Paris Menswear Spring 2014: Rick, Raf and Nanook of the North
I hate the word ‘trend’. I don’t think it has any relevance anymore – trying to summarise the season in a pithy soundbite just isn’t possible these days. There are so many designers, so many visions and just so many clothes. Tying them all together under some clumsy idealogical umbrella is of no use to journalists, designers, or the consumers.
But there are shared outlooks, twinned aesthetics. In Milan you get the feeling it’s all been trend-forecast and focus-grouped to death – that trite ’sports luxe’ thing we saw popping up all over the place. Didn’t we see it a few years ago, too, in the same hot summer showrooms? When designers happen upon the same ideas in Paris, it somehow feels more genuine and natural. Especially when the designers are Rick Owens and Raf Simons. Rick was sat front-row at Simons’ show – we were both seated inside a Jean Prouvé glass and iron construction. It wasn’t too dissimilar to one of those Milanese showrooms. Both Owens and his wife Michèle Lamy seemed relaxed, excited to see Simons’ show, not too concerned about the fact their own was barely 12 hours away. They were confident.
I wonder what ran through his mind when he saw Simons’ stretched-out polos, drop-crotch romper suits, short-shorts and ginormous techy trainers. There’s a phrase I like to use in this kind of instance: he got Nanooked. That comes from the wonderful documentary Unzipped by Douglas Keeve, documenting the creation of designer Isaac Mizrahi’s autumn/winter 1994 collection. He was inspired by a 1922 silent documentary film by Robert J. Flaherty, Nanook of the North. Unfortunately, so was Jean Paul Gaultier, who showed his ‘Inuit Chic’ look a week or so before Mizrahi.
Rick Owens’ collection contained the same elongated torsos, abbreviated hemlines and oversized footwear as Simons. And the effect was very much the same, feeling dynamic, modern, new. Those words are becoming something of a mantra for the season, which is satisfying. It’s interesting when designers seek to create something that looks and feels different, something that tries to propel us down a new road. Both Simons and Owens felt like they pushed a button to change the way we look at proportions. There was also an interesting focus on youth, Simons dressing baby-boys in baby-gros, Owens kitting out the teenage punk that dwells in many of us.
If we want to dumb it down – Rick Owens loves dumbing down what he does, so I’m sure he wouldn’t mind – both collections placed a strong emphasis on the short, and acres of bare leg. Junya Watanabe showed that this morning too – there were a dozen looks before we saw a pair of trousers. And even they were turned up at the ankle.
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