Sankuanz, Rhude, Phipps spark off Paris Fashion Week Men’s
today Jan 16, 2020
Staging the inaugural show in a Fashion Week is never an easy endeavour. Some seasons have been marked by memorable, theatrical openings - thanks to Palomo Spain for example - but the shows that kickstarted the Paris Fashion Week Men’s on Tuesday January 14 weren’t exactly unforgettable.
Spearheading the week's first day, Chinese designer Shangguan Zhe staged the show of his label Sankuanz at the Ellian Art Gallery in rue de Turenne. In a less than inspired choice, Zhe went for low lighting that gave a ghostly expression to all the guests. Using smartphones to shed some light on the matter was no use, since the photographers present called for all phones to be off.
Parading at breakneck pace, the models flaunted a punkish attitude with plenty of tattoos and piercings, clad in black, leather and Dracula-style suits, with day-glo colours cropping up in many looks. A mere hint in some cases, elsewhere a fluorescent piping on a pair of tracksuit bottoms, or colour-block trousers and boots and even check shirts in lumberjack disco style. “Why not,” whispered the audience.
The ensembles made of multiple layers of coats and jackets were a much better proposition, adding a well-realised street/military feel. The punk vibe was then back with a vengeance, with studded belts and black leather jackets tagged like the Berlin Wall. In two of the looks, Sankuanz showcased its latest collaboration with Adidas, black and fluorescent colours again, and some models that will be launched in Shanghai in a few weeks.
Rhuigi Villasenor, with his label Rhude, was one of the eagerly awaited names in Paris this season. For his official calendar debut, the Philippines-born and Los Angeles-based designer brought his guests to the iconic Elysée Montmartre venue. Bandannas and baseball hats with references to LA - Villasenor first caught the attention with a t-shirt and bandanna outfit worn by rapper Kendrick Lamar – abounded among the audience.
On stage, two drummers cued the entrance of a series of men's and women's looks, a blend of structured couture and sportswear in a palette of earthy, pastel and laminated colours, with plenty of references to US style icons, like letterman jackets with a Thriller-esque twist and chaps trousers, blended with more tailored looks featuring overcoats, dusters and boxy puffer jackets. Rhude's debut collection seemed at times a little disjointed and hard to define, but its experimental cuts and mood augur well for the future.
The day's real revelation showed just opposite, at the Lycée Jacques Decour, the venue chosen by US designer Spencer Phipps to present his third Parisian collection.
A booklet entitled ‘Treehugger, tales of forest’, placed on the audience’s benches, set the tone for a collection dedicated to the protectors of Mother Nature and its forests, a highly relevant contemporary theme.
Mustered on the stage, the models chosen by Phipps - in all shapes and sizes, from athletic to slender, from lumberjack to neo-waif - celebrated men in all their diversity, a stance the designer assumed early on in his career. They walked the catwalk judiciously, outfitted as US park rangers, hats firmly on their heads and velvet trousers sporting galactic prints, or as campers with an urban dweller or pilgrim touch, wearing jumpsuits and printed ponchos whose images are the work of photographer Linda Westin.
The collection’s guiding theme was Smokey Bear, the advertising icon first adopted in the 1940s by the U.S. Forest Service to teach kids what to do in case of a forest fire, whose face featured on sweatshirts and pullovers, adding a delicately retro touch to the collection.
Spencer Phipps is sensitive to environmental issues and a promoter of sustainable fashion, and took the opportunity to work with his new preferred materials, like pineapple leather, utilised on down jacket yokes, and to launch his new Gold Label, featuring clothes derived from second-hand or inventory clearance items, bolstering his collection’s circularity message.
As he stepped on the stage to greet the audience, Spencer Phipps received the day's, and the fashion week's, first round of applause.
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