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Paris Fashion Week: genderless lines steal the spotlight

Genderless fashion continued to blur the lines at Paris Fashion Week, with designers such as Juun J. and Rick Owens leading the charge.

Meanwhile, it’s rare that an event can upstage a top Paris Fashion Week show taking place in the French capital’s ornate Grand Palais. But guests arriving at the Cerruti display on day two, witnessed one — and flocked to take in a major aquatic spectacle happening on and below the gilded Alexandre III bridge as Paris tried to woo Olympic officials in its bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.



Here are the highlights of Thursday and Friday’s spring-summer 2018 menswear collections at Paris Fashion Week.


Fashion houses are blurring the lines between male and female styles to the point that it has become a tangible runway trend. As major labels such Saint Laurent and Givenchy make an editorial decision to showcase menswear designs in the autumn’s womenswear season, other houses this week have opted to do the opposite. South Korean designer Juun J. opened his Friday menswear show with a female model in a diaphanous male-female shirt dress. Elsewhere in his show, waif-like male models had intentionally feminine faces, styled with long tousled hair. Berluti mixed up the genders.

And Rick Owens, too, chose androgynous waiflike models with long feminine hair and skirt silhouettes for his menswear show. It is little wonder that stars like Lily Allen have cottoned on. The British singer turned up to Paris Fashion Week dressed in an oversized menswear shirt.


Juun J. took his signature pinstripe and subverted it in a gender-bending show of oversized proportions and myriad ideas. The white pinstripe shirt was blown up into a floor-length gown with surreally long cuffs that obscured the model’s hands. And then, in a nod to the 1930s US gangster styles the designer uses as a creative touchstone, dark pinstripe pants peeped out from under the long shirt silhouettes. Styles had a purposefully unfinished, deconstructed or thrown-together feel — evoking the middle phase of the creative process of designing a fashion collection.

But the best ideas in the 29-piece collection were found in looks that playfully merged the East and the West. One oversized “Western” grey pinstripe suit sported a one shoulder black sweater on top that evoked an Asian wraparound. Elsewhere, a black fanny pack was worn to look like a Japanese Obi belt.


Louis Vuitton’s open air show inside the storied Palais Royal gardens saw designer Kim Jones channel wanderlust for Vuitton’s next spring-summer collection. Starting with Hawaii, Jones reimagined the familiar Aloha shirt with a shiny sheer outer layer that evoked the sparkling ocean. But his collection was more about island-hopping and a sense of spirited adventure than any one geographical location. Sneakers and logo-adorned sandals, indigo denim hats and oversized monogram bags slung across the shoulder accessorised his relaxed looks. Baggy pants — gently pleated and loose at the hip — were on-trend. Sports also was very much in the air, inspired, the fashion house said, by the extreme sports often practised in far-flung locations. Neoprene scuba tops and shorts were reimagined in luxurious multi-coloured bonded leather.

Naomi Campbell caused a stir when she arrived at the Vuitton show last minute, joining American rappers Travis Scott and Tyga. Campbell was passing through Paris after attending the Cannes Lions Festival, where she hung out with The Weeknd. Nearby, British singer Allen, a friend of designer Kim Jones, sported a sheeny Louis Vuitton menswear look and said she was excited to be able to make the show. She said: “Me and Kim used to live together years ago. We were flatmates. He’s the loveliest person in the world. He’s one of my treasured friends.”


The ever-creative Rick Owens doesn’t so much put on fashion shows as transport guests to a parallel universe for 15 minutes each season. The US-born designer was in fine form on Thursday with a surreal collection that almost looked as if it would be at home in outer space. Models stomped in huge moon boots in black and grey across the shimmering metal podium structure outside Paris’ Palais de Tokyo.

White punk vests with cords that evoked alien-like sinews exposed flesh on waif-like male models with visible bones. Torsos sported large sections of voluminous shiny technical fabric that evoked space suit textiles. But the styles might also have been inspired by punks, goths, soldiers and even sculpture. And that’s the point: Owens’ clothes intentionally provoke myriad interpretations.


It was in the former Paris offices of French newspaper Liberation that Belgian designer Dries Van Noten chose to showcase his collection. Male models walked by against a backdrop of shelves with myriad multicoloured files. And a retro-bookish mood filtered into the styles as long socks that were pulled to mid-calf in varying colours. The show marked a return to the ‘80s. It’s a significant decade for Van Noten, as it marked his breakthrough as a designer as part of the radical Antwerp Six group of fashion designers. High-waisted pants and shorts alongside soft oversized ‘80s jackets were worn with oversized shirts. They were rendered thoughtfully in tonal colours such as ochre, sienna, dull green. Suede boots added a touch of class.


Chief Creative Officer Jason Basmajian of Cerruti 1881 brings as much a business approach to his fashion designs as an artistic one. While the 49 looks didn’t break any molds — barring the odd gold tuxedo — they were elegant, masculine and highly wearable. Loose suits with baggy, sometimes Bermuda, shorts and wide-pleated pants defined the pared down aesthetic — rendered crisper by the show’s bright white medical lighting. Slicked back hair, round shades, belt straps hanging from the waist and tassels accessorised these styles alongside large wide-toed leather shoes or sneakers.

About Kshitiz Kataria

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