Fantasy reigns supreme on Paris' menswear runways
Fri Jan 23, 6:00 PM EST
Jenny Barchfield, Associated Press Writer



PARIS – Fantasy reigned supreme in Paris on Friday as designers here refused to buckle to market pressures and continued sending out wild, imaginative collections.

British designer Galliano sent out models dressed as the half-goat, half-man Pan, while Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy probed the Id with his S&M-inspired collection.

French label Thierry Mugler also created an imaginary world peopled by costumed characters, though the exercise was less successful there.

Only wunderkind Kris Van Assche did the suit — the bedrock of designers elsewhere in these troubled economic times — but his was reworked and revolutionized.

JOHN GALLIANO

Galliano stayed true to his magpie form, peopling his show with musket-toting Minutemen, bare-bottomed barristers and Pan.

The rollicking display, held at a former hanger lit mostly by thousands of twinkling candles, began with musket-toting Minutemen in tricolor hats, swashbuckler boots and flowing, long-tailed jackets.

The models, in white rat tail coiffures, wore low-crotched trousers with full hips that tapered to slim, rauched calves. Models sporting horns and tufts of fluff on their chins and bellies — Pan — wore similar pants, though theirs were embellished with fur through the hips and thighs.

The goat-men then gave way to the accountant's worst nightmare: Proper briefcase-toting professionals who were all business on top and nearly naked on bottom. With a stiff upper lip, they paraded in starched white shirts and shiny Oxford shoes with nothing in between but sexed-up briefs and socks with garters.

THIERRY MUGLER

Thierry Mugler designer Rosemary Rodriguez also sent out models in character, but her 19th-century English lords, WWII fighter pilots and yeti looked more like they were taking part in a costume party than a proper menswear show.

Looks varied wildly, but the pants, some in leather or PCV lame, were uniformly tight and the blazers lean and smartly cut, occasionally belted to look like a gentleman's smoking jacket.

Some of the looks were downright bizarre, like what looked like a butcher's apron in black shearling worn over leather pants. A silver cuff necklace looked like a neck brace aimed at relieving a painful medical condition.

Rodriguez, who hails from Spain and made her menswear debut at Mugler last season, said she wanted each of the looks "to tell a story."

"They are characters that almost take us back to childhood," she explained.

But aside from Johnny Depp, it's hard to imagine many of the pieces making the leap from the runway into real life. After all, young men whose most coveted accessories include canes and pirate eye-patches aren't a dime a dozen.

GIVENCHY

The king of Goth, Riccardo Tisci, probed deeper than ever into the subconscious, delivering a strong, kinky menswear collection infused with a medieval S&M sensibility.

The clothing was tight, cinched onto the body with not-so-comfy looking laces and almost menacing straps.

Models appeared poured into the leather pants, which were studded with laces up the front and zipped up the back to the knee. Woolen sweaters that looked perfectly conventional from the front were cut out into a striking pattern of straps on the back.

Another sweater in a loose knit evoked chain-mail. The footwear, mostly knee-high boots, also took its cue from knights and was made, like armor, out of articulated strips.

Most of the looks were heavily layered. Some combined shorts over thick black leg-warmers with vertical and horizontal ribs, while others featured shearling jackets worn over featherweight sweaters.

Only the last few looks in the collection — three slim, well-tailored suits — made a stab at being conventionally marketable. The rest was pure Id.

KRIS VAN ASSCHE

Layering was also a theme at the Van Assche, whose main mission was to put black jacket through its paces. The 32-year-old designer served up 28 variations on the old menswear staple.

Married with unexpected elements like scrunched knit arm warmers and build-in scarves, his slim, razor-cut blazers became something almost revolutionary.

"It's a reflection on how to wear the black jacket that we all need but that can feel uncomfortable to wear," Van Assche, who also designs for Dior Homme, told The Associated Press.

One jacket appeared to be two at once, in sumptuous velvet from the waist up and in a shiny metallic fabric from the waist down.

One show-stopping look rearranged the elements of the three-piece suit, placing the vest on top of the jacket, its inky black fabric setting off the lame shine of the suit.

At times, Van Assche seemed to be channeling the Star Wars hermit Obi-Wan Kenobi: Some of the most interesting blazers had cape-like hoods growing out of their lapels — an innovation the old Jedi knight would certainly have approved of.


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