Fashion Show

// A TOUCHING FAREWELL AT KENZO //

When it was announced earlier this month that Carol Lim and Humberto Leon would unveil their last collection for Kenzo in Paris, you knew their show would be memorable. It was, in fact, a true spectacle, complete with models, dancers, musicians, and a soulful performance by Solange Knowles.

Kenzo Takada himself sat front row to watch a collection that paid homage to Japan’s ancestral traditions and its breathtaking coasts. The sea was the main source of inspiration for the designers, who invoked the resilient spirit of sailors and super heroes, on the hunt for their next treasure. Mixing traditional sailing motifs with technical fabrics found in scuba diving, Lim and Leon chose neoprene to craft matching jackets and pants, as well as a wet effect creased jersey. Sheer pieces were printed with mermaids, prawns and sea lilies. Ikat prints, sun-bleached denims and liquid look viscose were used for men and women alike, creating a nice harmony between the two lines. 

The American designers are famous for merging sportswear with sleeker lines and their reinterpretation of suiting was right on trend. Beautiful pastel tones added softness to the most structured styles, and a sense of romance defined the last womenswear looks, which were surprisingly intricate and embellished. A fully embroidered skirt -covered with stunning pearls and sequins- was worn with a simple cropped blouse and colorful sneakers. It was the perfect illustration of what Lim and Leon have always stood for: a sense of fantasy fused with urban pragmatism.


/ Words by Philippe Pourhashemi /

/ Backstage pictures by Merel Hart /


// LUDOVIC DE SAINT SERNIN Men's SS20 BACKSTAGE //

/ Photography by Winter Vandenbrink /


// SWEET LITTLE NOTHINGS AT LUDOVIC DE SAINT SERNIN //

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It only took a few seasons for Ludovic de Saint Sernin to turn into one of Paris’ hottest brands, quite an achievement for someone still in his late 20s. De Saint Sernin’s vision is strong, subversive, humorous and uncompromising. His last show gathered industry insiders who clearly showed their support, such as Rick Owens, Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing and Willy Vanderperre who shot the designer’s last campaign.

Ludovic de Saint Sernin’s work is about intimacy, gender -and above all skin- a dismantling of our society’s archetypes to propose a new and sensitive approach towards men and women alike. If the French designer sees beauty in fragility, he’s also challenging the social norms of conformity and suffocating standardization. His incredibly sensual show underlined a Kunderian lightness of being, which was evidenced by his choice of tactile materials, such as breezy taffeta, silk satin or sheer organza.

De Sernin took on certain codes to reformulate them his way, such as military-inspired styles for instance. A belted nude colored trench was worn as an outfit against bare skin, with a pair of matching leather sandals and nothing else. Reworked cargo pants were tight on the hips and flared at the bottom, hugging every possible curve. He even paired one of those with a nude, asymmetrical bandage top, a nod to the early 1990s. Other references to that era were also clear, from Alexander McQueen’s infamous ‘bumsters’ to Helmut Lang’s exposed nipple tops, but de Saint Sernin offered the ultra low waist pants covered with Swarovski crystals and reworked the classic polo shirt with an erotic cutout.

He also presented his own version of sleek tailoring, focusing on body-conscious suits, which featured no pockets and concealed buttons. Avoiding unnecessary details to underline sharply cut lines is one of the designer’s signatures, borrowing from the sexiness of womenswear to avoid traditional men’s finishes. When a model came out wearing a simple towel wrapped around his waist, it offered an instant breather to a delighted audience. In a fashion landscape filled with logos, celebrity lines and trying way too hard clothes, de Saint Sernin’s reductionist and intelligent approach could be the way forward.

/ Words by Philippe Pourhashemi /

/ Runway pictures by Luca Tombolini /


// A LAIDBACK APPROACH AT HERMÈS //

Véronique Nichanian celebrated her first three decades as Hermès' menswear artistic director last year, and she managed to keep her finger on the pulse with this last collection.

