Paris Fashion Week Recap, Part II
Louis Vuitton boiled celebrity guests in a sweltering greenhouse. Rick Owens caked models in chalk paint, while Issey Miyake made clothes from bananas.
Such was Thursday, an average day of vibrant eccentricity, in Paris’ spring-summer 2015 menswear calendar.
Here are the highlights and show reports from Day Two of ready-to-wear.
CELEBRITIES IN HEAT
The sun was all too much for the front-row at Louis Vuitton.
Unfortunately, the storied Parisian house also hosted the spring-summer show in a real-life greenhouse without air-conditioning - causing "The Hobbit" actor Luke Evans, model Jon Kartagena and American football star Victor Cruz to sweat it out and fan themselves with the program notes as the show started tardily.
Designer Kim Jones travelled to India to conceive the show. Was the hothouse setting his way of making guests embody the geographical theme?
Issey Miyake got it just right. The Franco-Japanese house handed out powder ice-packs before their collection that activate when snapped.
LOUIS VUITTON’S BRIGHT 70s ODE TO INDIA
It was Rajasthan in vogue for Louis Vuitton.
Jones gave the legendary northwestern Indian region - known as the land of kings - a stylish reworking with a retro, 70s twist.
Silk organza - inspired by turban fabrics with dynamic zigzag stripes - were reimagined as highly wearable semi-sheer wide short-sleeved shirts. And the colors of double-breasted suits in rust, blue, sage, orange and pink conjured up the sub-continental palette.
Despite the soft colorings, this strong Jones outing also had a stiff military backbone. High-waisted pants with long, straight legs, shiny buckle belts, large uniform-style pockets, epaulettes and military shorts in tan played with vestimentary codes of the Indian army.
The set - huge enigmatic pale discs - went even further back in time, apparently inspired by a Rajasthan king who built an astronomical observatory in the early 18th century. The historic musing spawned dubious classical mirror embroidery - with LV engraved discs - on flight jackets.
But overall the collection got a loud and well-deserved round of applause.
ISSEY MIYAKE MAKE CLOTHES OUT OF FRUIT
It was a show for "tropical dandies" at Issey Miyake, as the Paris sun shined high in the sky.
The tropical was in jellyfish motifs, fruit prints, stunning cobalt blue dyes and in an inventive linen material that mixed abaca - woven wild banana - with pineapple yarns.
But the best part, the dandy, was found in multi-layered silhouettes and in the stiff roughness of linen fabricated on old weaving machines.
Designer Yusuke Takahashi loves his techno-fibers.
The abaca produced the strongest looks - like a loose fitting double breasted jacket with a dandy-esque tassled-scarf underneath, a billowing Japanese maxi coat in light gray, or crinkled cobalt blue shorts that a modern flaneur might don in his walks about town.
Less successful were the psychedelic prints in vivid yellows and blues, which had a sporty edge but diminished the subtlety of the rich material.
Apart from being stylish, it was possibly the first time in Paris a catwalk show could have been bought at a fruit market.
RICK OWENS MELTS
Rick Owens was inspired by the Ballet Russes’ "The Faun’s Afternoon" - and their famed costume designer Leon Bakst - for the gothic American designer’s typically eccentric menswear offering.
The program notes were impenetrable, but the collection could be read as a play on volume, deconstruction and inside-out - and, even, softening up.
The silken lining of suit jackets was used on the outside in tunics, sometimes in voluminous patchwork, while hems were turned inside-out.
Black coats amassed in clumped shapes were held in place by a shoulder strap - throwing functionality to the wind. Models’ bodies were sometimes painted entirely with white chalk.
Blurring fashion and art, this was Owens’ most developed collections in seasons.
At times a garment - like a huge white shirt - seemed to melt down the body and gathered at the bottom.
Owens is a combative designer. But here the sense of war, conveyed through almost Spartacus-era loincloths and breast harnesses, came in paradoxically soft colors like gray, pale blue and pink, suggesting a softer direction for a prince of darkness.
DRIES VAN NOTEN
Dries Van Noten mixed, matched and found unexpected common ground in the texture of clothes as diverse as basketball shirts, ballet flats, Asiatic silk dressing gowns and embroidered Indian waistcoats.
The silhouette, slim but flowing, saw straps across the torso, and then as breeches, mirroring the straps in the footwear.
Basketball jerseys emblazoned with the number "71" and sports vests featured alongside satin gowns in shimmering caramel and decorative Indian patterns on silky bomber jackets. But contradictions melted away with a blink of the eye in the common suppleness of the 51 diaphanous looks.
Only Van Noten, one of Paris fashion weeks most accomplished designers, could have produced such a subtle dance.