get the party started: day four at paris men's shows
After a heavy autumn/winter 17 menswear season of politics, on Saturday in Paris designers offered a much-needed break from bleakness.
dior homme autumn/winter 17
An 80s moment unfolded on the soundtracks of the autumn/winter 17 men's shows in Paris on Saturday. Chitose Abe had everyone singing along to Voices Inside My Head by The Police at Sacai in the morning, before Kris Van Assche gave us Depeche Mode at Dior Homme (and Boy George on the front row), and Olivier Rousteing opened his rock of ages extravaganza at Balmain with Queen's The Show Must Go On. After a heavy season of runway politics, you could tell where he wanted to go with that choice of fanfare. His collection was typically bedecked, but Rousteing fed the rock 'n' roll elements of his favourite Spotify playlists into Balmain's glitter and glam, temporarily transporting his guests into a world where all that matters is the music. It makes the people come together—even the bourgeoisie and the rebel, as a wise woman once sang. Kris Van Assche is more than familiar with those lyrics, and they could have been the slogan for his exuberant Dior Homme show in which he revisited his early-90s teenage years in the New Wave clubs of Belgium. "We Belgians like a dark vibe," he quipped backstage. "It's very much about what I remember from when I used to go to these clubs—of course I was always the quiet one," he smiled self-effacingly, "but I liked the emotion of it. It was almost religious, these kids being there together in some sort of a climax."
Van Assche covered the last segment of his collection in photos of mosh pits by the artist Dan Witz, and plastered garments with statements like 'there will be noise complaints'. It was a poignant comment on a collective spirit, but he veiled it in a willingness for pleasure and fun: a much-needed rave in the midst of all the melancholy. "What this show stands for is beauty, hope, dreaming, escaping—that's what fashion is supposed to be about. It was when I was eighteen, when I got to the Academy," he said, referring to famous Antwerp fashion school, his alma mater. "It was what I escaped to, and I feel like the world needs dreaming right now—more than ever." And so, Van Assche flexed his tailoring muscle in rave expressions, dreaming up a suit for the young man, who wants the best of both worlds: a meeting between the boardroom and the street. "Everybody says tailoring is over—'nobody wants to wear tailoring anymore'—and I feel like we haven't given young guys the right tailoring yet. So I'm trying to keep the cool vibe while giving them tailored jackets. It's a search for modern tailoring," he explained. "The beginning of the show was very much about New Wave, which is my territory, going into ravers, gabbers, candy boys; all these party kids that used to go all the way."
Was this polite Belgian ever part of a mosh pit? "Of course I wasn't," he smiled, eyes rolling, "but I don't have to be a skater boy to be inspired by skating. It's about being not too literal, getting my inspiration and taking bits and bops and making it into a new look." Last year Van Assche celebrated ten years at the helm of Dior Homme and the milestone seems to have opened a new, more personal and defiant chapter for the designer. It suits him, and the sky is his limit. Saturday's show didn't just provide an electrifying moment of welcomed escapism but a great glimpse into the most colourful corners of Van Assche's pensive mind. "Well, you know," he smirked. "I have a wild side!" So does Hermès, and lately it's been showing. It's a good look for the equestrian leather lady, who put on the most exciting menswear show in a long time on Saturday evening in Paris, courtesy of designer Veronique Nichanian. She cut a sharp trouser, crafted it in leather, suede and velvet, and paired it with roomy fur jumpers and luxe knitted rollnecks in a collection that perfectly captured the more laid-back downtown vibe of a new Hermès. It wasn't a rave (and nor should it be), but on a Paris menswear day that offered the fashion circus a break from American politics and general global bleakness, it got the job done—and some.
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Mitchell Sams