Sensing the modern man's current need for ease, relaxed shapes and simplicity, she loosened the silhouette this time and reduced her color palette, too, sticking to neutral tones with occasional dashes of color. The key item within the collection was the pant, and the French designer paid particular attention to volume and proportion. Most styles were long and baggy, with the exception of a few cropped numbers that looked perfectly appropriate with the brand's new leather sandals.

Nichanian also used prim checks and pajama style stripes -mainly for coats and shirting- to evoke an informal feeling, which gave the collection a holiday vibe. Of course, the French House is all about intricate luxury, and buttersoft leather pants looked as cozy as an old pair of jeans. For the show finale, Nichanian crafted exquisite printed pieces, which looked refined and nonchalant at once. Loose shirts were styled with cropped stripy pants and foulard printed jackets looked slim and elegant. It was smart from Nichanian to refer to the House's unique heritage while keeping the silhouette cool and minimal. The beauty and precision of those prints were enough to win you over.

/ Words by Philippe Pourhashemi /

/ Backstage pictures by Geordie Wood /

/ Runway pictures by Jean-François José /


// SIES MARJAN Men's SS20 BACKSTAGE //


/ Photography by Merel Hart /

www.siesmarjan.com

// A LONGING FOR TRUE BEAUTY AT BERLUTI //

Showcased in the sunny and peaceful Luxembourg Gardens, Berluti’s last collection -designed by Kris Van Assche- was a tribute to timeless beauty and meticulous craftsmanship. The Belgian designer was searching for new and contemporary ways to reinterpret the cherished notion of elegance and his vision came to life seamlessly.

Tailoring was one of the show’s strongest points, as it looked equally great on men and women. Double-breasted, sleeveless, fitted or elongated, the jacket was a key garment within the collection and it gave a reassuring sense of structure from the very first look. Van Assche used tailored lines as a canvas to express a more personal vision of luxury, made modern through his use of embellishment and controlled exuberance. Cropped and colorful bombers were worn over jackets and pants. Dreamy feathers also appeared on sharp-looking suits, while chunky chains adorned sleek city bags.

If formality is a Berluti trademark, Van Assche also wanted to underline a more sensitive and spontaneous approach towards the brand, which was evidenced in his stunning use of color. Seeing orange, purple, chartreuse yellow, bright blues and fuchsia pink on the runway was a feast for the eyes, as it added an uplifting vibe to the brand’s proposal. Garments referring to motorcycle gear gave a dynamic edge to the line-up, and Van Assche kept exploring the boundaries between sporty and dressy. A sleeveless jacket, worn with a baggy pair of shorts and graphic sneakers, propelled the brand into our present time, nicely connecting the speed of the street with the patience of craft.


/ Words by Philippe Pourhashemi /

/ Backstage pictures by Merel Hart /


// A SOFTER TOUCH AT LOUIS VUITTON //

Our world may be getting increasingly fast -and patience may have become the rarest virtue- Virgil Abloh wanted to slow things down at Louis Vuitton this season, and his last show for the House had a meditative and tranquil quality.

Attracted by the power of the flower -as a natural wonder and symbolic expression of change- Abloh focused on a vision of masculinity in motion, giving his silhouette a languid and fluid feel. Pleated, pressed-crease trousers were loose and voluminous, while a mauve shirt in nappa goat leather featured one single oversize pocket, which is all that you need to carry life’s essentials. That generosity also defined Abloh’s outerwear, which was on the roomy side again, and included lightweight parkas and hooded anoraks, as well as military-inspired styles and generous trench coats. Contrived effects are not relevant in menswear right now and the designer fully embraced this longing for ease.

This does not mean, however, that the collection didn’t feature experimental shapes or daring accessories, such as pleated monogram bags or flower-covered totes. Abloh seemed to be referring to the formative years defining the passage from boyhood to manhood, and how clothes play a crucial part within that period. He did offer intricate tailoring, but in vibrant and uninhibited shades -such as fuchsia pink for instance- and innovative technical jerseys, which added a sculptural quality to his suits. 

