From Commes des Garçons and Marine Serre to Rick Owens and Dior, consider this your lowdown on the latest menswear shows
The final pitstop of the SS24 menswear season is upon us and Paris – being the biggest and most barnstorming of the fashion month schedule – has a slew of blockbuster names on its agenda. The whole thing kicked off last night with Pharrell’s turbocharged debut at Louis Vuitton and it will pass through Rick Owens, Dior, Comme des Garçons, and Loewe before climaxing with an off-schedule Jacquemus show.
On an anecdotal level, the capital is near-suffocated in scaffolding in preparation for next year’s Olympics and the traffic is just as heinous as ever, making Paris feel like a tinderbox on the brink of ignition. But perhaps that also has something to do with all the emergent brands threatening to usurp the stalwarts, among them Hed Mayner, Bianca Saunders, Marine Serre, Botter, and Kiko Kostadinov. Scroll below to get the 411 on all the designers showing at the SS24 edition of Paris Fashion Week.
Hed Mayner has always been fascinated with behemoth and impractical silhouettes, but this season’s collection took on a more utilitarian accent. On the second day of Paris Fashion Week, models walked through an industrial design centre wearing overblown tactical jackets festooned in 3D pockets, foil-wrapped cargo pants, and outsized military jackets. The idea was to retaliate against the churn of the trend cycle, positioning “boring luxury” above the breathless desire for newness. The idea of permanence was rendered in papier mâché-effect shirts and trousers that looked as though they had been frozen in time – so solid were those pieces that you could almost crack them over the knee like a bit of old plaster. Much like the fisherman hats and Ebeneezer Scrooge pyjama bottoms, the collection evoked an eerie, antique feeling that rankled against the high-glam, megawatt spectacles that Paris usually offers up.
For SS24, Bianca Saunders staged a modest installation in the Palais de Tokyo, where models crisscrossed around a set with large-scale cut-outs of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s collages. The Jamaican artist’s back catalogue formed the basis of Saunder’s spring collection – riding on all the incantations of Afrofuturism he put forward in the 1970s – made manifest in paper-effect shirts, t-shirts gathered with gaffer tape, and vinyl cummerbands. Created in collaboration with Farah, the collection twisted the traditional proportions of tailoring and denim with subtle fabric manipulations: a ruched midriff on a plaid shirt, an inturned inseam on jeans, and a wonky placket on French work jackets. “The boxy denim shorts are my favourite,” the designer said, having rifled through Farah’s archive in the development stages. Backdropped by images of healing crystals, blood-orange moons, and the Madonna, Saunders said it’s all about “spiritual zones, I’m manifesting good company, good health, and more for the brand.”
Last season, Wales Bonner drew inspiration from the Black flaneur (an idle, high-society gent who ambles around Paris scratching his chin and making small talk) but she gave the protagonist of her SS24 collection a little more momentum, drawing on long-distance runners like Haile Gebreselassie, Genzebe Dibaba, and Eliud Kipchoge. It was, as per the show notes, “an ode to long journeys and life missions. A celebration of soulful pursuits and inspired movement.” And so Ehtipoian athletes Tamirat Tola and Yomif Kejelcha Atomsa strode onto the catwalk in Regency-style overcoats, Mao-collared windbreakers, and cowhide cheetah-print vests. A negotiation between tailoring and sportswear, the collection alternated between Wales Bonner’s mainline and her ongoing collaboration with adidas, which produced denim suits with printed side stripes, cummerbund-waisted track jackets, and Tattersall running ponchos. As one “Resilience” sweater made clear, SS24 took its strength from “the silent messenger, the unwavering spirit striding, soaring.”
Yohji Yamamoto took one look at the fashion editors within his SS24 audience and thought ‘Ugly!’. That’s a lie, but the designer did show a slack-lined coat emblazoned with the phrase “Oh you look ugly” because the contrast between beauty and ugliness, and the ugliness of perfection, is a long-standing preoccupation of Yamamoto’s. As always the collection was mostly monochromatic, with bright greys, whites and black, but with the occasional splash of red (to represent blood, and all the bad things happening in the world at present). Taken as a whole, the collection has a rough, consciously unfinished edge: pieces are held together with visible stitching and large safety pins, and spare pieces of fabric are woven into the garments. The prints and patterns, meanwhile, were influenced by art books dating from the middle ages to the present era. But instead of using different historical references for different pieces, Yamamoto aimed to merge them together into a cohesive whole.
Watched over by a brooding statue of famed short Napoleon Bonaparte, Matthew M Williams sent a battalion of models through Paris’ most prestigious military monument for SS24. Having built his career on streetwear, the designer continued to take a sledgehammer to the concept of formal elegance: pairing outsized tailoring with lug-soled boots and tactical vests. The collection was inspired by the subtle ways in which schoolboys customise their uniforms, adapting a set of constraints to suit their own personal style – big, slovenly shirts, too-tight knitwear, shrunken bombers and technical jackets worn with deliberately ill-fitting suits. Longline t-shirts were punctured with metallic portholes, and tuxedo trousers with reflective discs. Code-clashing and anti-authoritarian, the whole thing rode on the evolving nature of formalwear, untethered to its past association with staid conservative values.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of Parisian teenagers stood at the foot of the Passerelle Debilly – a 125-metre bridge overlooking the Eiffel Tower – screaming for K-pop icon Vernon. So desperate were they for a blurred photo of the musician, that Pharrell Williams managed to pass through the crowd with minimal fanfare, taking a seat to support his longtime collaborator’s SS24 collection at Kenzo. As the sun sank into the seine, Nigo travelled over his memories of City Pop – an American-sounding genre of Japanese pop music that was popularised in the 80s – with a collection that straddled east and west. There were traditional judo jackets reimagined as chore jackets and kimono-cut puffers, while denim pieces were etched with ancient wave prints. Japan continues to be one of the biggest importers of Ivy League style and so longline jackets and chambray shirts were embroidered with the doodles found on 1950s American graduation garb, while models walked in overblown baker boy caps and tricolour sweaters and a whole host of pieces bearing a retro-fied Kenzo logo in swashed cursive by Japanese illustrator Verdy.
Plenty of designers have approached this season – among them Ludovic de Saint Sernin and Dolce & Gabbana – as an opportunity to reground themselves. Alexandre Mattiusi also spoke about the need to return AMI to its essence, citing a desire to revisit the 90s, when he first felt inspired by fashion. And so there were wide-cut suits in smokey pastels and too-small cashmere vests and minimal, knitted columns. Even the more attention-seeking pieces – camo-sequined denim, thigh-slit leather skirts, and LBDs – had a laissez-faire, uncomplicated attitude. It was about wisdom and confidence, embodied best by Vincent Cassel, who swaggered with absolute nonchalance in a double-breasted, mafioso-striped suit. Mattiuisi understands that the sexiest people never try too hard to look fashionable, they just wear good jeans.