Paris Men's Fashion Week SS19: The uniforms at Juun.J and Comme des Garçons Homme Plus, Thom Browne's playdate and the quiet magnificence of Hermès


Text: Andrea Sim

Juun.J shines in the styling of his collection, Comme des Garçons Homme Plus brings T-shirts, animals and wigs into the mix, Thom Browne whips up a childlike utopia, and Hermès embarks on an immaculate outing — as always

Jung Wook Jun found a theme and he stuck to it, with construction uniforms quick to take centre stage on today's runway. It came in a billowing hybrid of a hoodie sewn to a jacket — navy and spliced with that highlighter yellow that also dominated Versace in Milan — transformed into trousers with the arm sleeves left flapping from the waistline for the women. More tame iterations were half slung over models' shoulders, layered over a bomber (a Juun.J signature) or trench. Was Jung riffing off the idea of protection? It certainly seemed so as after the soliloquy on construction uniforms came a series of clear and tinted plastic coats — also styled over trench coats, and both over and under check suits for an interesting take on the classic get-up. While the designer could've gone with an edited version of his line-up and still drive home his point (the outfits felt repetitive at times) there was still an interesting design perspective to glean; especially towards the end where oversized jackets were doubled up like Siamese twins, one worn by the model and the other left hanging where they conjoined.

The atmosphere at the Comme des Garçons Homme Plus show was way more solemn than one we'd ever been to. Most were already seated just three minutes past the time stated on the schedule (a rather uncommon sight at fashion week) and patiently waiting with chatter at an all time low. The power of Rei Kawakubo had everyone on their best behaviour. And now, the good stuff. When the mouth of the runway lit up, a procession of models in black suits — ruched and crinkled at every turn of the seam — walked out wearing resin wigs, followed by camouflage ensembles, achieved by packing dozens of gauze-y, leaf-shaped fabric in khaki, black and tan to create a 3D effect on jackets and trousers. An oxymoron, given that Comme as we all know is hardly about blending in. Tie-dye, also seen at Issey Miyake and Virgil Abloh's Louis Vuitton, had a moment in the form of a blue suit, partly obscured under a deconstructed T-shirt. The latter showed up multiple times throughout the collection as a layering piece. The more overt showstoppers came next: vibrant plaid, gingham and candy-striped suiting that were patchworked and twisted in Kawakubo fashion served as a jolt to the eye, with colours going into overdrive hereafter. On the flowier and relatively simple closing looks (by Comme standards), chunky gold chains strung with life-size animal jaws also made of resin as pendants — evoking the idea of parading one's hunting game — gave it the CDG stamp. Despite elements of the quotidian in the mix like the duct tape detailing spotlighted in the gallery above and tees enlisted as embellishment, Kawakubo made sure to nip, tuck and warp every single bit for a stimulating, visual orgasm.

What Sunnei tried to convey in Milan was executed expertly at Thom Browne in Paris, with both collections sparking conversations about growing up and, the privileges and joy of youth. Except, in Browne fashion, even the set was a treat — the runway was a well-trimmed lawn spotted with blown-up paper windmills, balloons and a little playhouse. Models dressed as garden gnomes kicked off the show. While some busied themselves "mowing" the lawn, one was tasked to give out fresh flowers to some guests from a wheelbarrow. It was idyllic. Utopian. The clothes solidified this childlike perspective, with Browne sending out half the collection oversized, peppered with his signature whale prints, pastel ginghams, pleated man skirts and precision tailoring imbued with fresh fodder in the form of kiddy candy stripes and high-waisted suspender shorts. While clothes cut large can come across sloppy when mishandled, that was hardly the case here. Despite Browne's shorts, jackets and coats — usually tailored to fit like a glove — taking on supersize, they held shape and structure. Paired with brightly coloured brogues that were given three or four-inch platforms, the idea of a child dressing up in adult garments was crystal clear. The next half of the collection saw a repeat of the exact same looks shown earlier, except in fitted silhouettes time around with some models even sporting grey wigs. For that reason, Browne's narrative of the inevitable passage of time was extremely thorough, but he always is when playing out a show concept. In what seemed like a worry-free paradise paired with the sombre notes of David Bowie's 'There Was A Happy Land' ringing in our ears (the lyrics expressing a disdain for adults), we couldn't help but feel that the designer's cheery outing belied wistfulness and sadness too.

The opening look at Hermès said it all. Dressed in a reversible lambskin leather blouson and trousers in that house orange was a model grasping a boxy, leather bag dyed in yellows, greens and blues to dégradé effect. While several designers (Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton for one and also, Issey Miyake) showed interpretations of tie-dye this season, there were few that came close to the Hermès take on such swirling colours — seamless, almost to the point of aching beauty. Also, the show set. Crisp white cotton shirts, boxers, tees and socks hanging from old-school laundry lines strung across the venue. Given that most are in agreement of not airing dirty laundry in public, the decor seemed to refute the very sentiment, though of course, the Hermès hand is in spades. Scratch that, we have here a full house, in a just-thin-enough hunter green full leather suit that flowed with the models step; billowing leather parkas that looked weightless enough to break out in summer; and a patchwork snakeskin shirt tucked into narrow-fit trousers that was at once handsome, but insouciant. This very quality carried the show, emanating from the casual cuts in loose-fit tees, trousers with elastic hemlines, cardigans and hooded sweatshirts — either elevated by panelled water snake skin, the aforementioned dégradé effect, a 3-dimensional check texture or, treated to a shadow pattern so subtle it had us looking twice and thrice despite being inches away from the models. In the gallery above, we spotlight the accessories, with close-ups for good measure.

All coverage from Paris Men's Fashion Week spring/summer 2019.


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