independent minds rule the final day of paris fashion week
As Paul Smith, Lanvin and Saint Laurent rang out the spring/summer 16 men's shows, individuality and independence ruled the runways.
"With a sea of shows, how do you stand out when you have not a fashion week but a fashion month, or a fashion year?" Alber Elbaz pondered after his and Lucas Ossendrijver's Lanvin show on the last day of Paris Fashion Week. "How do you make people remember what you showed, how do you make people want to buy what you presented? I think that was the essence. The more we went into the clothes and looked at and talked about the details, I thought what we're really missing today is design," he said. "It's how much you can design and not over-design. How can you take street fashion but not turn them into fashion victims? How do you define the limit, how much you can push? How much you can stay behind and say, 'This is it. This is the story.' And this is what we're trying to say."
You can't say Lanvin's team limits itself - not in the reference department either - but ambitious as Elbaz and Ossendrijver's point of departure was, it didn't get lost in translation. Every look was a new look, a new idea, a new expression. These were, quite simply, really nice garments. "How do you do this in a time when everything is so much about what's next; in a time where people have the passion but not the patience?" Elbaz asked. "We have to do 44 looks and each one of them was different. We didn't use the formula of styling where you have to do the daywear, the evening, the colour—you don't know what the next one is. That's how we kept the focus for seven minutes, because to keep focus for seven minutes nowadays is hard."
It was frustrating, Elbaz admitted, to be backstage looking at the monitor, watching guests not watching the show. (These days we're all forced to be on our mobiles mid-show to meet social media demands, Shazam the soundtrack and what not. Sad but true.) "We're like, "Watch the show!" Elbaz laughed. "I think the whole idea of fashion is that it has to be relevant for the moment. It's not yesterday, it's not futuristic—it's the moment. And the moment is about repetition, the moment is about the internet world, the moment is about surfing." At Lanvin, this meant what it also meant at the Saint Laurent show, which closed the shows in Paris on Sunday: maximum garment diversity within a strictly defined aesthetic.
Hedi Slimane's got his skinny rock 'n' roll silhouette down, creating an eternal canvas for seasonal decoration. For spring/summer 16 he set his sights on the beaches of California and that romantic idea of what youth is like there, so perfectly portrayed by Baz Luhrmann in Romeo + Juliet. Embellished palm tree jackets, tons of sequins, Latin vibes galore and a whole lot of grunge summed up the message to an original Swimmers soundtrack that went something along the lines of, "I wanna be sixteen and party all night." Fair enough. Sir Paul Smith would probably appreciate that sentiment, at least as far as his work is concerned. This season things got a lot younger on his hallowed catwalk, which moved from the epic Bourse to a more intimate space at Palais de Tokyo.
"It's called Independent Mind, and without being too philosophical about it, basically it's just about this homogenized world, about coming from a simple beginning and seeing whether you can do well," Sir Paul said, hinting at his own history. "It's about 32 different boys - none of them changed outfits - who came from many different countries around the world. For a lot of them it was their first show. The idea was that you see different skin colors, hair, shapes—just as a way of saying, that's how I started and now we sell in 73 countries." The collection was a departure from recent seasons' poetry, that romantic and darkly opulent take on the Paul Smith aesthetic, which have marked a more directional approach for the designer icon.
Here, last season's almost Baudelairean drama of sweeping coats and majestic materials was replaced with a glam rock 'n' roll vibe - brightly colored tailoring (he referenced David Hockney), graphic stripe motifs, and a lot of metallics - perhaps more associated with classic Paul Smith. "The styling is very not styled, it's very much about wearing things your own way. Lots of big new volume, lots of new shapes: either very, very big, or very, very skinny, or very high," Sir Paul explained. "And things I've done in the past when I've worked with Bowie, when I've worked with The Talking Heads, when I've worked with Led Zeppelin. Patti Smith, Daniel Day Lewis… you probably saw Gary Oldman in the audience: they're all people I've worked with and that's what it's about, really: nice people, who've done well."
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Backstage photography Jason Lloyd Evans
Catwalk photography Mitchell Sams