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Paris Fashion Week Men’s Showcases Claremont Core Fashion

(Vanessa Ho • The Student Life)

Commencing another semester, it seems fitting to kick off my column by delving into the pinnacle of the fashion world: Paris Fashion Week (PFW). Each January, over 60 designers showcase their collections at various venues across the city, attracting celebrities, clients, and buyers/stylists from all corners of the globe.

For approximately six years, I have closely followed the evolution of PFW menswear, witnessing the gradual shift towards greater accessibility and mainstream appeal. Previously confined to platforms like Vogue’s websites, runway images are now ubiquitous across social media feeds of news outlets, akin to pervasive advertisements. As prices escalate from extravagant to downright absurd, there is a paradoxical surge in public fascination with the consumerism culture that underpins PFW.

Speaking of consumerism and unattainable luxuries, let’s delve into Louis Vuitton. In his second season succeeding the late Virgil Abloh as creative director, Pharrell Williams embarked on defining his creative vision for the brand by opting for a theme entirely disconnected from its heritage and past collections. This new collection intertwines western wear, workwear, and suits with bold bags and graphics reminiscent of Pharrell’s prior showcase.

While the attempt to subvert the conventional cowboy image by incorporating Native American elements such as materials, colors, and music is commendable, Louis Vuitton might not be the ideal storyteller for this narrative. Originating as a French leather goods house in the 1800s, the brand’s current identity seems more tailored to Instagram profiles that chronicle NBA players’ fashion choices rather than genuine fashion enthusiasts. This collection primarily caters to the existing clientele, who make purchases without much contemplation, evident in collaborations with streetwear labels like Timberland in a seemingly futile endeavor to emulate Abloh’s distinctiveness.

Despite some appealing ensembles in the collection, the juxtaposition of themes and persistent use of monogram bags and juvenile digital camouflage prints serve as the collection’s downfall, underscoring Pharrell’s prolonged journey towards establishing a definitive brand identity.

On a brighter note, Olivier Rousteing’s Balmain collection pleasantly surprised many. Following a decline in popularity a decade ago, Balmain seemed somewhat gaudy, reminiscent of items that clutter discount department stores. However, this latest collection reinstates their position as a premier fashion house.

Highlighted by a long coat embellished with Swarovski crystals forming a woman’s visage, the collection offers a diverse range akin to Louis Vuitton but with a more refined touch. Drawing influences from Anthony Vaccarello’s Saint Laurent and Abloh’s Louis Vuitton, the collection features elegant monochromatic ensembles juxtaposed with vibrant pieces crafted in collaboration with Ghanaian artist Prince Gyasi. All these elements coalesce under the theme of sapeurs, representing francophone Africans who blend traditional French tailoring with bold African color palettes.

Upon reviewing these two showcases, it becomes evident that no other presentation deviated significantly from the brand’s established identity (or lack thereof) to warrant an in-depth analysis. In essence, most major brands’ displays can be succinctly summarized in a sentence or two.

Givenchy grappled with defining a clear direction post the departure of Matthew Williams, resulting in a collection that lacked coherence and substance to leave a lasting impression.

Prada continued to explore suiting with subtle variations, yet their runways starkly contrasted with a logo-heavy ready-to-wear line favored by affluent consumers.

Dior styled their models in an intriguingly androgynous manner, featuring deep-cut shirts, sheer tops, and a slicked-back hair adorned with headbands, evoking a sense of imminent change. However, the clothing failed to offer anything beyond the impression that Kim Jones amalgamated his previous collections with Kiko Kostadinov’s aesthetics.

Loewe showcased innovative cuts and materials, yet Jonathan Anderson tiptoed towards surrealism, pushing the boundaries of practicality both in complete looks and individual pieces. Similarly, Rick Owens’ exaggerated silhouettes, while a trademark of his recent collections, veered into impracticality with inflatable boots dominating most looks this season.

While my critique may seem stringent, a few collections did capture my attention.

Hed Mayner’s presentation stood out for its humorously oversized silhouettes, playfully mocking the prevailing trend of voluminous and wide-legged styles. Lemaire’s emphasis on silhouette and layering spoke volumes, underscoring the brand’s ascent in popular culture with a diverse collection spanning the color spectrum. Doublet’s abstract showcase, reminiscent of a horror movie, featured surprisingly wearable ensembles and a diverse array of materials.

Concluding my analysis, I’d like to address a multitalented individual who has graced both the PFW runways and the music scene. No, I’m not referring to Pharrell this time. Kid Cudi, I implore you to refrain from launching another commercial clothing line. Save yourself the resources, time, and effort. I earnestly beseech you.

I shall spare the readers the intricate details, but the runways of all these shows are accessible on [website 1] and [website 2] for viewing pleasure. While these pieces may not be the most practical or affordable, critiquing a \(10,000 coat while clad in a \)5 t-shirt can indeed spark joy.

Gus Gingrich PO ’24 hails from Walnut Creek, California. During his leisure moments, he finds solace in battling bids on Japanese auction websites and conceptualizing redesigns for his dorm room closet.