The idea of blossoming and transformation continued throughout the show and silhouettes became more dramatic, with added luggage and bags carried by the models themselves or hanging on abstract structures hovering around their bodies. Was Abloh evoking the baggage every man carries from puberty to adulthood, or was he referring to his own nomadic lifestyle? The presence of kites on some of these looks indicated that the Vuitton man was, without a doubt, ready for take-off.

/ Words by Philippe Pourhashemi /


// RAW ARTISTRY AT S.R. Studio. LA. CA. //

One of the key highlights of this anniversary edition of Pitti Uomo in Florence, Sterling Ruby’s debut show had the right mix of refinement, primitivism and boldness, with striking use of patchwork, bleaching and printing. Turns out the American artist has been fascinated with clothing since his teenage years and the level of craftsmanship and attention to detail was impressive.

In the 1990s, there were several moments of rapprochement between fashion and art, most famously with Helmut Lang ending on the cover of Artforum in October 1995. Ruby’s show felt like a seminal moment, too, giving his presentation the edge of a performance. There was a nomadic and savage feeling in his silhouette, from prairie-inspired frocks to asymmetrical ponchos, worn with matching loose pants. A fully bleached pink denim ensemble, composed of a shirt and matching jeans, looked sharp and relevant, while woven knits and faux-fur trimmed separates had a naive and innocent charm. 

Rich in textures, colors and contrasting volumes, the collection had real energy, which the audience felt straight away. The American artist will not go for the seasonal format, but it seems that he will return with a second collection at a later stage. He partnered with  SSENSE exclusively and the less intricate pieces are now available online. Ruby also managed to feature strong messages on his clothes, which gave us food for thought. A long, elegant black dress, printed with two burning candles, seemed like a beacon of hope for humanity’s future. This was an accomplished proposal and the clothes were instantly desirable. 


/ Words by Philippe Pourhashemi /

srstudio.com


// YOUTHFUL OPTIMISM AT MSGM //

Celebrating his brand’s 10 th anniversary within the Pitti Uomo schedule, Massimo Giorgetti was in a cheerful and energetic mood, balancing trendy tailoring and fuss-free sportswear with graphic prints and vibrant colors. Not willing to indulge into any kind of retrospective -Giorgetti would rather look forward than dwell on the past- the Rimini- born designer charmed his audience with an upbeat collection that took water as its main inspiration, evoking gorgeous summers outdoors and lazy holidays by the seaside.

Giorgetti surfed on the current wave of early 1990s inspired tailoring, which was a prominent story during the menswear shows seen in Florence. If the collection’s jackets and pants were completely on trend, a MSGM line-up wouldn’t be complete without clashing prints, joyful shades and unexpected combinations. An exclusive bandana motif looked great and refined -wickedly mixed with animal print- and tie-dye effects were strong and alluring. Giorgetti kept the silhouette relaxed and easy, with boxy shirts and roomy shorts.

One of the best things about the brand is that it offers relevant fashion at an accessible price point, and MSGM showcased its new underwear line in the finale, which also a 1990s flavor. There are plenty of MSGM men out there who love individuality and clothes that emphasize self- expression. Now, they will be able to sport the brand inside and out.


/ Words by Philippe Pourhashemi /

www.msgm.it

// URBAN ELEGANCE AT GIVENCHY //

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Clare Waight Keller presented her first full menswear collection in the lush gardens of the Villa Palmieri in Florence and her vision of today’s modern man came to life with ease and confidence.

 Inspired by the nonchalant attitude of French poet Charles Baudelaire -and the sharp style of young Korean men- the British designer focused on reinterpretations of the suit, which turned into a key message within the collection. The first look was a pale blue one worn against bare skin -and underneath a matching 3 button coat- with simple white sneakers, underlining the laid back mood of the presentation. A slouchy, double-breasted jacket worn with loose pants looked fresh and masculine, while tight, high neck tops in contrasting shades also gave the tailoring an interesting twist. Waight Keller playfully combined sportswear classics with more formal shapes, expressing the desires -and contradictions- of contemporary men.

