PARIS: Saturday’s installment of Paris Menswear Week was all about unexpected turns.
Karl Lagerfeld distracted guests by getting on like a house on fire — very visibly — with Chanel’s powerful arch-rival Bernard Arnault on the Dior Homme front row chatting throughout the show.
Kenzo’s outdoors summer show panicked organizers when it fell victim to a flash rain storm.
And guests at Sacai were delighted to be offered first-class refreshments only to discover they were so battery-packed inside many couldn’t see the clothes.
Here are the highlights and show reports of the penultimate day of spring-summer 2015 menswear shows.
DIOR FRONT ROW DISTRACTIONS
That Chanel’s hair-powdered showman Karl Lagerfeld rocked up late to the Dior Homme show — as is tradition — it raised no eyebrows, triggering a run-of-the-mill media scrum.
What was unexpected, however, was the octogenarian chatting and laughing so visibly all the way through the show with Bernard Arnault, the head of LVMH, who own Dior and are considered the rivals of Chanel’s Wertheimer family. Lagerfeld’s eccentric gesticulations with his gloved hands distracted guests. (Lagerfeld is also the designer for LVMH’s Fendi.)
Also on the front row, were actor Ansel Elgort who wore a Dior Homme beige cotton-silk rain coat with raw-edged black leather, and rapper Kid Cudi who wore a Dior Homme navy polo shirt with contrasting gray collar. They behaved with more decorum.
DIOR HOMME GOES SOUTH
Kris Van Assche mixed the staple tailored business suits of the Dior man with a spattering of the easel of southern French bohemian artists.
Navy suiting — with tuxedos and pinstripes — contrasted with Gallic-looking slim striped sweaters and T-shirts in red, blue and yellow.
It was as if to say: this stylish businessmen has had enough with working 9-5 and is now chilling out on the French Riviera.
Van Assche based his collection on the life Christian Dior who would himself travel away from Paris mid-century and gather in artistic and literary circles.
In a nod to this, and in a small play of abstraction, the vertical pinstripes became horizontal and then morphed into poetical text that graced a great blue truncated bomber jacket.
The rather faint text fared less well upon suits and jeans, and didn’t make much of a statement here.
Still, there were some great looks — an icy-cool pale blue denim suit summed up the work-play them to a tee.
KENZO LOVES FRENCH MEN
On a catwalk by the Seine with the Eiffel Tower in the background, Kenzo chose this season to celebrate all things French.
In a Los Angeles kind of way.
Orange county natives Carole Lim and Humberto Leon who to-and-fro between France and the U.S. on a regular basis thus took the classic Breton stripe — and created a funky cultural fusion.
They slashed it, broke it up and even blew it up on oversize coats, singlets and enviable tight segmented sweaters. This, all to pulsating house music that had guests tapping their feet.
The palette the designers amusingly describe as “akin to the contents of a box of macarons” — pastels in pink, mint, tabacco and sky blue, all perfectly balanced by the master colorists.
And, to make sure every foreign French cliche in the book was covered, they knitted an image of Cosette from “Les Miserables” on a sweater, created stylish modernist-style bags based on architect Le Corbusier, and plastered the Eiffel Tower on prints alongside oversized blue polka dots on a loose silk shirt or a wild double-breasted jacket.
Some exaggerated parkas that featured in the show could have come in useful for dripping guests, who were victims of an unexpected summer rainstorm.
HERMES’ FASHION POETRY
Hermes’ program notes always read like a poem and it says much for the brand.
Stylish and poetical, menswear Veronique Nichanian produced a typically luxuriant offering.
The colors? “White, limestone, sand, hemp, black. Eucalyptus, cumin, slate. Pumpkin.”
The fabrics? “Calfskin with waxed edges, two-tone metis lambskin...light crocodile... Cashmere and cotton with playful diamond shapes.”
But these features are recurrent in Hermes’s menswear vocabulary.
What set this 43-piece-strong collection apart were its delicate speckled sweaters, its pointed vertical belt strap ends and its beautiful prints on sweater, pants and cagoules that resembled fractures in a rock.
One of Japan’s most popular luxury brands, Sacai explored the concept of overlay in their spring-summer presentation.
Different to layering, Sacai overlayed intentionally different colors and textures in layers and patchwork with myriad different garments sometimes in the same look.
A baggy blue-gray utilitarian cotton pullover with pockets cut from another garment came on top of a long striped navy tunic.
Elsewhere, a Latin American-looking Madras orange hoody on a baggy checked shirt and utilitarian sandals.
It was fun, but some of the styles looked plain wacky.
The other drawback was the presentation style. Fashion insiders were huddled like penguins in standing groups, and many couldn’t see the clothes.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP