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Sunday, July 21, 2024

In Paris, White Mountaineering travels back in time, at Officine Générale, simplicity tends towards sophistication

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This season, Paris Fashion Week took up residence on the Left Bank. Fashionistas and tourists in the Latin Quarter crossed paths in a sometimes surprising maelstrom over the weekend at the end of June. The frenetic pace of Fashion Week clashed with the much more languorous pace of strolls along the banks of the Seine or in the Luxembourg Gardens.

The invigorating graphic journey of White Mountainnering

Two worlds in interesting contrast, with children playing in the gardens of the Avenue de l’Observatoire, and Yosuke Aizawa plunging back into childhood for White Mountaineering in the courtyard of the Faculty of Medicine in Paris.

White Mountaineering – Spring-Summer2024 – Menswear – France – Paris – © ImaxTree

The Japanese designer, who has been at the helm of the label combining urban codes and outdoor technicality since 2006, explored new avenues for this very dense Spring/Summer 2024 collection.

The show opened with a jazzy soundtrack, and a group of young men dressed all in black, in keeping with the label’s last Autumn/Winter 2023 show. The look was masterful: a suit in a light fabric with loose, flowing trousers that fell over brodequins with a central zip. Jackets with multiple pockets opened at an angle from the shoulder and were paired with hiking trousers with side pockets that could be transformed into shorts. Technical fabrics are elegantly cut, like this jacket-shorts-trousers ensemble, with consistency across a dozen silhouettes. A T-shirt and the back of a jacket, featured a Delorean DMC-12 (the car from Back to the Future) print. 

White Mountaineering – Spring-Summer2024 – Menswear – France – Paris – © ImaxTree

“I was born in 1977 and I’m a child of the 80s,” explains the designer, who named his show Memories. “In that decade, there was a vision of possibilities for the future, and you could see it in the design, in the products, in the furniture, in the cars. I have these influences from the 80s. Today, design is much more controlled by marketing, with consumer objectives. I’ve mixed past design with the current context. This season I used photos I’d taken to create the prints and then turned them into digital. The mosaic prints are a bit like the remnants of forgotten memories.”

White Mountaineering – Spring-Summer2024 – Menswear – France – Paris – © ImaxTree

This season, the designer has delved deep into his memories to come up with a wide range of prints that play much more than usual with shapes and colours, and bring a dynamism to 2024. Among the most successful are a modern all-over paisley on a silky, ultra-lightweight shirt and trouser ensemble; mosaic prints with different geometric approaches, like a grey and gold gradient, used on urban silhouettes on a shirt, trousers, a sari worn over anthracite trousers and coordinated with socks, and another in bright colours combined with green and beige hiker outfits inspired by the 90s. These graphic prints are enhanced by the Japanese label’s expertise in layering. Camo is also part of the mix, in a fairly classic green, but with colours that seem to have been swept away in the acceleration of time travel, as well as in an invigorating purple-grey combination that goes perfectly with the purple technical jackets made in collaboration with the Wild Things label. Although discreet, the show featured two collaborations; two different shoe models with Vans; and hiking boots with Timberland.

White Mountaineering – Spring-Summer2024 – Menswear – France – Paris – © ImaxTree

This season, Yosuke Aizawa, who is constantly exploring opportunities to incorporate new materials, has developed these breathable, technical jackets using Teijin Frontier’s Solotex material from Japan. For the past three years, the designer has been giving courses in textiles and fashion in Tokyo, and his students have been challenging him. For spring 2024, he has clearly risen to the challenge.

The refined simplicity of Officine Générale

Pierre Mahéo is looking for simplicity. Officine Générale already made that clear last winter, and its designer/founder seems to have taken a liking to the assignment.

Officine Generale – Spring-Summer2024 – Menswear – France – Paris – © ImaxTree

For Spring/Summer 2024, in the sweltering courtyard of the Monnaie de Paris, the French brand has come up with a fluid collection for men and women. There was no extravagance, either in the cuts or the prints, but a chic Parisian universe perfectly deployed.

Even the most rebellious piece in the show, a black leather jacket, was worn by a young dandy. He paired it with elegant mid-thigh length shorts, sunglasses, a black silk scarf and cream sneakers, while carrying a bouquet of dried flowers under his arm.

Officine Generale – Spring-Summer2024 – Menswear – France – Paris – © ImaxTree

Each look incorporated dried flowers, some more visible than others. Either in the pocket of an ultra-fluid navy blue three-quarter length coat, hanging from a wool jumper tied at the neck, in the back pocket of wide grey denim shorts, or even slipped into leg warmers worn with short shorts. The Officine Générale women wore suits with the sleeves removed, or oversized shirts and baggy trousers. Lots of plain colours, a few all-over prints and, above all, fluid materials and a focus on cuts.

Officine Generale – Spring-Summer2024 – Menswear – France – Paris – © ImaxTree

“When you’re looking for simplicity, you have to come up with something different. The aim was to work with new shapes, looser and more supple. There’s this mix between jackets that are almost dinner jackets and elasticated trousers in poplin. We had to come away from expected associations. We had to play with opposites,” explained Pierre Mahéo at the end of the show. We did a lot of work with wools, cottons… brought in cupro, which I hadn’t used before. The interplay of materials was very important. We wanted to work on detail and construction, without adding details, zips or pockets. Instead, we wanted to work on the way they were worn. The desire is for simplicity. The flowers allow you to dress up your silhouette with a little something. It’s not necessary, but it’s important to add finesse.”

Officine Generale – Spring-Summer2024 – Menswear – France – Paris – © ImaxTree

As well as finesse, Officine Générale also slipped in some intense tones for next spring-summer. In addition to its palette of grey and navy, or white and khaki, the collection is enlivened by an intense violet and a coppery orange. For the moment, this in-depth work on chic is paying off for the French label, which is continuing its international development. In autumn, Officine Générale will open its fourth American boutique: a second New York store has been announced on Madison Avenue.

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