Style collisions in Paris: Lemaire, Walter Van Beirendonck, LGN
This week, Paris has encapsulated the best in fashion. The menswear shows’ second day featured an explosive collision of the most diverse styles and fashion worlds. From Lemaire’s cosy chic to Walter Van Beirendonck’s gentle aliens and Louis-Gabriel Nouchi’s playful psychopaths, fashion aficionados were spoilt for choice on Wednesday.
Lemaire’s guests had been warned to “bring your mittens.” But more than mittens were required to deal with the arctic cold gripping the Sorbonne’s Jussieu campus' vast courtyard, the venue for the show. Welcomed with tea, coffee, a mini hot-water bottle and a blanket, guests did their best to keep warm, while the first models started to walk across the huge space open to the elements, swept by sharp gusts of wind.
Rail station hall, business district forecourt, or university entrance? Regardless, it was a public space coming to life before the guests’ eyes in a well-rehearsed ballet, with the hum of city traffic as its soundtrack. The models met, scrutinised each other, said hello. Some of them rested on a railing, others leaned against a column. Some stoped to chat on a bench, others all but ran across the forecourt.
Wrapped up in protective coats cinched at the waist by a belt, or in down gilets worn over thick sweaters, wearing wool or leather trousers, the models strolled back and forth, toing and froing ceaselessly. Men waved briefly at one another, portfolios under their arms, while women strut around clad in wool jackets and trouser skirts, the clack of their high-heeled boots resonating on the cobblestones. Some of them wore trousers, skirts, blouses, shirts and jackets in layers, all cut in the same light silk.
The collection designed by Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran featured ample coats, anoraks, fur-collared jackets, sweaters tied around the neck over loose cardigans, and duffel coats. The focus was on warm materials and comfortable cuts, favouring fluid lines. A model even showed up in a pyjama suit, while many opted for thick socks and slippers. An easy-going yet business-like attitude, signalled also by large cross-shoulder messenger bags, the kind that brims with files. The colour palette was neutral, autumnal. Only the occasional hint of red, or a touch of blue-grey and leaf green to brighten the collection.
Walter Van Beirendonck’s aliens made the audience wait for a good three quarters of an hour, but eventually landed on the red carpet of the Salle Wagram auditorium. They came outfitted with the likes of rubber suction pads, planted like mushrooms on their head, arms and torso, or incorporated into their chic tweed suits and monochrome vinyl outfits in red, black, green and other colours.
This inflatable accessory was also featured in transparent plastic. It could be round and small, or swell in size to create life-jacket-like coats, or affixed in the form of bloated pockets on the front of a jacket. In some cases, an entire jacket was made up of these mini buoys, equipped with mouthpiece and stopper so they can be inflated as required to reach the desired volume. Elsewhere, plastic bubble-wrap film is used to create a waterproof jacket.
The collection’s marine register was also evident in a series of items looking like brightly coloured fishing nets dotted with crystals, wrapped around heads or the torso like a body suit. Fishnet stockings riffed on the same theme. Van Beirendonck also used faux leather to make jackets and voluminous pants.
These strange characters landed on Earth as friends, a sentiment heralded by their sweaters with naive illustrations of planets populated by animals. As always, Walter Van Beirendonck expressed fervent anti-militarist feelings in its slogans.
The register couldn't be more different at Louis-Gabriel Nouchi, which plunged the audience into a horror film, with crimson lights, blood-splattered faces, long latex gloves and shirts, t-shirts ripped as though lacerated with a cutter, and dévoré jersey knitwear. Even the cellophane film used to wrap corpses made an appearance, fashioned into a skintight t-shirt.
Louis-Gabriel Nouchi drew his inspiration from Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho novel and its psychopathic main character, a bored rich kid turned serial killer, denouncing his violence and “toxic masculinity.” For Nouchi it was once again the opportunity to start a conversation resorting to genre features. Hence, in the guise of accessories, he introduced the inevitable axes and chainsaws, which he neutralised by covering them with recycled leather.
As a counterpoint, the collection included businessman looks with a focus on tailored items. The suits’ volumes and construction had been revisited, resulting in wide-shouldered jackets with slightly dropping sleeves, for a 1980s look. Some jackets were pinched on one side for a draped effect. Formal total looks in blue or black and long coats with side slits were succeeded by activewear outfits featuring Lycra leggings, worn directly under flowing shirts or jackets.
This season, Nouchi created several leather items in partnership with Ecco Laser, a producer of a type of transparent skin-like leather obtained by tanning parchment, a material Nouchi used for suits, t-shirts and longline overcoats.
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