Sportswear and tailoring. Sporty tailoring. Tailored sportswear. On day three of the shows in Paris, menswear increased its sartorial pulse.
Perhaps it’s the added weight of a very rich season, but on the third day of the Paris men’s shows designers got decidedly sporty. “My first obsession in life was basketball,” Riccardo Tisci said after a Givenchy show dedicated to the golden game of hoops. “I used to play when I was young but at sixteen I had an operation on my right knee, so I stopped.” Sad as the story was it explained the designer’s dreamy and glamorising approach to the game, expressed not just in the show design – it was built as a huge basketball court surrounded by net – but in a collection that took the basketball uniform and made it intensely elegant. A new kind of volume defined the collection, baggier in sportswear and skinnier in tailoring, while Bauhaus – another “obsession” of Tisci’s – was evident in the geometrical prints, which, along with a fur print, constituted Givenchy’s new, much more demure departure from the motifs that have made Tisci’s so-called trophy jumpers the most worn in fashion.
“It was about taking these very traditional symbols for traditional tailoring and making them sporty – or even pop-ish at the end – by isolating them, blowing them up, plastifying them, or photo-printing them, always starting from this traditional design,” Kris van Assche explained after his show. Ever the whizz-kid, van Assche took his thesis to the max, scattering magnified, multi-coloured pieces of herringbone pattern on sporty tops like team insignia, and exposing classic tailoring fabrics to treatments that made them look shiny and sporty. The collection introduced a kind of activewear vest the designer referred to as a “body warmer”, which, when worn under a blazer, signified van Assche’s sporty take on a new three-piece suit. “It’s this weird mixture of sporty and elegant. That’s always my mindset,” he said, noting that he’d felt like a more colourful approach to winter this season.
The John Galliano show notes included words such as “the cyclist blouson”, “the racing coat”, and “the sprinter”, and as models sped down the catwalk in graphic leggings and shiny, sportified outerwear to the epic fanfare of Can You Feel It, there was an unmistakable ‘making of Rocky’ quality to Bill Gaytten’s show, which echoed a lot of the rave spirit Paris has dug out of its 90s drawers this week. Even at Berluti, the sartorial keeper of the formal wardrobe, sportswear snug its way in as the luxury menswear purveyor over them all tried out a new presentation format in the shape of a catwalk show. It was most excellently executed in an all white look worn by Baptiste Radufe, which wouldn’t have looked out of place on a motorcycle in the 70s. With their impeccable tailoring, Berluti concluded a day, which was – paradoxically – as dedicated to suiting as it was to sportswear.
JUUN.J called his collection Zootsuit and devoted it to cultivating a futuristic silhouette in tailoring, which played with the shape-shifting volumes so fundamental to the brand, and kept things very leathery and black. Rei Kawakubo followed suit, surrendering her COMME des GARÇONS collection to the exploration of the black suit. It was presented by models with greasy, ink black hair brushed over their faces, who walked around like zombies as Kawakubo gradually ornamented her suits more, some with large cut-outs, some with ruffles, and some with metallic stripes. Aldo Maria Camillo is on a roll at Cerruti, and the long and loud applause he received at Friday’s show was more than deserved. His coats in varieties of beautiful check were so heavy and deluxe they almost glistened, and with Camillo’s spot-on interpretation of the season’s artisanal spirit and couture approach to menswear, the collection signified the irrevocable re-arrival of Cerruti on the men’s fashion scene.
If there was a British panache to the Cerruti collection, Camillo wasn’t alone. With his tweed jackets, quilted numbers and general heritage vibes, Junya Watanabe injected the English gentleman’s wardrobe with a fair amount of glam, and gave his fine tailoring a twist of London’s music scene in the 70s while at it. A similar eccentricity was in the air at Maison Martin Margiela where tailoring also took lead, sometimes eerily sane like in the boxy three-piece suit that opened the show and sometimes reassuringly mad like in a very shiny, very cobalt blue coat with a black sleeve. There was a luxury tramp vibe about the collection, which sat perfectly in the midst of the week’s many and very different directions, which have so far somehow managed to merge things as incompatible as rave and heritage tailoring. Don’t say Paris never treats you.