Emotional goodbyes and sartorial comebacks: all the goings-on at Paris men's fashion week

Stephen Doig
Models at the Hermès show - AFP or licensors
Models at the Hermès show - AFP or licensors

Front-row felons, fiery encounters and innovative new eveningwear dominated the Paris men's fashion shows...

The comeback

Roman heritage house Brioni has had its share of tumult; the appointment of social media star and former fashion buyer Justin O’Shea as its creative director raised eyebrows due to his lack of design training or tailoring experience, only for him to unceremoniously depart six months later (after a global re-brand to boot - no easy task to unpick).

But after several rudderless months, new designer’s Nina Maria Nitsche’s first collection was a lauded return to form; alongside the most exacting tailored pieces, crafted by Penne-based artisans who must train for over seven years to perfect their skill, were new bespoke eveningwear proposals that were astonishing in their craft.

Paris men's fashion week Bespoke tapestry jacket Brioni
Bespoke tapestry jacket from Brioni

A crushed velvet, egg-shell shaded tuxedo bore silk lapels riddled with tiny slashes, like feathers, and embroidered with birds to echo a Chinese tapestry. It showcased the peerless skill of a house that’s been in the shadows for too long. The spotlight’s firmly on now.

The fond farewell

Kate Moss said she couldn’t hear her cue to step onto the catwalk because the cheers were too loud: Kim Jones’ departure as head of menswear at Louis Vuitton meant his final bow - flanked by Ms Moss and Naomi Campbell - brought the house down. His has been an 11 year tenure that married modernity and sports-influence with the traditions of the storied maison, with his swansong a sentimental greatest hits collection.

Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss Kim Jones Louis Vuitton Paris men's fashion week - Credit: Dominique Charriau/WireImage
Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss walk down the catwalk with Kim Jones as he takes his final bow Credit: Dominique Charriau/WireImage

Gauzy transparent fabrics from seasons past, adventurer attire (from this Attenborough enthusiast) and the most covetable soft-shoulder cashmere coats you’re likely to encounter. His new role hasn’t been announced, and nor has his successor - but it’s going to be hard task keeping up with the Jones’.

The new suit shapes

That baseline of a man’s formal wardrobe, the suit, has been subject to some degree of scrutiny of late. Kris Van Assche at Dior Homme took the template of the house’s 1947 Bar Jacket for women and applied it to a man’s wardrobe, narrow on the torso with strong, sculptural shoulders.

At Berluti, Haider Ackermann created narrow, slickly-cut suits in saturated colours like copper and baby pink with cropped trousers showing off stomping military boots.

The Bar Jacket re-imagined at Dior Homme - Credit: Getty Images
The Bar Jacket re-imagined at Dior Homme Credit: Getty Images

The unlikely muses

There was something of a rhinestone cowboy on the catwalk at Dries Van Noten, with a hint of Nudie Cohen’s rodeo tailoring in the fringed shirting and studded jackets.

Dries Van Noten autumn/winter 2018/19 - Credit: Getty Images
Dries Van Noten autumn/winter 2018/19 Credit: Getty Images

At Stella McCartney, the designer referenced the knits and Modish suits of her famous father, as well as her Savile Row training days in a series of Prince of Wales check tailoring.

The material boys

Silk pyjamas were once derided as the attire of Hugh Hefner-aspiring pensioners; now they are a probable option for eveningwear (the dinner shirt’s terribly stiff and starchy anyway).

Brioni have created a pair in soft gold, while Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen upped the ante for your after-dark attire with beautiful silk pyjama suits dotted with Japonaise beaded embroidery.

Pyjama style at Alexander McQueen - Credit: Getty Images
Pyjama style at Alexander McQueen Credit: Getty Images

The touch-and-go moment

The setting for the atmospheric Hermès show - a 17th century former monastery cloisters dotted with burning pyres as the wind howled - was certainly eerie, but the real heart-in-mouth moment came when the wind changed, driving licking flames and embers towards the models proceeding through the Wicker Man arrangements.

The poor fellows soldiered on gamely, with nary a singe to those cashmere sweaters and leather coats.

Hermès Paris men's fashion week - Credit: AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu
Models traverse a fiery corridor at Hermès Credit: AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu

The front row furores

Topshop heiress Chloe Green is on a mission to prove that her Hot Felon (for that is his official title, having gained international celebrity thanks to a particularly dashing mugshot) Jeremy Meeks is The One, debuting him proudly on the front rows of Cerruti and Balmain.

David Victoria Brooklyn Beckham Louis Vuitton Paris men's fashion week - Credit: Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images
The Beckhams front row at Louis Vuitton Credit: Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images

At Dior Homme, Karl Lagerfeld made his first outing with a new snowy beard - a high fashion Santa - while the show opened with Cameron Alborzian, the male model who shot to fame as Madonna’s paramour in the Express Yourself video.

The Berluti show peppered its front row with Call Me By Your Name star Timothee Chalamet and Isabelle Huppert - the latter keeping shades on at all time to maintain those glacial Parisian fashion credentials - and the Beckhams came decked out in Vuitton for its show, camera phones at the ready for that finale