Highlights from the Paris Fashion Week menswear shows
This story was produced as part of CNN Style's partnership with Paris Fashion Week. See more coverage from the events throughout the year here.
Dressed in a Hawaiian-style Valentino shirt, "Schitt's Creek" co-creator Dan Levy kicked off Paris Fashion Week Menswear via video from LA on Tuesday last week. Calling himself a "lifelong fan of fashion," Levy recounted how his own experiences of costuming the characters for his hit show -- including the high-concept looks he donned as David Rose -- had given him even more respect for the role that clothes play in people's lives. "A well-constructed garment can help you stand a little taller, carry yourself with a little more confidence, and express who you are without ever having to say a word," he said.
On the runways, long kilts and other gender-neutral silhouettes mixed with sportswear and classic military cuts, monochromes, florals and black-and-white animal prints. Many of the biggest trends seen throughout six days of shows were excavated from the 1990s -- a decade that's become a fashion perennial -- while a crop of newer labels founded on principles of sustainability and collectivity looked to the future. Only a handful of collections presented live this season, with most designers premiering their latest looks via short films or digital shows online.
Remembering a time when "menswear was relegated to the back of the shop," Levy reflected on how men's fashion has evolved, offering more choice than ever. "We can now wear Thom Browne kilts in lieu of dress pants, lemon-yellow sequinned turtlenecks instead of button-down shirts," he said.
Read on for all the highlights from the shows.
Rapper Travis Scott looked both happy and relieved as he embraced his collaborator Kim Jones, artistic director of Dior Men's, on the runway following the unveiling of the label's newest collection. One of only a handful of live shows at Paris Fashion Week, the collaboration between Jones and Scott offered silky layered ensembles in monochrome whites, lilacs and pinks, as well as bold combinations of brown and dayglo green. Basquiat-style flourishes decorated smock-like shirts, and '70s flares lipped over the hotly anticipated skater boy sneakers in the Cactus Jack Dior collection, named after Scott's record label -- and an homage to his Texas roots. Scott's home state also helped inspire the show's trippy set design, with overgrown cactuses and mushrooms growing out of a faux desert landscape. Backstage and outside the show, a seemingly celebrity-starved press pushed to gain access to Scott, one of a few big names to attend the fashion week amid the ongoing pandemic.
Deeeeeep (house) 90s
Trends from the high tides of '90s culture got the high-fashion treatment yet again this season, including Burberry's sand-swept techno party, with heavily pierced models in deconstructed versions of the brand's classic trench coat, dancing to psych-trance band Shpongle. "So many of my memories forged through music take me back to an incredible time when I was discovering myself -- my voice, my identity, my creativity -- sharing my experiences with friends and sometimes even strangers along the way," said Burberry chief creative officer Riccardo Tisci in a statement. "It was like being on a universal journey, brought together by a collective sense of openness, acceptance and opportunity."
And the '90s played on in Louis Vuitton's poppy palette of bright yellows and greens and so, so much purple. Graphic prints and gradation patterns covered creamy leather bomber jackets; wide-leg jeans with neon acid-house detailing drooped over slip-on shoes; shell suits were paired with earmuffs and high tops; one head-to-toe ensemble channelled purple Teletubby Tinky Winky. The label's 17-minute film saga featured classic tracks from 1995 album "Liquid Swords" by the Wu-Tang clan's GZA. Directed by Louis Vuitton's artistic director of menswear, Virgil Abloh, "Amen Break" depicts a series of noble battles -- from samurai swordplay to chess to bojutsu -- and features GZA himself rapping at a chessboard in a dojo, as well as drum and bass pioneer Goldie in, yes, a purple shell suit.
Models in camouflage bombers and coloful boxy shirts paraded by Antwerp locales to the tune of Britpop anthem "Loaded" by Primal Scream for Dries Van Noten, and Loewe's homage to club culture included eclectic bright-on graphic print and color combos photographed by David Sims, a regular contributor to The Face and i-D, the era's style-defining publications.
Fashion Week wasn't all brightly mixed club colors, there were plenty of monochrome looks and grayscale prints promising a more subdued take on spring. Trendy zig zags and zebra stripes were seen on bibs, hairstyles and as detailing on translucent raincoats for Burberry's mixed-gender show. (There was plenty of womenswear this season, notably Moroccan label Casablanca's '60s pop-inspired daywear, though unlike London Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week is not officially gender neutral.)
Pixelated zags emblazoned short boxy and long tapered vests made of pirarucu fish leather for Rick Owens, while Portuguese suit specialists Ernest W Baker mixed black-and-white stripes with polka dots on playful sweater vests to be worn solo or as part of a layered look. Issey Miyake's soft pleated coats and pants had comfort and animal print appeal -- potential loungewear options for the outside world.
Stripes transformed into spots in an 8-minute film by Jil Sander creative director duo Lucie and Luke Meier. Black-and-white leopard prints covered fuzzy zippered vests and long-billed baseball caps, with front-pleated pants tucked military-style into tall combat boots topped with knee-length and longer trenches. Shot as a dreamy washed-out haze, the film shows models wandering in and out of an inauspicious hotel room, while music by art rockers Suicide mixes with a voiceover recounting some lockdown truths: "Here I was again, back where I started -- how long had it been this time?" A voice asks. "Days, weeks, months, years? Hard to say, time is different on the inside. It gets light, it gets dark, how many times?"
As more luxury brands look towards new and more sustainable materials, Loewe's use of cactus leather was notable as was Danish mainstay Henrik Vibskov's work with recycled plastic bottles. Other labels mapped the future -- and the issues society is up against -- in more conceptual ways.
Speaking to the "turbulence" of a "post-Brexit, Covid-limiting world," young British label Gravalot, co-founded by Onye Anuna and Prince Comrie, presented a collection aptly named "Staying afloat, just," in a multi-storey parking lot in London. According to a statement, the title is a comment on the precarious position many small labels find themselves currently in. Self-defined as an "Afro-Contemporary menswear label rooted in the historical exploration and progression of black cultures," Gravalot works with local artisans and UK heritage fabrics to create carefully tailored, hand-stitched garments -- offered this season in a muted color palette including elegant checks and florals on button-up shirts and casual suit jackets.
Phipp, another young label, presented "It Starts Now," a sci-fi-inspired film featuring men and women in football jerseys, wrestling costumes and tropical boy scout-like ensembles, showcased to the repeated chant of "Equality." While "Upcycle Yourself" was the message from Paris-based "fashion art activism" collective Andrea Crews, known for its one-of-a-kind pieces made from leftover fabrics. Heavily patched jeans and shredded shirts ensured skin-exposing looks on models that came together like a group of young friends . "We wear the fashion revolution on tall, small, big and beautiful bodies," the video text declared. "Fashion is everywhere and so are we."