Hedi Slimane, fetish creator of rock, returns to the catwalks for the first time in more than two years.
PARIS: Menswear turned out to be invigorated as Paris Fashion Week wrapped up on Sunday, with spectacle, innovation and the return of top designers to the catwalks.
The week concluded with the surprising return of legendary French designer Hedi Slimane, formerly of Dior and Saint Laurent and now with Celine. Two years ago, he announced that he was done with the official fashion calendar.
Slimane became hugely influential as a stylist and photographer for musicians such as David Bowie, Mick Jagger, The Libertines and Daft Punk in the early 2000s.
But he hasn’t presented a live show since February 2020, having called them “obsolete”, preferring to present collections with videos shot in luxurious French locations.
He gave no explanation for his reappearance on the catwalk but returns in a sense of a menswear revival. On Sunday, fashionistas invaded the doors of the Palais de Tokyo, in the center of Paris.
Slimane’s new collection harkens back to the indie-rock vibes that made his name: skinny black pants, even thinner ties, gold suits and leather jackets, and lots of dark sunglasses.
In recent seasons, the men’s and women’s shows have often merged into one, with London Fashion Week doing away with the distinction altogether.
But this week in Paris seemed to reaffirm the divide, with houses wanting to refocus on menswear at a time when demand is on the rise.
American designer Matthew Williams presented his first-ever standalone menswear show for Givenchy this week.
“It’s good to give space to men and women, to each their own platform to tell a story,” Williams told fashion site WWD. “There’s more room for more looks.”
His show was based on actual styles from his native California, he said, with lots of utility knee-length shorts, cargo pants and casual knits — most in monochrome with a few pops of pastel colors.
“Commercially, men’s fashion is a market that has developed a lot with a particularly strong dynamic in Asia which has created a boom in men’s ready-to-wear designers”, explains Serge Carreira, fashion expert at Sciences Po.
Also marking her first menswear show was French designer Marine Serre, one of the biggest names to emerge in recent years.
The 30-year-old has put sustainability and inclusivity at the heart of her brand, and that was evident during her sports-themed show at a stadium outside Paris on Saturday.
Many pieces were upcycled from old scarves and linens – which had been turned into everything from bathing suits to flags and leotards.
The models came in all shapes and sizes, from children to the elderly, alongside celebrities such as former footballer Djibril Cissé and Paralympic gold medalist Alexis Hanquinquant, as well as Madonna’s daughter Lourdes Leon in the one of the brand’s moon-patterned bodysuits.
“Thirty percent of our sales have been for men in the latest collections. We’re not 50/50 but we do quite a few men and we have no intention of doing less,” said Serre to AFP after the parade.
“Upcycling is quite rare among men, but the wardrobe lends itself very well to it,” she added.
“These are less complex shapes: it’s easier and we can have better prices which make it more accessible to everyone to wear upcycled pieces.”
Meanwhile, some household names have also popped up this week.
Dior took inspiration from the brand founder’s Normandy childhood home, with a flower garden parade, straw hats and chic outerwear among the outfits.
Hermès was also in a relaxed mood, steeped in pastels, which designer Véronique Nichanian told AFP was inspired by “lightness, comfort, fun and vibrant colors”.