Jun 22, 2023
Men’s fashion is returning to a softer elegance, in line with the current trend for quiet luxury, as illustrated by the catwalk shows on the second day of Paris Fashion Week. Walter Van Beirendonck and LGN Louis-Gabriel Nouchi, among others, appear to be moving in this direction this season.
On Wednesday, Walter Van Beirendonck presented a strangely sober collection. Featuring lace-up shoes and high socks, dark suits and ruffled shirts, the lively Flemish designer’s collection was surprising this season. Of course, he still draws on his usual eccentric, non-conformist universe – and this was reflected again this season, however everything seemed calmer. Gone are the flashy colours, making way for monochrome pieces in the traditional menswear palette (white, black, navy and sky blue).
“There’s no particular explanation or influence. I did it because I wanted to, I followed my instincts. This season, I wanted to move away from multicolour, by allowing myself as many two-tone looks as possible”, he confided to us backstage. So the designer began with a series of white outfits punctuated by red details, with occasional flashes of apple green. Then he moved on to black or navy blue with flashes of fluorescent orange, and finally to black and yellow models.
Taking as his starting point new technologies and AI, and his fascination with the legendary lost city of Dawleetoo, Walter Van Beirendonck has built a collection in which languages and eras collide, between futuristic looks and period wear. All mixed with a clear influence from the world of sport, with rugby socks with large stripes, runners’ mini shorts, cyclists’ jerseys that lengthen into tight-fitting dresses and American footballers’ padded shoulder pads, here taking on a more galactic pointed shape.
Red vinyl is used as a pattern in a number of outfits, as well as in protective waistcoats and jackets. At the other end of the spectrum, a number of silhouettes play on transparency, with shirts, jackets and trousers cut from white silk mixed with technical fibres with an embroidered effect. The same candid fabric is used to make large bows around the neck. Elsewhere, strange hieroglyphics, recreating the language of the lost city, were reproduced in abstract motifs, printed on cotton ensembles, while the final silhouettes revealed guru tunics/caftans in hand-painted silk resembling large abstract paintings.
At the end of the show, Walter Van Beirendonck covered all his models with transparent plastic covers on which skeltons were drew on the front, while on the back giant letters formed the brand’s slogan: “Stop terrorizing our world”.
As he does every season, Louis-Gabriel Nouchi drew inspiration from a book to build his collection. For spring-summer 2024, he was inspired by Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man, made popular by the Tom Ford film. The story is about an ageing university professor in Los Angeles who just lost his partner in a car accident and is unable to express his grief in the puritanical America of the 1960s.
The French designer, who likes to question today’s idea of masculinity, also delivered a more discreet collection, abandoning the very sexy side of his previous work. The models, with their reddened eyes and tears beading down their cheeks, wore sober, chic suits. They were worn with shirts and ties. The square, broad-shouldered jackets were slightly fitted at the waist. Several silhouettes were offered in a total look with matching knitwear, shirt and coat, in black, canary yellow and phosphorus blue, but also in immaculate white, “a symbol of mourning and renewal”.
“I tried to translate all the repressed emotions that the character feels. Sensuality, in particular, is barely hinted at,” explains Louis-Gabriel Nouchi. Sensuality is revealed discreetly. For example, the collar of openwork jumpers or T-shirts sometimes widen to the point of exposing the shoulder. Or leather tops are pinched under the arm, causing the top to rise, exposing the models side.
“Several pieces are also different from front to back, with on one side what you can show of yourself in society, and on the other your most hidden feelings. I wanted something very clean, clear and direct,” continues the designer. A sleeveless T-shirt or jacket that looks normal on the front is twisted or crossed at the back.
The designer also evoked a car accident through leather pieces with a dented effect, reminiscent of the damaged bodywork. The last two looks were a shirt and a maxi coat in a silver fabric with a crumpled, metal-like relief, made from a recycled cotton and polyester jacquard. Like this material, most of the fabrics used by Louis-Gabriel Nouchi in this collection, as well as his dyeing processes, have the least impact possible on the environment. The designer has stepped up his commitment to eco-responsibility with sourcing that pays particular attention to the quality and durability of materials. “It has to be part of the creative process now,” he says.
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