Jun 23, 2023
Two designers from Japan, one from China and one from the USA. Paris, truly the world’s fashion capital, confirmed its unrivalled ability to attract the best talent from all over the world on Thursday. Names like Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto, both Paris Fashion Week regulars for years, and the new generation, embodied by Sean Suen and Amiri. They all unveiled their Spring/Summer 2024 collections in Paris, on the third day of the menswear fashion week.
Issey Miyake’s signature technique is the plissé (pleating), which has been showcased at the Paris Decorative Arts Museum. At the opening of the show presenting the Homme Plissé line’s new collection, the Japanese label revealed the manufacturing secrets of the line’s special fabric, unfurling down the runway a long roll of double-sheeted paper, as though coming straight out of a weaving machine.
In the method developed by Issey Miyake, a fully stitched garment, 1.5 times the size of the finished item, is inserted between two paper sheets before going through the machine. Examples of flat garments still to undergo the pleating phase hung from the ceiling of the museum that hosted the show, to make the process clear.
The result of Issey Miyake’s magic method was revealed to the audience by black-clad tailors who came on stage to cut out the paper and remove the finished product from it, a selection of t-shirts and blouses that were immediately donned by the models. Out came a series of laid-back summer looks consisting of tops, tunics, trousers and shorts, all made in lightweight, wrinkle-free plissé fabric.
The pastel colour palette (including mandarin, candy pink and mint green) added freshness to the collection, which featured a good deal of total looks, including headbands and pleated bags in the same hue. The collection comprised all possible variations of the plissé technique, fashioned both vertically and diagonally, with gathers and wider bands, and even simulating a pin-stripe fabric. The clothes can be layered and combined with effortless ease, letting the body move freely.
The second Japanese label showing on Thursday was Yohji Yamamoto. Like last season, the show was staged at the label’s headquarters in the Marais district. Yamamoto presented a highly personal collection, filled with graphic images that gradually became the main theme, impregnating the clothes with a collage of sketches, illustrations, paintings and photographs, like echoes of forgotten memories.
The show opened with a series of dark looks, with lightweight coats, suits, gilets and shirts layered over loose trousers, occasionally letting the tails of a white shirt poke out. The mood was romantic and carefree, underlined by the ubiquitous soft hats and wayward silver dragonflies pinned to the jackets’ lapels.
Graphic images gradually appeared, featured prominently on the front of black or white shirts. A Renaissance woman’s portrait gazed at the audience from the flap of a shirt. Cherubs twirled on a black suit’s fabric, while a series of slapdash Ys, seemingly put through a blender, clustered together at the centre of an overcoat’s back.
The Japanese designer showed his usual flair for quirky garment construction, for example adding multiple shoulder tabs down the length of a jacket’s sleeves. Elsewhere, he stitched fabric strips on to a jacket’s lapels, as though demarcating their borders. He also used large red safety pins, in a punkish twist, to give the illusion of two different pieces of fabric tied together. Similarly, he pretended to shackle up some of the models with large chains around their waist, or with chains fastening a leather choker round their necks, like a slave’s ring.
Collection after collection, Mike Amiri has been adding to his wardrobe, indisputably establishing himself as the USA’s new luxury designer. Judging from the number of guests crowding his shows, and his increasingly sophisticated stage settings, business seems to be buoyant.
For the Spring/Summer 2024, Amiri commandeered part of Paris’s Jardin des Plantes (the city’s royal botanical garden), transporting there a corner of his native California. Palm trees rose into the grey sky, and a friendly bar had pride of place in their shade, its tables scattered across the law while guests lined up at the counter. Waiters came and went, carrying trays heaped with glasses of spritz, a minor faux pas, since spritz is a typically Italian drink. But was it really a gaffe?
The models sauntered up from the end of the garden, which they had to cross to reach the runway. Like thumbnail characters immersed in nature, they gradually revealed their ultra-chic yet informal outfits, oozing inimitable Californian cool. They wore their silk neckerchiefs and cravats unknotted, like a scarf, or swathed around their waist like a cummerbund. Sporting white sneakers, woven raffia caps and a flower on their buttonholes, they showcased Amiri’s deliciously retro style.
A vintage feel emphasised by the array of jacquard cardigans and short-sleeved polos, which Mike Amiri had fun layering over long-sleeved shirts in a variety of patterns. He alternated check ensembles consisting of cute little sport jackets and baggy, ample flared trousers – a nod to the loose outfits favoured by Californian skateboarders – with jacket-and-shorts sets in tweed or fine wool, whose silk lining discreetly peeked out from under the hems.
It was all down to the chromatic combinations, and the artful association of different micro-patterns. Fabric selection lay at the heart of the collection, between state-of-the art research and an artisanal touch, with rare, luxurious fabrics often illuminated by gold thread and crystals.
Sean Suen presented a collection filled with contrasts, juxtaposing black and white as the Yin and Yang of Chinese philosophy. The Beijing-born designer’s show was a romp between night and day, sprinkled with clues referencing Chinese beliefs favoured by Suen, like the good-luck jingly bells cropping up across the whole collection, also in the guise of fake piercings stitched to a T-shirt at chest height.
“I’ve imagined the journey of someone who’s fallen asleep, through the various phases of the sleep cycle, until his awakening. The delicate transition from dream to reality,” Suen told FashionNetwork.com backstage.
The show began at bedtime, with young men in their underwear, white shirt unbuttoned, bare-chested or wearing underpants and leather jacket, about to jump into bed. Initially, the looks were all in virginal white, from oversize suits to crocheted open-work ensembles, but gradually they veered towards black, in satin or shiny leather. Some dared to match knee-high boots with leather underwear decorated with a metallic brooch, for a slightly SM feel. “What is dream, and what is reality?” Suen seemed to be asking his audience.
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