Wednesday, 28 January 2009


Taking a good look at the footwear on offer at Bread & butter in Barcelona last week there was a real trend for the perennial hunting, shooting, fishing looks of the season. I loved all the wools and texturized fabrications. Hell stick in some sheepskin as an inner lining and you're all set for winter. My favourite was the Woorich and Converse collaboration - a work boot for the Chuck Taylor that says lumberjack boot. The sales rep described the range as a result of Converse wanting to "winterize" its key products.

Captions top to bottom: DMs, Tretorn, Schmoove, Converse

Monday, 26 January 2009

Paris menswear: new life at old houses

From fusty and musty to shiny and new this AW09 Paris menswear season is all about who's breathing new life into the old French houses and the Germans and Brits are in on the act too.

This season's Paris men's fashion week kicked off with visiting German "house" label Hugo by Hugo Boss and now designed by Beligan designer Bruno Pieters - who is charged with making Hugo cool again. He looks set to be on course with a dark brooding colour palette of mostly black and white (set against the signature Hugo red runway) mixed with monotone graphic and optical print pieces. Very Germanic and very post-modern for a new take on the oft-referenced Kraftwerk look of the early 80s.

Meanwhile their efforts for womenswear have proved hotter than last season's it bag, so why not try the same for menswear? It's time for a roll-call of some of the most talented designers in Paris to expand their remits this season - as Antonio Marras at Kenzo, Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy and Nicholas Decarnin at Balmain all take over the men's creative direction of their respective houses for AW 09.

At Kenzo, Marras took his troop of young men off to Russia for a journey of military influences through the ages. With the usual visual feast of inspirations as his set Marras projected scenes of industrial unrest onto giant video screens along the runway with cartoonish communist imagery and landmarks such as St Basils along the way. But it was the way Marras expertly enveloped his models in layers of pastel military tones or delicate Japanese embroidery on outerwear producing a lightness of touch for such a heavy subject. Marras is very much at home for Kenzo.

And at Givenchy, Tisci took over from the obscure "design team" initially for last season and looks to be getting into his well known gothic, romantic stride, as with his women's offer. Focusing on fetishistic leatherwear and layering of textures, such as shine over matt, chains next to skin, cobweb knits or sexy lacing and thick wool cabans it looks as if Tisci has also found his comfort zone for the house.

Decarnin at Balmain was a quiet, exclusive (off-schedule) affair for a handful of buyers and press only. Still riding on the success of a widely acclaimed womenswear collection this spring, Decarnin delivered much of the same roughed up outerwear and denim mix for an expensive take on the 80s look last worn by boy band Bros.

Meanwhile Stuart Vevers at Loewe is following two seasons of hit womenswear collections with a new approach to menswear for the Spanish leather house. His is a quiet luxe approach to gentlemanly dressing using what he describes as a "louche" feel inspired by French actor Alain Delon.

While we're on the subject of another guest fashion designer perfectly at home in Paris, another newbie on the schedule is Jean Paul Knott for the house of Cerruti now in his second season. This winter Knott has focused on developing contrasting textures, a house palette of blues and more relaxed silhouettes - easy dressing for older men?

All eyes were on Brit designer Kim Jones for his debut at British menswear establishment Dunhill. He didn't disappoint with his approach to new traditionalism: "It was about taking the DNA of Dunhill and turning it into now - the leather, the white shirt, the Dunhill blazer." Strong points were the flat front tailoring, blazers and graphic panel knits - effortless charisma stuff. And he has years of fun to look forward to unearthing all those art deco vintage trinkets and leatherware items.

And it was about time someone got around to reviving one of the fustiest French houses of them all. Façonnable has been more popular in the US than France for years but not in a good way. New creative chief Eric Wright is an industry veteran having worked for Lagerfeld and Cavalli for years. His unisex vision for the house has luxury and comfort at its core and he has not lost sight of his mainstay WASP customer with plenty of shrug-on blazers, comfy cords and cosy cashmere knits. Describing one of his favourite pieces as a "preppy wool tuxedo" for "when you forget you're wearing something" Wright looks sure to breathe new life in fusty old Faconnable.

Lamentable news is that the rumour mill is cranking up again for Dior Homme designer Kris van Assche who's show for the house was in keeping with his new steady creative vision - all plays on volume and the Belgian's twist on relaxed tailoring options. How long will he last? The odds don't look good, especially when you find out that LVMH boss Bernard Arnault is bankrolling Gareth Pugh's first dedicated menswear show in Paris and you compare his gothic, slimline and edgy signature style with that of the much lauded ex-Dior Homme designer Hedi Slimane. Actions speak louder than words on this subject.

It's worth remembering the success stories of past menswear appointments still going strong at Parisian houses. Marc Jacobs can do no wrong for Louis Vuitton - especially with this season's take on "the travelling wardrobe of an African king"; Véronique Nichanian at Hermès who wanted to add some sexiness and energy to the menswear collection she has been overseeing for 20 years; the formidable rise of Lucas Ossendrijver at Lanvin with this winter's move into relaxed military looks and the exclusive domain that Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga rules.

I like the way The Fashionisto describes this winter's collection: "Unlike Raf Simons, designer Nicolas Ghesquière realizes that a necessity for the upcoming season is wearable pieces that will have a long life."(pictures from Hypebeast via WWD)

Old or new there's a wealth of talent keeping menswear interesting for this winter season.

Captions top to bottom: Hugo by Hugo Boss, Kenzo, Givenchy, Loewe, Cerutti, Dunhill, Façonnable, Dior Homme, Gareth Pugh, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Lanvin, Balenciaga

Friday, 23 January 2009

Paris menswear mixes pared down utility with outdoor appeal at trade shows

Tranoi Homme and new success story Capsule are leading the charge among independent retailers and contemporary labels as the Paris trade shows with the most to offer discerning menswear customers.

