Paris Men's Fashion Week: Valentino, Raf Simons, and More
Day 1 of 5 Paris Men's Fashion Week
Vibe: The Sophistication of Military. Ever since Valentino presented its first runway show back in fall 2012, there were pieces here and there that showed the powerful weapon the Valentino man could become. Recently, its spring 2013 military collection has been selling like hot pancakes with their camouflage sneakers being one of the most demanding shoes of the season. Fall 2013 became one of the most PERFECT collections in menswear that depicted Valentino's sartorial couture craftsmanship so beautifully. And for its new spring 2014 men's collection, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli felt it was adequate to make its militant bespoke designs an official signature of the Valentino man.
The show began with a series of suits and shirt jackets beautifully split into various shades of denim that felt invigoratingly new to the brand. One blue denim parka was a stand innovation for the duo; so light and tailored. Others pieces noteworthy were their second olive and navy numbers that included a suit, coat, and parka as well. What were worth an investment were their leather shirt jackets - in burgundy, and olive - that looked so appealing with their black etched tape lining around one pocket, and epaulets that described the militant mood of the collection. Other illusional black leather tape linings followed in tan, electric blue, gray, navy, and camouflage print jackets and sweaters.
Trousers, which at far appeared to be only camouflage prints, when viewed closed enough were actually faded prints of daisies infused with its military design. Other printed trousers paired with sharp white t-shirts looked somewhat too casual (rebellious) for the Valentino man, but were intriguing to watch a new style emerge. Formalwear was by far much more of a synthesis of bespoke than a seasonal men's collection. In other words an impeccable high luxury "couture" triumph for Chiuri and Piccioli.
Vibe: Safety Pins and Urban Raincoats. Balenciaga is still a developing brand that is perhaps less successful in its menswear division than its womenswear collections. Alexander Wang has been taking the brand in a very different route. Since been appointed creative director, he's developed a signature symbol for the house: the maillon, which is a thicker metal that resembles a safety pin. They were obvious in suits and pants, which created a sort of punk-y style to the looks. Tailoring wasn't so appreciable. He also included two dark-striped raincoats which made it confusing to understand the inspiration behind this collection. There were in fact new elements in the collection that were of Wang's influence: sleek leather black boots, knitwear, and pleasing shorts that were cut just above the knee. Wang has in fact established a good reputation to the Balenciaga woman, but there is still more work to be done in its menswear line.
Vibe: The Freedom of Simons. Raf Simons is a show that will never leave you disappointed. Simons keenly knows how to leave you with doubt if this is what menswear will look like in the future? He uses the future to his advantage to deliver a show with high-fashion structure in fabric, design, and battle against severe masculinity. That was the shocking opening for his new spring 2014 men's collection. The first model came out in a full one-piece black outfit that resembled a shorter version of an adult onesie.
Those are Simons' influence, so NEW that a specific name for this designs didn't come to mind. The Simons shirt romper? Simons' can be better known for his fine taste in tailoring, but in this collection everything was about "freedom." His suits were more relaxed, but his pants much more skinnier to give it a special mood with those innovative sneakers. T-shirts were "the new shape of comfort," as one shirt implied. Other florescent embroidered shirts declared why Simons' is one of the best in menswear t-shirts.
There was a variety of compulsive pieces to choose from in this collection. It may just have to be viewed with a separate eye for each design. Raf Simons' menswear collection is one of the most anticipated shows in Paris Men's Fashion Week due to his unique ideas that are only available at his presentation. He introduced us to cheetah prints, floral prints, abstract art, shorts spliced deep in the sides, and much more graphical techniques. At this point of his career he should be proud of himself to say I made that men's shirt romper first. It may take time though for most men to get comfortable in a new type of skin.