By Gersende Rambourg and Robert MacPherson (AFP) – Jun 23, 2011
PARIS — Tuxedos made their mark at the Paris menswear shows on Thursday, with Jean Paul Gaultier and Kim Jones at Louis Vuitton setting the tone.
Gaultier turned the upstairs ballroom at his atelier into a backstage area where a disembodied voice summoned often-bearded models to face the photographers before a seamless white background.
"I wanted the clothes to be seen without theatrical effect," Gaultier explained. "The clothes are easy to wear, with a lot of basics."
True to his mischievous ways, Gaultier dared to mix such unlikely combinations as green plaid or Hawaiian colours with more classic pieces.
Typical was a silky floral pyjama beneath a strict tuxedo jacket intended for evening wear.
At Louis Vuitton, Jones -- an Englishman best known for elegant streetwear -- sent out his first collection for the venerable travel-oriented label under the direction of Marc Jacobs.
US rapper Kanye West and British pop singer Lily Allen were among the guests at the Citroen garden greenhouse who reviewed tuxedo jackets over open-neck white shirts and Bermuda shorts.
Single-button blue blazers over crisp white trousers lent a nautical touch to several of the outfits, and -- not surprisingly for a brand with a luggage heritage -- many looks were rounded off with leather bags.
Earlier on Thursday, the first full day of the Paris spring-summer menswear shows which end on Sunday, Dutch design duo Viktor and Rolf sent out a tuxedo-led collection rich in blue and mustard shades.
A James Bond-ish gleaming blue tux -- matched with a blue bow tie and, horror of horrors, sandals and socks -- set the tone for a range that also included a whale-emblazoned sweatshirt.
The designers themselves -- Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren -- casually stood out at the finale in jumbo-sized sunglasses.
For the thinking man in a hurry, Rick Owens sent out a rather scholarly collection in earthy hues dominated by ankle-length tunics and skirts, sometimes matched with minimally tailored blazers.
"If there's anyone on the planet that can sell skirts to men, I think that it's me," the affable Paris-based Californian said after his fast-paced show beneath the stands of the Bercy stadium.
"It's not like it (skirts) are our best-seller or anything, but we do sell them if people ask for them.... It's a minority and it's a niche, but I like accommodating a niche."
Fabrics ranged from cotton poplins and silk to black leather seersucker, which Owens said he deliberately used because seersucker was not a textile he would normally turn to for his creations.
"I like promoting the idea of dignity," he said, evoking images of Greek philosophers coming together to discuss the meaning of life. "I wanted it to be very beautiful and very simple."
Belgian designer Dries Van Noten, showing in a parking garage turned exhibition space, went for a loose look with oversized shoulders, shorts over leggings and cargo pants tapered at the cuff.
Yohji Yamamoto, subject of a major retrospective in London that ends July 10, similarly favoured fluid wide trousers and relaxed jackets -- as well as pony tails emerging from bowler hats and forage caps.
For its first-ever collection by a collective of designers, another Japanese label, Issey Miyake Men, embraced blue in all its brightest shades for a range of breezy, relaxed looks.
The Paris menswear shows kicked off on Wednesday evening with Sebastian Teigne for Mugler presenting a masculine show full of bare chests and, in one instance, very short leather shorts.
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