; “There are things in life our eyes can not see, sometimes nature plays a trick, we imagine we are something other than we truly are”. Prints based on the landscape of Northwest America had an abstract design, leaving interpretation up to the viewer.
Rick Owens and Junya Watanabe both toyed with ideas of authority. To explain his collection, Rick Owens told the crowd, “I was thinking about how a young man reacts to authority, the way he is hard wired to reject it in order to move forward and create his own authority… A man who’s interested in dressing, is interested in expressing himself. And part of that is rejecting standards”. The collection was severe – with knee high boots and nun-like head coverings. Imposingly minimal, the show was a strong continuation of Owen’s alternative achievements.
The Junya Watanabe show used punk-style to symbolize their rejection of conventional values in menswear. Tartans, patched denim and combat boots were paired with traditional tweed to a soundtrack of Oasis. Models took the form of the rebellious English gentlemen who had grown tired of what’s expected of him. Bowler hats gave a clockwork orange edge – emphasizing unpredictability.
Lanvin also weaved punk into the AW14 collection with statement undercuts and biker jackets. Elegant coats and tailoring were embellished with monochrome mod prints and floor length scarves.
Raf Simons and Sterling Ruby’s collaborative collection treated clothes like canvas, with paint-like spatters, scrawled text and a collage effect. Artist, Sterling Ruby noted “The pace of fashion is a shock to me, art has a slower pace”. Together the pair merged the two creative worlds; the result was unique and entirely memorable.
In the Givenchy show, the influence of the art world was also clear. The collection indulged the spattered paint effect and smudged abstract shapes featured on several pieces. The clothes had an urban feel with baggy trousers, black caps and basketball vests. Yet most striking was the netted masks – giving models a feminine mystery.
Commes des Garcons Homme Plus created a sinister atmosphere with black wigs styled like gas masks, over the models’ faces. Holes and rips punctured the collection and the show’s setting – a derelict church – added to the eerie atmosphere.
The Saint Laurent show also took advantage of its setting for added atmosphere. In a 17th century Baroque hospital filled with LED lights, the audience sat cross legged on the floor. Creative Director, Hedi Slimane chose to collaborate with Raymond Pettibon – the New York artist best know for his Sonic Youth album art. The artist worked with Slimane on the season’s manifesto where comic book sketches and quotes by writers featured in a leather-bound book. The collection itself reinvented the classic blazer with leopard print, glitter and tartan. The clothes’ rockabilly influence and Slimane’s glowing reputation made the show an instant hit on Instagram.