Summer temperatures reached just 25 degrees on Wednesday in the French capital, marking the start of Paris Fashion Week. But, inside the crammed runway venues – sans air conditioning – it felt more like 45, giving new meaning to a ‘hot’ fashion show.
Distracting from the heat, Valentino took viewers on a traveller’s trip evoking the geographic memoirs of a well-adventured man. Lemaire soothed all sweats with an easy-on-the-eye collection, before Australia’s Strateas Carlucci made their Paris debut, striking a knitted chord with the Europeans. Sailing out the summer day, Haider Ackermann crafted a mesh of subcultural styles – pirates, rockstars and gypsies too, working loads of linen and leather bits against pinstriped tailoring and kick-you-in-the-face boots.
Walking to the douceur of an orchestral ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ cover, Valentino models presented the Italian houses spring/summer collection. Designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli drew inspiration from Bruce Chatwin’s classic travel account ‘The Songlines’ for a fashion tribute to the urban wanderer.
The 73-look show boasted a variety of earth-toned jackets, coats and shirts – significantly representing men’s fashion from decades past, but reworked with cultural motifs. There were silk souvenir jackets (inspired by those brought back by WWII fighters from Asia) embroidered with dragons and tigers; topcoats carrying Native American beading on the sleeves; and a peacoat stamped with a prancing unicorn.
The masculine structure of the pieces let the playfulness of craftsmanship take full form: a patchwork denim coat reflective of Sixties rebellion, a selvedge denim coat and distressed denim jeans. With so many wearable pieces that play on a yearning for misspent youth, Valentino is headed in the right direction.
France’s Lemaire felt squeaky clean compared to Valentino, with a trim-up-top-billowy-below collection in neutral tones – almost void of prints. Christopher Lemaire has always designed his clothes for timelessness, with a touch of melancholy. But this time he was more light-hearted with summery cottons, and light suit fabrics.
Offering a palette of navy, cream, black, brown and green, the earthen hues matched the utilitarian play on four-pocket jackets and elasticated waistbands; next to the Maoist Chinese dancer coats stripped of traditional embellishments.Fifties Teddy Boy button-ups were cut short sleeved, tucked into high-sitting, wide-leg trousers with pleats; the Northern Soul trousers in super long length worn with white-soled sneaker.
Tailoring was neat, short notch lapel jackets – one in raw denim – and another in navy, offset by a black dinner jacket, slightly oversized. But the pièce de résistance was the burned orange blazer, a touch relaxed in the sleeve and waist, which came out as the last look. Oh, and bum-bags are back.
Gargantuan proportions and boxy silhouettes were undercut by a minimalist aesthetic at the Paris debut for Australian label, Strateas Carlucci. Peter Strateas and Mario-Luca Carlucci opened with an oversized white shirt with three-quarter bell sleeves and chunky hems, followed by a Seventies blue top coat, and granddad-collar coat in metal grey, both sitting super big – appearing like a boy playing dress-ups in dad’s work clothes.
A white workshop coat was more streamline over grey bermuda shorts and a black printed tee, before the Woolmark Prize finalists showed-off their fabric savoir-faire; parading a knitted tee in grey with a depth that resembled the metallic chinks in a medieval breastplate.
Strateas Carlucci’s charcoal, knit trousers and killer suede boots added texture to a check-impressed hoodie, followed by more statement outerwear – this time more refined, with a black jacquard-look trench and a grey marl Chesterfield coat entering the runway, the latter paired with liquid silver pants.
Feeling super boho rock, Haider Ackerman crafted a series of Eighties pirate-chic looks for summer. Linen tunics came elegantly tucked into cropped, blue pants, followed by a relaxed-fit coat that had scribbled yellow writing: “Speak the truth even if your voice is shaking.” Severely belted at the waist and with sleeves pushed insouciantly up to the elbows, Ackerman’s man had a riotous purpose.
Duster coats and double-breasted jackets continued the linen lightness, followed by sleeveless tanks tops, and more cropped pants in electric blue. A faded black denim jacket cut-off at the sleeve added the rockstar effect, as did the leather metallic pants with leopard print slippers.
Tailoring came in navy with pinstriped blazers over slouched, crumpled black denim, or in skinny striped suit pants under a black rob coat. Black waistcoats were also super summery, standalone over linen shirting and black suit pants. But a gold-ish brown suit in velvet, brought the collection back onto the rock track.
Click through the slideshow for show highlights, Day 1 of Paris Fashion Week.