This past men’s fashion week was marked by a sense of schizophrenia more than anything else. Half of the shows in Paris were held in opulent palatial spaces and the other half in basements stripped of everything but their concrete foundations. The reactions of critics and buyers were similarly split. The editors I spoke with mostly shrugged shoulders and talked of consistently lowering expectations, while buyers thought the season more than solid.
Dries Van Noten Fall/Winter 2016 Men’s collection, Paris.
Photographer: Wenjun Liang, Model: Yudu Zheng @ IMG, Stylist: Christine de Lassus @ Art Department, Stylist Assistant: Armando Figueredo, Make Up: Miguel Lledo, Hair : Shinya Nakagawa
“Nothing,” answered a prominent New York buyer when I asked her what she liked during this past men’s fashion week. While I wouldn’t go this far, the Spring/Summer 2016 season was decidedly mixed. The overarching question, which began forming in my head during the first day of shows in Paris was, “What makes a good collection?” Is it the theme or its execution? Do we look for a designer to tell an interesting story, to interpret a theme worth exploring through clothes, or to produce beautiful, interestingly constructed garments? Ideally, both.
Two weeks ago I got to see the Dries Van Noten: Inspirations exhibit at MoMu, Antwerp’s fashion museum. As the title suggests, the exhibit provides a glimpse into Van Noten’s world, and the influences that feed the wellspring of his creativity.
I have already seen the initial version of the exhibit at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. It was received with typical fanfare that the fashion press is all too ready to dispense. But while I liked it overall, I was so exhausted by the two floors of continuous explosion of color and ornament that I was happy to get some fresh Parisian air when I finally got out.
Let me get something out of the way – though my writing is critical more often than not, I don’t particularly enjoy blasting fashion. So, it is with a certain elation I would like to report that this past men’s fashion week in Paris was one of the strongest I’ve seen in a while.
For me it began last Wednesday night when Haider Ackermann presented his most convincing collection yet. Everything seemed to coalesce – from the muted but rich color palette to lush fabrics to nonchalant styling. It was presented at the Galleria museum, and the presentation and the clothes were just the right shade of decadence, a fantasy world of the rich and idle whose saving grace is impeccable education and impeccable manners.