And trends are a plenty, if pared down utility and outdoor pursuits are of interest. Labels to watch included Jehee Sheen, a Korean designer who is ex-Armani and just starting out on his own. See clever ways with tailoring and tuxedo shapes re-worked.

Look out for Nude's all black collection of exquisite knits - long line cardigans and jackets work the Italian knitwear specialist's signature textures and intricate twisted garments into new menswear shapes. This is tactile yet dark utilitarian dressing for a new layering mood.

Coal Black
looks set to have a strong season with its modern take on US lumberjack outerwear jackets meets indie rocker kid. 70s shapes combine padded leather bombers and washed denim shirts with skinny tailored pants and great tweeds or shearling jackets in heather and purple or black.

In the same vein is RT Ramdane Touhami that rocker meets hillbilly look has his name stamped all over it!

Over at Capsule - British favourites such as YMC, Oliver Spencer and Tim Soar are pulling in the crowds of US buyers while Swedish label 5th Avenue Shoe Repair is also proving popular. Nom de Guerre and April 77 are top of the denim and casual arena.

Footwear too is strong - at both Tranoi and Capsule. Hottest brands include newcomer Sewn for its high end Italian leather padded boots and serious hiking numbers, Common Projects for more of the same elegant high tops, and Japanese designer Kenjiikeda's fur lined hikers for pure luxury.

Captions from top: Jehee Sheen, Common Projects, Sewn, Coal Black, Nude, Kenjiikeda, RT Ramdane Touhami, Tim Soar, Nom de Guerre, YMC, April 77, Creative Recreation, Oliver Spencer.

Check out my album of product photos for my edited highlights from Tranoi and Capsule AW 09:
Tranoi Homme Paris Jan 2009

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Dover Street Market: Tachiagari, spring 09

London's designer emporium Dover Street Market has unveiled new spring offerings in its seasonal Tachiagari - and it's another fine season to visit the Comme des Garçons curated space full of designer treasures and exclusive collaborations.

This season the preview event (last Friday) for press was marked with a limited edition book signing for A Bathing Ape founder Nigo's new tome and a resulting 200 deep queue outside the store. Some were queuing for a glimpse of their hero and some were waiting for the UK's first ever Nowhere boutique to open first thing Saturday. Loved the Bathing Ape PR nails that my blogging buddy snapped on Disney Roller Girl.

Hidden away downstairs in the basement at DSM, Nowhere became an underground phenomenon 15 years ago when the tiny collaborative store from Nigo and Jun Takahashi (Undercover) opened in Harajuku, Tokyo. It was a pivotal moment in the early 90s revival of Harajuku's fashion scene. For 2009, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons has invited Takahashi and Nigo to recreate Nowhere in the basement at DSM. Among the initial selection of Nowhere sweats and tees, will be a revival of Last Orgy - the first collection of items that Jun and Nigo made together. The replicated DSM Nowhere boutique takes over from the previous A Bathing Ape store in Soho and acts as the exclusive London stockist for both A Bathing Ape and Billionaire Boys Club - with its own space just opposite Nowhere.

Still in the basement new additions include the second Stuart Vevers for Loewe collection (all bright pop colours, mixed leathers and serious gold hardware on handbags, jewellery and luggage) where the hot London designer is setting the classic Spanish leather goods company alight - alongside the latest Ferragamo vintage shoe display - all one offs from the archive.

Moving upstairs don't miss the striking giant black octopus in the entrance window from interior design collective Les Trois Garçons. The collaborative polystyrene piece was commissioned by Kawakubo who wanted "something dark and futuristic to go with the spring Comme des Garçons collection", according to creative director Hassan Abdullah, who has also curated an antique furniture area on the second floor - shoes and accessories mingle among the art curios and vintage pieces - it's in place until the end of February.

Moving on up check out the refreshed first floor area housing the new Comme des Garçons Shirt collection. I loved the glass casing and new shaded paneled shirting - not to mention the colour pops of Tricker brogues.

And on second there's a raft of firsts from a refreshed Undercover space to a rich, eclectic corner featuring World Archive's vintage wardrobe of costumes from around the world. A treasure trove of global fineries that will keep collectors there browsing for hours. Also new on this floor is Adam Kimmel, Charles Anastase, Moncler Gamme Rouge and Thom Browne.

Up another floor on third and all hail to Alber Elbaz for Lanvin with the brand new Lanvin area where mannequins are lounging around iChatting to each other about their favourite bags (I like to think they are leaving comments on their favourite blogs). Menswear and womenswear join the new denim capsule range alongside a selection of bridal pieces. Fashion and technology mingle in the epitome of hi-fi style. And if that wasn't enough Stephen Jones pours his hat creations onto a neon pink tree hat stand. Just around the corner find newbies at DSM including Sophia Kokosalaki, Rodarte, David Szeto among a newly dressed corner from Hussein Chalayan and an alcove full of brown tickets hiding the Edition 24 by YSL. Meanwhile Pierre Hardy footwear has a new area showcasing the French designer's futuristic sports collection for men and women.

From sneaker and footwear finds such as Visvim or Ferragamo and music/fashion hybrid labels April 77 or Kitsune, DSM houses the creme of current global fashion brands - and the best range of innovative, collaborative designer spaces. In today's current retail climate it's entertainment within retail environments that keeps loyal customers coming back for more - something Rei Kawakubo knows and executes in new ways every season at DSM.