Paris Men's Fashion Week SS19: The divergent lenses of Paul Smith, Dunhill and Kenzo


Text: Andrea Sim

On the last day of Paris Men's Fashion Week, Paul Smith ignites a rockabilly spirit, Dunhill adds plenty to the men's tailoring repertoire and Kenzo turns up the volume, quite literally

If the mega-watt vanity mirror lighting — like the kind you'd see backstage at a burlesque show — at Paul Smith wasn't a big enough hint, then the booming music that followed did the deed. It was all very rockabilly, in the boxy cuts of the tailoring with a subtle drop of waist, and vents hitting just where the trousers' pockets ended. This was done so in broken suits as much as matching ones, and Sir Paul favoured the classical greys, browns and tans with the occasional shade of lavender to fortify this throwback. There was a devil-may-care spirit to everything else they were paired with: lady bug polka-dots; scarfs with their knots styled neatly on the back of the neck; red leather trousers and topcoats; trousers cut long to flout the traditional trousers with generous cuffing round the ankles. And the prints, something that have become markers of Paul Smith design over the years, put us in a holiday mood as palm trees, the ocean and bathers lounging on the beach were splashed over button-down shirts and coats. Given that the designer is known to incorporate the fruits of his personal photography hobby on his garments in the past, who's to say that these aren't from his last getaway?

Dunhill is a brand you'd expect to turn out the classics; a safe bet for they'd probably push the envelope only in the subtleties. Well, Mark Weston hasn't been having any of that since joining two seasons ago. His first look of spring/summer 2019 (a navy-black broken suit) gave us plenty to drink with the jacket's exterior unsullied by buttons and narrow trousers hitting the shoe where the break traditionally shouldn't be — cut with a slit to accommodate footwear. This idea flourished exponentially as soon as the next ensemble came on, the jacket sans buttons in sumptuous leather and an olive green proving impossibly sleek with that nifty trick. Silhouettes were anything but a stick in the mud, with blousons styled half zipped, over a suit jacket in one look, to show off its cut that made sure they folded, crinkled and bulged — gracefully might we add — in both front and rear, bestowing the Dunhill man a rakish flair. Or well, a casual edge, seeing that it's 2018. Speaking of the present, the irony is that a gent's progressive tailoring today harks that of the past, with Weston throwing wide jackets (meant to leave room between the fabric and body when worn) with long vents into the mix here. Married with a narrow trouser fit with that slit-and-flair mentioned above, it's a winning look all round. The rest of it saw fantastic leather work on trenches, long and short, that spoke of Dunhill clout in the men's realm, while the curiosity of a suit jacket layered over another in the same shade exemplified Weston's forward-looking spirit.

The theatricality of a Kenzo show is befitting of its closing slot. Carol Lim and Humberto Leon had us descend down the stairs at 22 Rue Saint-Victor to a shadowy set-up barely illuminated by spotlights, with a maze-like runway accompanied by plants hoisted above our heads. A jazz band plucked us out of Paris and transported us to a boisterous night out on New Orleans' Bourbon Street, the live music cueing the women's looks to open Kenzo's co-ed collection. Tonight's genre: prints on prints on prints in hues that exhausted the colour wheel. Checks were married with snakeskin and in return, polka dots with checks. Lim and Leon played with the long and short of it, pulling mid-thigh tunics over ankle-length lace skirts for instance. If anything, it was a solid lesson in layering. Forty-three looks — and about a minute's live music interlude — later came the men's ensembles. They didn't stray too far from that refined haphazardness of the ladies, though notable were the uber-baggy trousers in both ankle-length and cropped, cut off just under the knee (especially in a paper-thin orange suit and a head-to-toe yellow check look) and so generous in girth and length their drama almost drowned the show's roaring music. Balancing this excess were a couple of déshabillé moments, with body-conscious blouses paired with short shorts (also seen at Prada and Hermès) slotted in. All in all, a bang to end the SS19 men's fashion weeks.

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


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