Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Dior perfect menswear

THOMAS ADAMSON
The Associated Press
Modified: January 22, 2013 at 5:04 pm •  Published: January 22, 2013
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photo - A model presents a creation by British fashion designer Kim Jones for Louis Vuitton's fall-winter 2013/2014 men's fashion collection, presented in Paris, Thursday, Jan.17, 2013. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
A model presents a creation by British fashion designer Kim Jones for Louis Vuitton's fall-winter 2013/2014 men's fashion collection, presented in Paris, Thursday, Jan.17, 2013. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

A sanitized all-white set saw elegantly suited, droid-like gentlemen file by in Saturday's show with galactic high collars, and super high buckled waists. Though at times there was a slight feel of vintage Pierre Cardin — the collection's starting point was apparently the sci-fi movie "Gattaca."

One result of this futurist exploration was the businessman as superhero.

A red pin stripe recurs as a futuristic cult-like symbol, a triangle within a square; shoe heels are encased in a smooth, clear plastic so they don't leave a trace; and traceless, too, are the smoothly covered zipper fastenings..

In Raf Simon's recent women's wear designs for Christian Dior, waists were cinched in a reworking of the 1950s bar jacket with peplum.

Here Van Assche is adding his menswear voice to the fashion conversation, by echoing this style through delineating the waist. He raised it, military style, through a belt almost halfway down the torso.

DRIES VAN NOTEN

When it comes to menswear, Dries Van Noten rarely plays by the rules.

But even by his own standards, he set himself a tough challenge for fall-winter 2013, aiming to produce clothes for men "that may not ever been in their wardrobe."

Considering that one main theme of the show was the use of nighttime pajamas for day jackets and outerwear, in this challenge the Belgian designer most definitely succeeded. That is, of course, provided there are no sleepwalkers out there with black, orange and paisley pajamas in their closet.

The result of this unorthodoxy? Astoundingly, one of the most elegant shows Van Noten has done in recent memory.

It's owed mainly to how the pajama style was worked: luxuriously, in soft and heavy brushed jacquards, cashmere and double quilted silks and velvets.

As ever, Van Noten used contradictions as the dynamic of his wardrobe.

Feminine fabrics, as well as tight pants, contrasted with boyish, slouchy forms of the loose jackets and sweaters — creating plays on volume.

This was no rules dressing at its best.

HERMES

Hermes has become a byword for simple, unpretentious luxury. With panache, veteran menswear designer Veronique Nichanian proved this again in a classy and masculine showing. A more muted palette than last season was broken up with bright flashes of golden yellow.

There was no far-flung concept, gimmick or muse, unlike most Paris shows, simply because none was needed. Nichanian — who's been at the helm of this family-run business an incredible 22 years now — is an expert at letting the clothes do the talking.

There was indeed a lot to be said.

The 44 looks ranged from on-trend loose but structured naval trenches, to short peacoats, tight black calfskin pants, via turtlenecks, jacquard silk pullovers and fitted double breasted tuxedo in black wool and mohair which were fit for a prince.

Was there a secret for furmula Hermes, one of fashion's biggest success stories of the last decade?

"No, no. There's no secret. But it's not about ostentation, pretention, or trying to show you've got money," said former Hermes CEO Patrick Thomas.

"It's just the simplicity, and excellence of the fabrics."

SAINT LAURENT

There was an air of the self-searching Seventies student in Hedi Slimane's debut menswear show at the rebranded Saint Laurent.

Long, striped thick-knit scarves, oversized jackets and ripped skinny jeans were worn by shaggily coiffed models who stomped grumpily down the catwalk. Just like a confused teenager trying to find his identity, Slimane mixed up violently clashing styles.

But at least one thing was clear: The wardrobe confusion was intentional.

This was seen most clearly in a look that combined leather motorbike pants in black and white with zippers, yellow tan Cuban heels, a casual oversized check shirt and a truncated red carpet tuxedo. Through pure eccentricity some ensembles ended up working.

Alas, like in Slimane's womenswear debut, the confusion translated into the silhouettes. Great individual pieces were almost drowned out here because of droopy coats, big flaccid capes and floppy scarves.

Slimane is trying hard to add a unique voice to the fashion conversation. He has succeeded. But is he trying too hard?