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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Paris Men’s Fashion Week: Rick Owens and Givenchy

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There were huge contrasts in styles at Rick Owens and Givenchy by Matthew M. Williams, who both showed in Paris menswear season on Thursday. But, at least the American designers agreed on one thing – men’s fashion is all about tailoring today.
 

Rick Owens: Armageddon chic

Armageddon time at Rick Owens, with colorful smoke bombs exploding and a general sense of foreboding in his latest show and collection, presented Thursday in Paris.

Rick Owens – Spring-Summer2024 – Menswear – Paris – © ImaxTree

The location: the fountain of modernist art museum Palais de Tokyo. The set: four 12-meter-high scaffolding towers from which exploded scores of primary color clouds throughout the show. The theme: joyfulness in the face of our troubled times.
 
“With our world conditions under increasing threat, jubilance seems like the wrong note but maybe it’s the only correct moral response? Beyond being nice to each other, isn’t personal joy what we are put on earth to do,” opined Owens in his program note.

Expressed in a black-as-midnight color palette, uber strict tailoring, led by high-waist and flared flamenco dancer pants, though paired by tops that looked wound and knotted onto the torso. A link-up with the famed Italian fabric maker Bonotto added to heightened professionalism of this spring/summer 2024 collection.
 
His jackets had such grand power shoulders they made 80s Thierry Mugler suits cut for wimps. Though his most ingenious tricks were a leather scarf finished with two gloves and swaddle around the shoulders. Or parkas that morphed into three-meter-long trains 
 

Rick Owens – Spring-Summer2024 – Menswear – Paris – © ImaxTree

An industrial soundtrack emphasizing the darkness of Owens’ vista. Even as a bizarre Marcel Marceau-worthy clown in striped top, yellow boots and umbrella hat acted out an elaborate mime in the front-row. Ending by smoking and drinking red wine from a huge glass chalice, amid the smoke and smell of gunpowder.
 
Owens has long been a cult shoe designer, most recently with Dr Martens. Like his latest ideas – giant DonJoy Maxtrax-style recovery boots for athletes or zany, open-side padded foot boots. As if composed by a high-tech podiatrist for major league soccer star.
 
Post-show, scores of Owenites gathered backstage to swill champagne; from influencer Kyle Kuzma, to Teyana Taylor. All of them dressed in black, and thoroughly delighted with themselves to be members of fashion’s most passionate cult.
 
Given the theme, the location for Rick’s bow was telling – before a monument to France’s fallen dead, which read: “To the volunteers of the Free French forces who died for the honor and liberty of France 18 June 1940 – May 8, 1945.”
 
At its foot, a half-dozen bouquets of fresh – blue violets, white roses and red peonies – all laid freshly. 
 

Givenchy: Cool maneuvers in Les Invalides

 
Before a huge bronze statue of Napoleon looking into Les Invalides, Matthew M. Williams sent out a wickedly tailored, sports-influenced, snazzy display of menswear that was very much his best collection for the house of Givenchy.

Givenchy – Spring-Summer2024 – Menswear – Paris – © ImaxTree

Climaxing with a great series of evening looks, and a brilliantly minimalist version of a cropped Eisenhower, another general who achieved glory in France.

From the artful staging in Les Invalides immense upper floor loggia and cool cast, to the soundtrack – created by Williams himself – and skillful modernist clothes, it all felt very chic. Founder Hubert de Givenchy, a couturier who could be rather grand, would have been happy.
 
Williams is clearly on a learning curve at Givenchy and his ability to harness the house’s significant resources was much in evidence in this show. 
 
The purity of his silhouette impressed from the opening looks – perfectly weighted double-breasted jackets or redingotes made with hidden side seams in super fine wool. All were incredibly spruce. Oversized, with jackets cut short but coats cut long, they managed to be both grand and cool. Plus, his intricately cut waistlines – gathered gracefully or finished with mammoth reverse-pleats – kept many looks fresh.
 
Matthew’s big idea this season was cunningly integrating bum-bags, hiking sacks and backpacks into T-shirt, shirt jackets and tunics. He also tapped into a huge current trend, playing with hunting and military waistcoats and flak jackets, in his case, adding an almost distressed couture twist. 
 
“Bags as garments, I like that concept. Bags and shoes giving silhouettes. So, a tiny bag can pull in something with scale and create a new shape,” he explained, post-show.

Givenchy – Spring-Summer2024 – Menswear – Paris – © ImaxTree

“Throwing something casual over something formal. Playing on modern archetypes, like tech wear and barracudas, but made in different materials and scaled up in interesting ways,” he added. 
 
In his three-year tenure, Williams has made Givenchy menswear into a hot commodity. Underlined by his eclectic front-row and hundreds of screaming fans outside the main gates of the monumental museum. Along with a bunch of buddies and family from back in Illinois, Tyra and Jerry Lorenzo of Fear of God joined a gaggle of pink-haired K-Pop stars in the front-row.
 
Watching the cast march past walls lined with plaques recording the history of noble regiments and fallen heroes. But after this collection, it looks like there is plenty of life left in Williams at Givenchy.

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