For AW17 menswear, Paris was like ‘hold my wine’ and got ready to show all the way out. Louis Vuitton finally gave the internet what it was clamouring for and Balenciaga had every Bernie Bro feeling some type of way. #PFW brimmed with moments of global attention that menswear season is too often bereft of. As the city is currently run amuck anew for Couture, let’s get into a couple of highlights from the men's schedule.
If you haven’t read the full KNOTORYUS review on Walter Van Beirendonck AW17 yet, wyd? I could echo on and on about how I truly deserve each piece in this collection and I’d gladly square off with Krampus to get me one of those dad caps, but everything I feel was already expertly voiced in the earlier review. Icons gonna icon.
Countless pixels have been spilled dissecting the standout Balenciaga AW17 show dominated by louche 80s banker types, only the second-ever men’s show for the brand lest we forget. I watched the ShowStudio live panel on the show and opinions were quite divided on topics ranging from garment construction and fit to socio-political messaging and market segmentation. What the panellists could all agree on was that they were most likely over-analysing the whole thing and that Team Demna was probably shrugging at their analytical efforts with a mumbled ‘It’s not that deep’. Whether you enjoyed the aesthetics of the show or not, I let out an audible gasp when I saw that Kering branding and the already infamous Bernie duvet wrap, so as long as a show like Balenciaga can actually make me * feel * things, I’ll be there front and centre in my dad’s Fedex sweater (I can always act like it’s an unreleased Vetements collab). And so will Rei Kawakubo, apparently!
It’s riveting to watch the countless levels to Off-White that Virgil Abloh has constructed in his mind unfurl season after season on the runway. The AW17 show, 'Seeing Things', was poetic. From the golden leaves seemingly-haphazardly sticking to tops and trousers, created by London jeweller Duffy, to the intarsia artwork on the mohair jumpers, it felt like an ode to the permanence of youth. The invitations featured guests’ names in quotation marks, showing off a surrealist side to Off-White that I’d line up to see more of.
Agog. Frenzied. Gagging. The web went silly over LV x Supreme, but let's say that we weren't exactly in usual KNOTORYUS formation over this collaboration. Kim Jones working with Supreme was the most natural course of events, yet actually seeing those bright red holdalls, fanny packs and denims float down a Paris runway was an Inception ‘spinning top’ kind of moment to me. The hype surrounding the accessories sort of relinquished the rest of the collection to 50-Feet-From-Stardom territory, which is why I’d like to draw your eye to the gentle New York-inspired tailoring, executed with that Kim Jones ease and confidence which makes every item the most covetable.
For this collection named ‘Boyhood’, the Comme models threw a gloomily scintillating birthday party complete with plastic toys and neon wigs on cropped tailoring. For AW17, Comme des Garçons worked with artists Scott Hove of Cake Fangs and Candida Alvarez to bring the vision together. The faux-icing applications created by Hove dominated my feed, proving once more that Kawakubo will reinvent and fascinate the industry until she no longer feels the need to.
Mats Rombaut is all about a captivating presentation, from SS17’s gay sauna situation to this season’s charity boxing match benefiting families in war-torn Syria (as we delved into earlier). The shoes were presented on the feet of MMA fighters Tom ‘Fire Kid’ Duquesnoy and Staiv Gentis as they sparred, not-so-gently reminding sceptics that just because a shoe is entirely made of vegan materials, it doesn’t mean it’s not about that rough and tumble life.
Haider Ackermann The enticing Paul Boudens-designed Haider Ackermann show invite hinted at a dark romance ahead and it did not let down. Despite being freshly christened as Berluti’s newest creative director, Haider Ackermann made sure the AckerStans (coined it) still got everything they wanted from his own show. The most standout testaments to Haider’s prowess were the fascinating scorch-and-reveal effects applied to the garments that the team most definitely burned some midnight oil over creating.
This was the 99th Dries Van Noten show, a momentous feat, but I was mainly intrigued by how noticeably sharp and less decorative from collections past this was (there still was the odd embroidery moment, no worries). The lush military regalia and paisley sheen from last winter made way for a Dries man who is not here to play (or peacock around). By blowing up the labels from his various suppliers (some of them traditional manufacturers trying to remain afloat) and placing them front and centre on several pieces, Van Noten wants us to know exactly who deserves our support and attention.
Being one of the young Parisian buzz brands, Y/Project is left in the unenviable position of having eyes laser-focused on their every shuffle. AW17 left few wanting, however. Belgian designer Glenn Martens' avant-garde approach to contemporary staples means a track trouser or MA-1 can be contorted any which way and still look good and a football scarf can literally have Henry VIII on it and still be covetable. There’s a sense of humour there that’s hard to look away from.
If the new Dior womenswear is a tad too wispy and romantic for your palate, you know Kris Van Assche has your back. Hardior! Paying tribute to hard-core, underground and New Wave culture, Kris feted Christian Dior’s 112th birthday with another dedicated search for the next level in men’s tailoring. Kris’s dark explorations gave us photographer Dan Witz’s mosh pit scenes transposed on capes (I’ve only ever been in one pit, courtesy of Travis $cott, and I’m not about that life so I will gladly take a cape over the real thing thanks ever so much), exposed seams, dyed shag furs, variations on his signature red and black theme, and the unforgettable “They Should Just Let Us Rave” turtleneck featuring Mr Dior himself (worn expertly by A$AP). I feel like the man who had the post-war world shook with one jacket would not mind still being the face of a little irreverence today.