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Raf Simons Menswear S/S13

Insider Access: Paris Menswear S/S13 Day One

Dazed Digital's creative director James West on Milan and commericialism vs creativity

Dazed's team round up each day of Paris menswear Spring/Summer 13 with their thoughts. At the end of day one, we speak to Dazed Digital's creative director James West...

Dazed Digital: Tell us about your Milan, from collections to fashion moments, soundtracks, killer pieces and dietary sustenance...
James West:
Prada knocks you sideways for a while, then your catch your breath and reconsider what contemporary menswear actually means again. The confidence to fork totally each season but at the same time retain some kind of central consistency and integrity is pretty astounding.

Versace, with its buff-bod gladiator tableaux, was truly a fashion moment. There's always an energising communal head rush when fashion remembers it can be exciting. 

Z Zegna's minimalist Snoop soundtrack worked perfectly alongside the really fresh, clean and revitalising suiting and patterns.

Burberry's metallics were an inspiring electric jolt, Moncler Gamme Bleu was tap-tastic, extremely sweaty but worth losing half my bodily fluids for.

As far as fashion week food highlights go, Coca Cola light and chocolate sundaes from McDonalds are essential staples. 

DD: What are you hoping for in Paris? How does it differ to Milan?
James West:
Paris seems to have that younger, more experimental, arguably more personality-led focus. There's space for younger designers that doesn't exist in Milan. So it's good to see what that opportunity enables.

It was interesting in Milan to see how design houses battling against the current economy nestled sure-sellers into their collections perhaps more consciously than usual. But that tension between fashion as a creative and commercial business seems to really focus designers to truly re-invent rather than just wow.

So I'm intrigued to see how Paris responds to the ongoing climate, now that 'hard times' are the norm and need to be considered in longer term business plans. I hope it doesn't lead to a stifled, commercial slant on some of the more boundary-pushing designers. 

DD: Raf Simons showed this evening because he has his debut haute couture collection to finish for Dior. How was the show? Did you enjoy it?
James West:
Raf Simons is pretty much my hero when it comes to an archetype of what menswear could be. The silhouette is uncompromising but never forced, the casting always manages to become more than the sum of its parts, flashes of detail and delicacy juxtaposed with bold shapes and brutal lines are somehow always new. And short shorts, dare I say it, seem to be an emerging trend.