Image and Video Credit Paris Fashion Week, Featured Designers and Vogue
The highly anticipated Paris Fashion Week kicked off hot on the heels of Milan, showcasing a core of stalwart designers, notably Japanese maestro Yohji Yamamoto, Belgian Dries Van Noten, French house Givenchy and American legend Rick Owens. Relatively new to the mix is South African design prodigy Lukhanyo Mdingi, and acclaimed Homme Plissé designer Issey Miyake who also made a long awaited return to the circuit this year.
Trends were aplenty and included the exuberant use of colour – even in the case of designers like Yohji Yamamoto and Rick Owens who notoriously prefer to stick to a demure set of (mostly) dark shades. This time around we saw vibrant summery shades all over the catwalk. Bold colour blocking, the mixing of unusual shades in one ensemble, pattern on pattern and oversized logos were also paraded across the runway. Skirts, kilts, aprons and dresses were spotted in many of the collections and shorts (as per Milan Fashion Week) were definitely a ‘thing’! Which left knees exposed and inevitable gagged for innovative footwear – in the case of Dries Van Noten, gorgeous cowboy boots!
Sit back and enjoy our selection of the very best from the first few days of Paris Menswear
South African superstar designer Lukhanyo Mdingi lit up Paris Mens Fashion Week 2023 with a healthy dose of African sunshine. The shades of his continent, ochre, regal purple and terracotta were juxtaposed with lemon yellow, leaf green and the softest of lavender and turquoise, his silhouettes elegant and shapely, organic and relaxed. This collection, that is aptly titled ‘Burkina” – where Mdingi has much of his textiles created, showcases examples of exquisite crafting, from weaving, knitting and tie-dying to beautifully styled and tailored pieces. Transparent, softest and finest South African mohair knitted dresses and vests rub shoulders with pleated skirts, grungy T-shirts and sporty polo shirts in a collection that is non-binary and all-inclusive to the full. Mdingi’s signature mixed-media knitted, woven and fringed scarves and stoles are the backbone of his inimitable creations that are flying off the shelves of Selfridges and Net-A-Porter as we speak.
Cargo pants, black t-shirts, track suits and zippered motorcycle trousers – how could anyone not love those boys’ staples? Creative director Matthew Williams thought so too, “You know, I think everything about the brand is grounded in reality. I could see this guy, how he looks, existing on the street. And for me, that’s a really modern approach to fashion.” Oh, and did we mention that unmistakable logo? It’s everywhere, blazened onto tops and bottoms, across the forehead on headbands and sweatbands, and they look fabulous for it! This is a collection that’s intended to effortlessly take you from working at home to sweating at the gym, with just enough swag, glamour and branding to make you feel rather special too. Salmon pink and grass green are accessorised with padlock pendants, earrings and low-slung belts. All very real and very groovy.
Watch Givenchy’s show here:
A designer who has over the decades showed us that relaxed, voluminous clothing can be elegant pieces of art too, has brought a collection to Paris Fashion Week (after a long absence) that reconfirmed this ethos. The most interesting aspect of the collection was the exuberance of colour and pattern that intercepted Miyake’s restrained and typically sombre-hued ensembles. Red – from raspberry to coral, yellow – lemon to sunshine, green – waterlily to olive, purple – lavender to grape and blue – turquoise to cobalt, stood their ground amidst the black, echru and grey palettes. But there wasn’t a lot of standing on the ground, mind you! Miyake’s dancers propelled each other off the ground in a show of freedom of movement par excellence. Culottes and tunics, relaxed shirts and stretch tops all looked simply scrumptious and easy to wear, all forming part of a palette that was extremely cheery and unmistakably Spring Summer.
