Paris Menswear Day Two: Bianca Saunders, Hed Mayner, AMI and Acne Studios
All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. And in few endeavors is that truer than in fashion, especially on Wednesday in Paris Fashion Week Menswear.
Among 16 shows, presentations and videos, an eclectic quartet – a Briton, an Israeli, a Frenchman and a Swede – provided plenty of food for thought. FashionNetwork.com looks at the day’s highlights.
Is Bianca Saunders the next big thing in menswear? Judging from her debut runway show staged in Paris on Wednesday, Saunders looks like she will have plenty of influence in her métier.
Saunders makes clothes that are, at first glance, deceptively simple. She cuts with considerable subtlety, while placement of folds and tucks are unexpected and restrained.
Last year, Saunders nabbed the very prestigious ANDAM award, whose previous winners have included Martin Margiela and Iris Van Herpen, despite only have staged a handful of presentations, and no catwalk show. So, there was a great sense of expectation as the first looks came out inside the Palais de Tokyo. Very much an indie label, Bianca showed inside a space that bigger brands often use as their backstage.
Saunders works with few prints, and there were few fireworks in this collection. Nonetheless the collection looked very special. Hems are displaced; patch-pockets seem to morph into coats; all folds seem novel.
Much of the collection was made in denim, with slightly askew seams; most garments looked oversized but never feeling disproportionate. One button-free jean-jacket and matching pants look was really magnificent. Another slim-line in indigo denim was pretty perfect too, as was an over-sized shirt jacket with front zip. They all managed to capture her understated but instantly recognizable DNA.
Sweaters with front folds; super elegant yet never stiff Donegal-tweed-style chesterfields; leather jackets with front plaquettes and some great crisp suits with subtle notches all had great aplomb. And the few graphic, computer-generated prints she showed also had punch and felt very right.
Mega volume yet mellifluous mode at Hed Mayner, the cerebral Israeli designer who was the Karl Lagerfeld Prize debut winner in the 2019 LVMH Prize.
Due to the pandemic Hed unveiled his winter 2022 collection in a video shot inside the Centre National de la Danse in Paris, in a great statement of avant-garde tailoring and exceptional outerwear. Mayner, in the four years since first showing in Paris, has built a reputation for rugged volume and huge silhouettes that owes nothing to Balenciaga.
Very much his own master, Mayner has a singular view or tailoring, especially in this collection, produced in Romania and as far north as Lithuania.
“We started with tailoring, first old school and very stiff but then took away, bit by bit, the padding and eventually moved to this blanket look. So, the whole profile and mood changed,” explained the Tel Aviv-based designer.
Just 28 looks, and not one of them redundant, all climaxing with marvelous matelassé blanket coats made of Liberty-style Alpine florals, for a soft, faded and bohemian image.
Mayner also worked with Macintosh to create a clever series of voluminous parkas, coats and humungous capes, incorporating the brand's rubberized techniques. Expect a proper capsule with the UK marque in the future.
Everything completed with “destroyed knits” hefty cable sweaters, pullover/scarves; woolly helmets – all coming with holes and worn seams.
And in the swish video, several female models wearing boyfriends’ coats and jackets – adding a soupçon of extra charm, as the soundtrack played "In Every Dream Home a Heartache" by master crooner Bryan Ferry.
Ideal for a broken-up collection by a designer with a singular vision.
The omens looked promising before Wednesday’s AMI show in the Bourse de Paris, the city’s former stock exchange. A gaggle of French actresses and rappers in the front row, a cast of cool veterans – from Edie Campbell to, believe or not, Isabelle Adjani – and a mob of several hundred fans hunting for their Instagram images outside.
However, the muse never really quite sang in this collection – frequently retro; and a tad too predictable. Not that weren’t plenty of commercial clothes – from the volume overcoats to the houndstooth cabans. No surprise given AMI founder and designer Alexandre Mattiussi’s uncanny finger on the fashion pulse. Moreover, his kicky use of Day-Glo colors in kissing pink tuxedos or electric lime blazers did feel fresh.
But far too often, the clothes echoed French ideas of good tastes from the nineties. If someone had told you these men’s clothes – whether long gray flannel sack-suits or white wool parkas - were designed by Dominique Morlotti or Patrick Lavoix for Dior or Lanvin, or that the women’s clothes – from the muddy cheetah-print pony skin to oversized trenches - were from very late Saint Laurent, when Yves was almost in his dotage – well, you would have believed them.
The show was not helped by absurd staging, which had most of the audience placed in dank corridors around a huge atrium. Sadly, a classic example of inane catwalk production.
Given Mattiussi’s recent run of powerful collections, this show will surely be a temporary setback. One imagines Alexandre's ability to read the zeitgeist and his sense of fashion theatre will return and bloom again next season.
No show and no video at Acne Studios, but plenty of ideas all the same, from Scandinavia’s most important designer and the region’s most influential brand.
Giant d’Artagnan boots meet crazy waders; sculpted biker jackets; Lapland tracker boots designed for winter clubbing; and some great scrunched-up black leather blazers and redingotes with contrasting sherbet buttons – and that was just the leather selection.
Wild and wacky kitchen-rag-wool weaves sewn onto sequined shirts, which sounds like something of a mess – and was – but yet looked great. All staged inside Espace Commines in the Marais, site of Helmut Lang’s greatest shows a quarter century ago.
Painted over crocheted beanies and gloves; mashed-up silver clubbing shirts or crumpled summer trenches, as Acne Studio’s designer Jonny Johansson kept his creative thinking in overdrive. Who needs another video when a designer’s ideas are that fresh?
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