What I learned: Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2018
They say that everything's a teachable moment. For our Associate Fashion Editor, his time at the Paris Fashion Week was a school session. Here are the 10 things that he picked up.
BY Eugene Lim | Jan 25, 2018 | Fashion
1. Rain shall not halt the beauty that is Paris
Gloomy skies, constant showers, and bone-chilling winds were not the ideal weather conditions for the fashion hordes descending upon the City of Lights, but Paris' disarming allure made up for it. Found the traffic horrible for commuting show to show? The well-connected Parisian subway made up for lost time. What about the less than ideal lighting conditions for street style photography? Fashion editors and buyers showed us how to dress for the grey skies: injecting pops of bright colour into their outfits.
2. Streetwear is on the decline
Last season, streetwear culture dominated. Now, the sword of Damocles hangs above its exposed neck in the middle of a square filled with gawkers. So long, oversized hoodies, bomber jackets, and loud sneakers. It was good while it lasted.
3. Comfort is key at Hermès and Jil Sander
So, while streetwear is shown the fashion backdoor, at least we can still look forward to comfort. It still reigns high on the list of qualities men look for in their clothes. Like the collections sent out by Hermès and Jil Sander. The former exemplified Parisian elegance with slim knitted pullovers and cardigans, shearling coats, and silk jacquard suits.
Jil Sander, on the other hand, took a minimalistic approach to comfort. Stripping away all hardware, an emphasis was, instead, given to the cuts and fabrication of the garments. Think: roomy knitwear and voluminous outerwear accessorised with furry hand warmers and quilted blankets, either slung over shoulders or fastened around the waist.
4. Dior and Paul Smith refocused their house codes
From Dior Homme, where Kris Van Assche has held the fort for a successful decade, to Sir Paul Smith, who first started his namesake label in 1970, the two labels spent time examining and updating the foundations of their houses.
Dior Homme's fall/winter 2018 collection was an amalgamation of Christian Dior's legacy with Van Assche's memories of his youth. Van Assche pored over the manuals left behind by Dior to update the tailoring techniques of the famed couturier into slim-cut suits for the season. For the rest of the collection, references were drawn from the club kids of his teenage years — baggy denim jeans, the layering of polos over long-sleeved T-shirts — while the print of the season, a tribal tattoo, was a tongue-in-cheek nod to the regretful choice of ink in the 90s.
Over at Paul Smith, there's a renewed focus on classic tailoring with a twist. The result was the mixing of different fabrics, like tartan and wool, into the same tailored coat or blazer, or leather biker jackets and cable-knit pullovers constructed from different coloured panels.
5. All work and no break makes for one burned out fashion editor
It's easy to get sucked into the maelstrom that is fashion week with a packed schedule of shows, resee appointments and presentations. I learned that the best way to recharge was with a hearty meal as well as some retail therapy.
The closing of Colette left a huge dent in the retail landscape, but fans of the store can look forward to Nous — a multi-label boutique opened by a couple of ex-Colette staff members to fill the gap. Located at 48 Rue Cambon, the store carries many of the brands found in Colette, but this time with a focus on menswear. More than just sharing a similar stocklist, Nous plans to uphold the Colette legacy by partnering with different collaborators as well as having a monthly rotation of the storefront.
6. More is better...
First two from left: Comme des Garcons Homme Plus Fall/Winter 2018. First two from right: Yohji Yamamoto Fall/Winter 2018.
As a maximalist, my personal style works with layers of multiple fabrics and prints to create a look that often toes the line between sculptural and looking straight-up bulbous. As such, it's no surprise that both collections of Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto brought me great pleasure.
At Comme des Garçons Homme Plus, Kawakubo worked with comic prints on a silhouette that played with the juxtaposition of voluminous quilted trousers and fitted asymmetrical jackets. Yohji Yamamoto's collection featured his signature voluminous layers, all served in black, white and red, with a collage of prints that included Kanji as well as a photograph of the younger Yamamoto with a single tear.
Both share a strong narrative, showing clothes that transcend storytelling by transforming into living and breathing organisms.
7. ... but sometimes less is more
That said, I was strangely drawn to Haider Ackermann's Berluti fall/winter 2018 collection. Consisting of mostly monochromatic pieces, the styling was simple yet elegant. For example: A belted leather trench coat styled with its collars turned up and paired with matching leather trouser, or a buttoned-up nylon raincoat worn with a simple white T-shirt and sky blue leather trousers.
It was a deceptively simple collection — you feel like you could replicate the looks with pieces from your wardrobe — but God was in the details. With an expert eye for colours, fabrication as well as craftsmanship, Ackermann elevated classic clothing into garments that evoke both mood and beauty. It's a collection so hauntingly beautiful, that it has me rethinking my dress sense.
8. The last hooray at Louis Vuitton
The Louis Vuitton fall/winter 2018 collection marks the end of the Kim Jones era; one that saw him lead the menswear department from strength to strength over the last seven years. In his tenure, Jones kicked open new doors and diversified the brand's pool of fans through streetwear collaborations with the likes of Supreme and Hiroshi Fujiwara of Fragment Design, as well a collection that paid tribute to one of his idols, Christopher Nemeth. He did all this — appealing to both the fashion crowd and hypebeasts — without alienating Louis Vuitton's existing clients.
Louis Vuitton will always be known for its covetable range of accessories, but the genius of Jones was his ability to elevate the ready-to-wear collection into the same realm, while not straying too far from the maison's spirit of travel.
His last collection was his most personal. Prints of the Kenyan landscape taken by Jones himself (where he spent his formative years) were remixed over the Louis Vuitton monogram and applied to a plethora of light parkas, coats, and even leggings. The rest of the collection was filled by functional blousons paired with backpacks, shearling coats, and macs.
We might be reading too much into this, but the last two looks were monogrammed trench coats modelled by Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss. British models wearing trench coats — a signature of Burberry. Could this be a sign of things to come?
9. The times they are a-changin'
It's currently musical chairs in the fashion industry. Hedi Slimane has just been confirmed at Céline, with plans to launch a menswear label among a new couture and fragrance line, but there are still a couple of voids left to be filled.
There are two predictions:
(a) As mentioned before, Kim Jones and Phoebe Philo to join Burberry and take over the menswear and womenswear lines respectively; and
(b) Virgil Alboh to take over menswear at Louis Vuitton. Imagine if Alboh announced a collaboration with Champion? Hypebeasts around the world would lose their collective minds and start camping outside the Louis Vuitton stores.
10. Dunhill London takes a surprising turn
One of the pleasant surprises of Paris Fashion Week definitely belonged to Dunhill. The classic suit jackets and coats that the brand is known for were given a modern boxy facelift. But it’s wasn't all sartorial though. It was the collection’s leather outerwear where creative director David Weston truly shined. Consider this: quilted leather jackets that hinted at the leather upholstery found in car seats and a leather jacket that took inspiration from race car suits.
The addition of mock neck tops and T-shirts bearing the Dunhill London logo was also a clever appeal to a younger audience. Overall, Weston (who after a first season of finding his feet), has managed to draw a balance between proposing a silhouette for the modern man, without isolating their existing customer. He kept his promise of an evolution of the house, not a revolution. Now that's a right step into the new year.