Watch Issey Miyake’s show here:
Theatrical as ever, with signature smoke billowing from the set, a runway of epic proportions (inspired by the site of the Ptolemaic Temple of Horus in Egypt where Owens had holidayed recently), models on dizzyingly high platform boots carefully navigated the terrain in a show that could only ever be that of Rick Owens. Orbs of 3m in diameter were airlifted by a crane parked in the centre of the runway to land in a fountain to dramatic effect. This collection is entitled Edfu, in reference to said Ptolemaic Temple, and it may well present the end of the world as we know it. As for the clothes, the unmistakable Owens silhouettes in their post-apocalyptic shapes – overly long flaired trousers, cargo pants, belted coats, voluminous shoulders batwings and killer platforms in the characteristic dark shades were all there, but added this time (Owens feeling summery perchance?) were the splurts of unexpectedly vibrant colour – rainbow-hued green, shocking pink, sunshine yellow… If this is the end of the world as we know it, bring it on!
Watch Rick Owens’ show here:
The absence of Louis Vuitton’s late creative director, the inimitable Virgil Abloh, was felt everywhere – in the crowds hugging the runway near the Louvre, behind the scenes backstage and on the catwalk too – as models showcased the full spectrum of the rainbow on the bright yellow runway. Abloh was a man who embraced the idea of free play – in life and in work – and his collaborative creative designers for this 2023 collection made sure they incorporated this ethos. Paper aeroplanes landed on jackets, child-like folded white leather hats were spotted on models’ heads and coats were embellished with tools from the shed. Naïve embroidery and crafty patches embellished garments, faux fur in the brightest of shades created pieces that were, well, decidedly cuddly-toy-like! Some ensembles could’ve walked straight from a child’s storybook, fairy-tale florid and spring-like. Logos were hand-embroidered in kiddies crayon strokes. It’s a collection that paid tribute to one of its greatest formative creatives, a collection in which the right brain dominated, but perfectly juxtaposed with left-brain sensibilities and order – painstaking and controlled tailoring, flying the flag of the Vuitton brand loudly and clearly.
Watch Louis Vuitton’s show here:
Another signature performance from the great maestro of Japanese avant-garde, and one in which every atom of every offering had the master’s fingerprint on it. We’ve become accustomed to every Yohji show being a conceptual masterpiece – from the signature music that’s carefully incorporated (often Yamamoto, now pushing 80, plays and sings to his tracks) to the models he hand-picks and of course the creations on show. Danny Boy and Elvis’ Trouble were amongst the chosen tracks this time while Edward Scissorhand-esque models with grey streaks in their hair displayed Yohji’s inimitable layered, impeccably tailored silhouettes. Layering was a key trend: aprons were worn over loose-fitting slacks and pleated-hemmed half-skirts. Patchwork appeared in many guises, sometimes as naive appliques and at other times incorporated into garments as panels, and often in vibrant shades. A standout piece was the striking turquoise three-piece with its traditional Japanese drawings on a waistcoat and trouser leg. Lettering – at times overt and sometimes less so – formed a part of this, yet another, extraordinary collection. As ever with any of Yohji Yamamoto’s collections, words can’t come close to describing the beauty, the intricacy and genius of this designer. Best to sit back and watch the show, music & all.
Watch Yohji yamamoto’s show here:
DRIES VAN NOTEN
The undisputed king of the art of colour, texture and pattern found inspiration for his Spring Summer 2023 collection in the subcultures of Paris’ Zazous (who deliberately dressed up in defiance of Nazi occupation in the 1940s) and London’s Buffalo with their queer, anti-authoritarian dress-code in the face of the UK’s Margaret Thatcher. Wide legged trousers, patchwork, cummerbunds, camisoles, strappy tops, stripes, florals, lettering and more all made it into this eclectic collection. As ever the colourist, Van Noten’s eye for ‘what’s next’ colour-wise was evident in the burgundy (which all of a sudden looked very fresh and ‘must-have’), similarly the old gold and ochres that are woven into so many of the ensembles. Cowboy boots were worn with shorts and knees on display, Western-style shirts and Japanese-inspired kimono styles were thrown into the mix too, and worked a treat alongside the pinstriped, dandy suits, coats and the satin track bottoms and zip-up tops. “Garage scene grifters, cowboys, sleepy dreamers,” Van Noten aptly calls his collection, which is grungy in the very best possible way.