Jun 29, 2008
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Men's fashion gets a feminine touch at Paris shows

Jun 29, 2008

PARIS, June 29, 2008 (AFP) - The notion of wardrobe androgyny was the fitting theme of Yves Saint-Laurent's men's collection, the house that kicked off the just-ended Paris men's shows where men's fashion won a feminine touch.

Emanuel Ungaro spring-summer 2009 - Photo : François Guillot/AFP

At YSL, designer Stefano Pilati used quotations from Plato to explain why he combined female detailing with a masculine silhouette.

"The original human nature was not like the present ... the sexes were not two as they are now."

Pilati underscored the union of genders with a line for men made in fabrics normally worn by women -- crepe de chine, organza, shantung and silk voile, all fabrics which float rather than fall.

In an era obsessed with global warming and sustainable development, the 44 spring/summer 2009 collections displayed at the four-day men's fashion shows ending Sunday featured light airy see-through linens, silks and soft feathery cottons.

Bright colours, more often the domain of women's wear, also figured strong.

As Gay Pride marches took place across Europe, pink was popular in Paris.

Louis Vuitton, a house with a predominantly masculine view of the world, chose pink for shorts, pants and waistcoat, and even shoes.

A huge pink sail served as the backdrop for an otherwise frankly male take on fashion from Emmanuel Ungaro designer Franck Boclet, who said fuschia was simply one of the house's signature colours.

"I wanted a gay fresh style," Boclet said of what he told AFP was "a Paris 60s look" of hip-hugging tight-thighed pants, chequered suits, and the odd item in day-glo orange, bright blue or purple.

Making his menswear debut for Givenchy, the house women's designer Ricardo Tisci too went for shocking pink, throwing out a suit with socks, shirt and shoes in pink in a gothic-cum-romantic collection mingling masculine and feminine -- lace shirts over tattooed skin, kinky leather shorts worn with cropped leggings.

At the house of Lanvin, designer Lucas Ossendrijver won a standing ovation from hundreds of fashionistas in Paris' ethnological museum for light-looking, almost insubstantial suits that seemed crumpled all over.

At Dior, one of the most breathlessly-awaited shows, Belgian designer Kris Van Asche broke with the brand's iconic black, splashing deep gold, cobalt blue, fuschia and day-glo orange, shown on a gravel runway running between a line of tall trees.

His masculine touch saw the return of the leg-hugging straight pants first designed by his style-setting predecessor Hedi Slimane, as well as harsh laser-slashing in shirts and jackets, and minimalist small collars and tiny lapels.

For his own epynomous collection, Kris Van Asche too went for feminine detailing, with suits made in the light cottons normally used for shirts.

Some of the smaller more outlandish designers went further in blurring gender codes in fashion.

A newcomer to the Paris scene, Japanese designer Tatsuro Horikawa and his Julius brand put his very-manly men in biker boots, aviator hats and adventurer-style pants, while adding almost dress-length tunics and see-through shirts.

His models strutted the catwalk with long shawls rolled around shoulders and veil-like shawls draped over their heads. See-through shirts showed a black band around the chest, almost like a women's bra.

Gaspard Yurkievich, a favourite with the trendy Paris set, said he aimed "to reintegrate feminine elements in the male wardrobe." The result was a bouffant tunic worn over trousers and short jackets with lots of trim that resembled that womens-wear classic, the little Chanel suit.

Most ultra-daring were Romain Kremer with men in long transparent dresses in fluorescent shades, and Bernhard Willhelm with an unwearable medieval-style collection featuring long-haired men in tiaras and multi-coloured bloomers.

John Galliano, in typically provocative vein, offered kilts worn over bright leggings, another staple of the Paris shows.

Paris men's fashion saw fewer adolescent, waif-like androgynous types strutting the catwalks, with big names such as Louis Vuitton, Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier opting for models who looked like grown men of at least 20.

And taking a stand against society's anti-ageism streak, Japan's Yohji Yamamoto and Belgium's Ann Demeulemeester chose to show men could grow old gracefully, throwing well over 60-somethings on the catwalks.by Claire Rosemberg

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