Monday, 26 January 2009

Men's F/W 09 Paris: Quick Roundup

1) Gareth Pugh

We were hopping up and down with excitement as soon as we heard Gareth Pugh was going to show his first full menswear-only collection, and when the show - the last of the week in Paris - finally came he didn't disappoint. Sure some of it was similar to his women's FW08 collection (we've seen those black triangles before, when we had a strop about not being able to find any stockists), but his aesthetic translated surprisingly well onto a full men's collection, and we loved it. Rumours reported on suggest that it was his LVMH 'audition' because the French luxury goods giant might be considering booting Kris van Assche from Dior Homme (and about time that would be..) and handing the role over to Pugh. Funnily enough, this was an idea we had ages ago during one of many internet forum discussions about who should have taken over from Hedi Slimane at DH (oh the lives we lead), and we'd still be really excited if it came to anything, as long as it didn't dilute Pugh's own line.

2) Lanvin

There were some fresh shapes present Lanvin, along with a strong underlying military theme, but otherwise the collection felt a little dull. It seems a generally good collection, backed up as ever by Lanvin's luxury look and feel, but hardly befitting of the sort of optimism they were hinting at by sending a model dressed as Obama down the runway at the end of the show (which in reality probably amounted to nothing more than a publicity stunt).

3) Ann Demeulemeester

A collection which didn't do much for us personally, but should keep Demeulemeester fans happy with its brooding, dark Romanticism. We appreciate it, but don't feel any great affinity towards it.

4) Raf Simons

Perhaps mindful of the credit crunch (although we rather hope not), Raf Simons played it safe sticking close to classic tailoring. We liked the collection, but we do prefer it when Raf Simons takes bigger risks. The silhouette distortions towards the end of the show were interesting, but overall pale in comparison to the originality of his amazing SS08 and FW09 collections.

5) Comme des Garçons

Like Miuccia Prada, you can tell that Rei Kawakubo really thinks about what she designs, going through some kind of intellectual process as well as a creative one, and sometimes we understand her vision, other times not. Looking through this collection, it's not one we like, but it would seem churlish to denounce it based on our personal taste when you can tell there is substance to it, even if it's not for us. Still, there did seem to be a conflict at times between the visually pleasing and the intelligent (two variables which seemed mostly to be mutually exclusive).

6) Maison Martin Margiela

We could make neither head nor tail of this, and frankly the collection itself didn't really invite us to try any harder. There were decent pieces, but given what a sensationally talented designer Martin Margiela is (which tends to manifest itself more through his women's designs), this was a let-down.

7) Paul Smith

Over-thinking (and under-achieving) seems to have been endemic this Paris men's fashion week, so it was something of a relief to see that Sir Paul had stuck to his usual formula (of good British tailoring with his trademark 'eccentric' twists) that works well.

8) Dries van Noten

If there's just one big thing to take away from the FW09 shows, both Milan and Paris, it seems to be a return towards more traditional tailoring. It was hard to tell if Dries' exaggerated silhouettes were meant to be futuristic or nostalgic (80s? 50s?), but it seems that for several big designers the return of the power-shoulder is one of their ways of interpreting the current global condition.

9) Number (N)ine

Cut through the waffle about the collection having been inspired by a hotel room in Alaska, and you'll find another strong collection from Takahiro Miyashita, which feels as subversive as ever with its scarecrow silhouettes, but is backed up by some great details and skilful design. The runway presentation was dramatic, with the initial ornate outfits suddenly followed by 28 much more austere beige-and-black and then white-and-black outfits, although you can tell that even with the runway styling stripped away this collection will yield lots of great wearable pieces.

10) Dior Homme

Perhaps we're sometimes a little harsh about Kris van Assche at Dior Homme. There was nothing overtly offensive about this collection (save the dreaded harem/Hammer pants, of which KVA seems inexplicably fond), it just felt very commercial and rather dull. The former problem could be because LVMH likes to keep Dior Homme, a commercially lucrative line, fairly plain and accessible, but it seems Kris van Assche just never had the personality to fill Hedi Slimane's boots while carving out a fresh identity for the brand, although a certain Gareth Pugh certainly does..

11) Givenchy

It was a shame that flash of bright pink, that flicker of excitement, from Riccardo Tisci's SS09 Givenchy men's collection had been fully extinguished this time round. The overall mood was dark and sombre, which we have no problem with, and although you could see Tisci trying out some fairly innovative things, there was not much interest overall, and as Tim Blanks, at, put it: "But one was also disconcerted by a sense that it would be interesting to probe Tisci's mind, to learn if or where the men he imagines in his clothes actually exist."

12) Mihara Yasuhiro

Mihara Yasuhiro's collections have been sort of quietly simmering away for the past few seasons (at least it seems like that to us, because it's a brand we hear nothing about here and stockists in London are, as far as we know, nil), but we think there's definitely something more going on, and it would be nice if his understated, quirky elegance had more exposure here.

13) Junya Watanabe

Watanabe produced a successful collection by toying around with hunting and outdoor clothes, de-constructing and re-constructing them, and adding strong injections of colour. The design looked skilful, and the pieces well made, and even though the collection had few of the visual hallmarks of collections we generally tend towards, overall we liked it.

See all designers and full reports at
All runway images are from


  1. The Number (N)ine collection was one of my absolute favorites from the Paris shows this year, but I was reminded how out of sync my taste is with, at the least, mainstream America, when on three blogs today I've seen that collection mercilessly ridiculed. I liked Yasuhiro's a lot too. I'm glad to see those highlighted here.

  2. very good stuff going on here ( the collections and your constant catwalk updates).

    some tasty collections and i can only hope these pugh rumours become reality.

    love the pugh collection, especially the shoes, i know footwear gets overlooked sometimes, and also the dior boots too. i very much liked the paul smith collection, it had a different feel to it than the last few, the trend for larger silhouettes is certainly becoming as popular as ever now. liked the coat fastening detail in PS's range too.

    i did like the flow of the lanvin collection, works very well together and i can see that on the fashion savvy men around europe.

    also im very impressed with Mihara Yasuhiro's collection, i'm not at all familiar with his work so i'm going to check it out right now.