The Fashion Network Dozen: Europe’s 12 best collections
The 17-day European menswear runway and salon season ended Sunday night in Paris. A four-city tour including some 150 shows and three times as many presentations. A voyage that began with a joint student collection in London, moved to Renaissance Florence, headed north to bustling Milan and finished in newly optimistic Paris in a 1930s Lycée. A season almost completely devoid of ties, where volume ruled and the meeting of technical sportswear and tailoring was the central theme.
Here, in our opinion and in alphabetical order, are the 12 best collections:
Alexander McQueen, Paris
Power rocker tailoring; subversive styling; laser leather cutting; outrageous use of zips (over a score on one all leather outfit worthy of Joe Strummer) and a remarkable tree-of-life embroidered topcoat. This was 21st century men’s couture at its best.
Dolce & Gabbana, Milan
Nobody does high-octane better than Domenico and Stefano, whose Playing Card signature collection was worn by a cast of millennial Instagram stars. Talk about Influencer chic, with surgically cut shiny silk suits in bitter orange or plum; silk pajamas in dazzling playing card prints, or fab raincoats starring the Jack of Clubs.
Edward Crutchley, London
Gender-bending continues to be a major obsession, and nowhere more so than Edward Crutchley. This Louis Vuitton graduate mixes dazzling jacquards and bold silk camouflages into gents in crinolines; geisha style kimonos and floral nighties. Not a single stitch of office wear, but London’s best show.
Emporio Armani, Milan
Giorgio Armani has always looked to Japan for inspiration. Rarely has that minimalism, sense of self-editing and cool aesthetic been so much in synch with Armani’s oeuvre as in this stylish Emporio show with its kimono jerkins; Hanten jackets with loops and toggles and marvelous golden sextet of tuxedos and Skajan bombers.
Ermenegildo Zegna, Milan
Sophisticated nomadic at Ermenegildo Zegna, where Alessandro Sartori developed a new billowing silhouette. Feather light jerkins in perforated leather or stripy silk, that practically floated, or thoroughly washed-out denim redingotes that wafted around a beautiful red-brick cloister in the University of Milan. For a mega-brand built on selling business suits to hard-charging young executives this was an epochal show.
The big message of the European season is that stylish entrepreneurs, Internet barons and art apparatchiks no longer wear suits in the summer. Instead, they want opulent yet multi-purpose clothes made for travel, different time zones and rapid changes in weather. Like this excellent collection from Rome-based Fendi with lightweight, and breathable, nylon suits in Madras prints; suede postman’s jerkins or Eisenhower jackets with mini leather Fendi plaques. Silicon Valley means the Eternal City.
Hed Mayner, Paris
An audience of 500 stood patiently in direct sun outside the Bourse, for the Paris debut of Israeli-born Hed Mayner. And the worth was more than worthwhile. A mind-boggling jumble of mannish striped cottons, canvas from vintage tents and furniture leather all assembled with gusto into splayed away waistcoats; or immense swirling jackets, in a way-out-there collection that announced the arrival of a new fashion star.
J.W. Anderson, Florence
A tour de force at Villa La Pietra of Sir Harold Acton. Where Jonathan Anderson riffed on pop culture ideas; souvenir tat and insider brand-building. The Ulsterman placed himself on one T-Shirt, in a corporal’s helmet, with the title, “Militant Men Wear J.W. Anderson. A memorable show above a balmy Florence, and a political meditation on gay rights inside a garden crammed with statues of naked gods.
Louis Vuitton, Paris
Island-hopping style at Louis Vuitton, where Kim Jones had the guts to break lots of rules, even as he wisely guides the men’s division of a seven-billion-euro empire. Scuba shorts for the city; fabulously oversized fine gray wool suits finished with mountaineers’ kit; excellent pacific blue monogram logo sandals. In the meeting of high-tech and modern travel, Jones remains the leader.
Thom Browne, Paris
Men in high-heeled brogues; or in faded gray wool sheathes; or in chalk stripe coatdresses; or elegantly cut pleated schoolmarm’s skirts. That makes this show sound slightly farcical, which it was not. Instead it was a bona-fide fashion moment where Browne’s encyclopedic knowledge of fashion history led a brilliant series of novel cuts, lines and proportions in men’s tailoring.
The show that most defined the new mood in menswear was Valentino. Retro casual street style, referencing the 80s and dressing men in tracksuits, parkas and flowing blousons. All finished with fabric strips, patches, slanted pockets, Velcro clasps, crystal and ethnic embroidery by designer Pierpaolo Piccioli. Call it sensitive-athletic-decision-maker chic.
Yohji Yamamoto, Paris
“It’s about how women can make you suffer,” smile Yohji backstage, looking tiny beside two huge NBA stars. Though the images in this brilliant collection were anything but fragile. Faux super heroines or literary lionesses stamped onto leather bombers; or giant smoky shots of a sexy Lady Macbeth or a latter day Mata Hari printed onto long kaftans. Seductive and artistic menswear.
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