On the final weekend of Paris Men’s Fashion Week, three very different brands showed retail savvy collections laced with inspiration.
Ludovic de Saint Sernin
Breathtaking, spellbinding and ultra refined, Ludovic de Saint Sernin is well on his way to building a genderless megabrand that speaks to a new generation of luxury consumer.
The show opened with a series of swishy mermaid skirts with more structured leather corsets, segued through separates where open front shirting or bralets were teamed with pants, flippy skirts or elegant silk boxers while asymmetric toga drape takes on de Saint Sernin’s signature naked dresses plus plunge front gowns with skirts done in Swarovski crystal mesh like elevated fisherman’s nets brought up the rear.
The collection was an exercise in refining his codes and further defining and expanding his Ludovic de Saint Sernin brand’s visual lexicon.
Speaking backstage following his show in the courtyard of Musée des Archives Nationales which closed Paris Men’s Fashion Week, the designer said that he viewed the collection as a reset. “I started on this day six years ago, off calendar and this I feel is the quintessential LdSS universe. It represents ideas of beauty and sensuality and love and freedom and to dare to be yourself.”
Silhouettes were fluid yet exquisitely constructed. He said that when he was researching the cuts, he was thinking about “creating a silhouette that is engaging for somebody else when they see you.”
Starting point, was a story of a “beautiful summer romance” and he spoke of how Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids which documents Smith’s relationship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe, changed his life. “It taught me to dare to be yourself and not be afraid to be who you are in this life, to embrace it.”
“I look at my collections as a book; they are very autobiographical,” he added. The book in question featured in the show, protruding from a logoed crystal mesh messenger bag — which, along with lace up crossbodies, constituted new accessories which build on the success of the cleavage tote bag he debuted at his January show.
Jewelry, done in collaboration with artist friend Diego Villarreal Vagujhelyi, included courtship cuffs and knuckle duster rings cast in raw white brass in the imprints of a gesture — “the way you hold your hands if you’re meeting someone and you’re a bit shy,” he said, demonstrating clasping his hands in front of him or holding onto one wrist. “It’s a memory of all those positions.”
De Saint Sernin, who parted company with Ann Demeulemeester after barely a season at the helm, also proved beyond the vestige of a doubt that he doesn’t need the platform of a big name house to legitimize his own name or boost his profile.
More known for splicing together fabrics, for men’s spring ‘24 (and women’s pre spring) Sacai’s Chitose Abe turned her attention to movements, fusing Punk with that of the more positivity inflected surf culture.
The “Know Future” slogan emblazoned across a T-shirt was a rework of punk-esque nihilism that permeated the collection. As the Sacai designer said backstage after the show on Sunday afternoon, “It’s not ’no future’, it’s saying there’s there’s something (good ahead) in the future and that we should look positively towards it.”
Patterns came in the form of overblown vegetal motifs — executed as prints or bonded onto contrast fabrics — while her habitually sober color palette was punctuated with positivity inducing primary shades.
A vibrant Klein meets Style Not Com blue, matched the pantone style cover of the latest edition of A Magazine which Abe curated but she said it was a coincidence as the collection was conceived long before the collaboration. It just happens that she has an affinity with the shade.
Another major inspiration behind the collection was uniform. “I was looking back at the days when I wore a uniform to school and tricked it up to make it more individual,” Abe said.
The uniform idea also extended to workwear as she wanted to show “how uniforms can be interpreted in different ways.” Moleskin born out of French workwear from the ‘40s featured aforementioned floral appliqué while her brand’s ongoing relationship with the American workwear inspired Carhartt label also expanded on that idea of bonding together different fabrics.
From behind, many of the Carhartt pieces look more like conventional suiting, she explained of the brand’s signature ‘duck’ fabric which came melded with more refined tailoring.
The surfer idea played out via those Hawaiian-meets-workwear shirts, chunky intarsia knitwear, made to resemble toweling fabric, and necklaces which combined more beachy beading with pearls — a trope also used by Pharrell Willams in his debut show for Louis Vuitton.
As often happens in fashion, there’s been a collective spirit in the air this season. Kim Jones also borrowed from the Punk movement. But just like Abe, he gave it a twist, fusing mohawk style beanie hats with more feminine inflected fascinators.
A couple of weeks ago Meta unveiled its #itsyourworld campaign to showcase how Reels ads can help businesses promote themselves.
Colm Dillane’s KidSuper was one of the featured brands and used the spot to preview the fisherman’s net suit (yes, the collective mindset was at play here too) that appeared in his Paris Men’s Fashion Week show on Saturday evening which Meta sponsored.
Dillane has also created an augmented reality smartphone ‘doodlescape’ filter where his KidSuper illustrations can be superimposed over IRL backdrops. It was accessed via a QR code which appeared in the program given to guests.
Taking place at Paris’ Théâtre de L’Odéon, the show, entitled How To Find An Idea took the form of a play written by and starring Dillane himself, which was broken up into a series of mise en scènes.
While this was likely a nod to Meta’s Reels concept, the idea also riffed off the collage print effects integral to Dillane’s oeuvre and played out across streetwear and tailoring alike.
In a witty observation on the notion of ‘original ideas’ — revert to the title of the show for further details — the collection also ‘collaged’ some tropes of other Paris Fashion Week designers with suits borrowing from the ghosting effect used by Jonathan Anderson in his Loewe womenswear collection of last season.
Coming just the day after Anderson sent out ‘paw’ inspired footwear during his Loewe show — which may or may not have been a nod to Maison Margiela’s famous cloven toe Tabis — Dillane is bang on the money.
Elsewhere, a plaster cast skirt featuring a disembodied nose and lips was a nod to Schiaparelli style surrealism while a briefcase wearing a suit and tie had to be a reference to the work of designer Thom Browne.
“I never got good advice from someone who didn’t take risks,” said Dillane following the show. He’s never afraid to set himself up either and during one skit in which he was apparently invisible to his fellow actors, he shouted: “Do you not see me?” The reply was a deadpan: ”Well if you would have gotten that full time job at Louis Vuitton…”
Last season Dillane was a guest designer for the LVMH brand’s Fall ‘23 Men’s show prior to the appointment of Pharrell Williams to the role of creative director. The spot led many to wonder if the role were to go to the KidSuper designer.
It’s typical Dillane to address the elephant in the room. His show notes summed it up. “I think life is about obstacles and I am hitting them… Obstacles are enjoyable.” The show was certainly that.