 An exclusive collaboration with Onitsuka Tiger led to brilliantly colored and graphic sneakers, complementing her strong lines and reminding us of our beloved 90s. There were, in fact, nods to The Matrix and Brit Pop mavericks within the show’s styling, which made the collection relevant. The brand’s more evocative and luxurious side became evident in the designer’s use of jacquard coats, rose printed tops, romantic flower prints and silver beads used as embellishment. One can be pragmatic and poetic at once. 

/ Words by Philippe Pourhashemi /

www.givenchy.com 

// UTILITY DELUXE AT SALVATORE FERRAGAMO //

Showing his sleek and precise collection within Florence’s magnificent Piazza della Signoria, Paul Andrew made the wise decision not to compete with its baroque surroundings, opting for elegant and fuss-free clothes instead.

 Andrew had utility garments in mind, albeit elevated with ultra-refined fabrics and beautiful finishes. Work wear and military shapes looked current and stylish, relieving us from the usual sportswear styles and over-embellished tricks. His take on tailoring was confident and desirable, but the attitude was always relaxed. For instance, he paired a distinguished, 3 button pale green suit with casual suede espadrilles and cool sunglasses. The overall mood of the show stuck to this “let’s not try too hard” formula and it definitely paid off.

 Biker detailing complemented sleeveless jackets for men and overalls for women, reminding us of Bryan Ferry’s nonchalant elegance. It was no wonder that Roxy Music’s “Love is the Drug” opened the show, as you could imagine the British singer rocking every piece. Andrew used paper thin lambskin in sensual ways, such as a tight-fitting pair of caramel colored jeans, which were styled with a ribbed, buttoned-up knit top. For women, he also used crochet knitting, nicely avoiding the bohemian trap to turn it into a modern technique.

 Hooded parka jumpsuits were worn by men and women alike, often layered under short lightweight jackets. To make a point that his clothes for the House were timeless, approachable and flattering, Andrew had an amazing casting, spanning several generations, ethnicities and attitudes. His color palette was also enticing, from warm oranges and soft pastels to soothing purples and royal blues. Ferragamo fans will be pleased to know that there are gorgeous -and rather large leather bags- to lust after next season, in striking shades of aubergine, terracotta, green and tan. 

/ Words by Philippe Pourhashemi /

www.ferragamo.com

// ROCK’N’ROLL HEDONISM AT SAINT LAURENT - Men's SS20 //

Anthony Vaccarello was in a sensual and seductive mood with the menswear show he unveiled in Los Angeles last night for the iconic House of Saint Laurent.

There are, in fact, several connections between the brand, Vaccarello himself and the city’s spirit, which brings bohemian nonchalance to mind. The Belgian has been traveling to California on many occasions since his teenage years, and he used a striking beach backdrop to showcase his precise vision of the Saint Laurent man.

Referencing Mick Jagger’s androgynous silhouette and his provocative style in the early 70s, the collection focused on glamorous tailoring, which was sharp but often embellished to give it a fresh and precious feel. While black dominated the color palette, shine and transparency were key within the show, keeping the simplest looks enticing. A double-breasted glitter pinstripe suit looked chic and effortless, while sheer caftans, harem pants and burnoose capes recalled Saint Laurent’s heady Marrakesh period, which was filled with laughter, parties and sumptuous decadence.

The strength of Vaccarello is to take that vision and bring it into modernity. Jackets were paired with tight, cut-off denim shorts, while bombers were covered in sequins, but worn with simple sneakers. A black shrunken waistcoat -embroidered with black beads- was styled over a crystal embellished satin shirt and paired with black skinny jeans. Mingling with the press after the show, Vaccarello confessed he had tried every single piece on and that he couldn’t wait to wear most of it. Now, that’s always a good sign.