Men’s – Performa. Rick Owens AW20

Rick Owens‘ show has always been a hot ticket in Paris. But in the last few seasons, his collections are receiving rave, nearly fanatic response. No wonder why – both his menswear and womenswear line-ups take you to another dimension. Tyrone Dylan Susman, Australian jewellery artist, Rick Owens’ studio designer and the brand’s face, opened the show in a one-legged, one-shouldered jumpsuit modeled after one made by Kansai Yamamoto for David Bowie in 1973. But where Yamamoto’s was a vivid pattern drawn from yakuza tattoos and kimonos, Owens’s was drably dun, and in the felty, blanket-like cashmere. Another highlights of this collection, which was all about elevated forms: the “monstrous” shoulders and the huge steel-fronted platforms (they might soon be selling as well in the men’s sector as all the Owens sneakers – if they aren’t already!). The designer talked about “graphics of exposed flesh” carved by his cut-out cashmere layers, and alongside those were the graphics of silhouette. Acidic colors on shearlings and motocross pants, screaming striped prints and hints of cleavage delivered via the deep-V tees so recently beloved by Rick himself were as well the big takeaways from the line-up. “I was a lot more introspective 10 years ago. And, you know, I think as you get older, you just get a little more reckless, more comfortable, more confident, more playful.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Solar Youth. Raf Simons AW20

Raf Simons‘ autumn-winter 2020 collection had a transporting, emotional quality, because the character he envisioned appeared to no longer inhabit our world yet they dressed as though they were trying to wear something of the Earth’s past. Departing at Blade Runner and making other narrative stops along the way, this was Simons venturing beyond his obsession with youth. Emerging from a glowing yellow tunnel into a minimalist yellow venue, some models had their hands  muffs, a rather anachronistic accessory (be sure that it’s coming back to us next winter!).  Positioned front and center, they communicated a crucial piece of information about these people, the “Solar Youth”. If you think this sounds positive, the show notes meant quite the opposite: they don’t want you to know who you are. One theory is that they left the earth as children from our past and awoke as an elite community of our future. This might explain why their attire was at turns elegant, nostalgic, and noir-sci-fi. Silvery high-neck base layers were visible under the impeccable, imposing military-style coats. Sweaters and scarves were juxtaposed with tubular knits that encased the arms. White, red, pistacchio boots (from Simons’ new shoe line, (RUNNER)) a remniscent of a space-suit. Several blazers and collegiate jackets were shielded under clear filmy plastic, creating a refined, corset-like silhouette. The outer-space chic is here.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Emotions. Valentino AW20

FKA Twigs performed live three of her brand new songs during Pierpaolo Piccioli‘s Valentino autumn-winter 2020 collection for men. Cloaked in iridescent Valentino haute couture with her face half-obscured by a crystal fencing mask, Twigs’s emotional and ethereal performance was a lot of competition to put up against the models who were walking past. Of course, nobody cares about the clothes when you’ve got an intimate concert with one of the most intriguing artists of our century in front of you. Still, when you start focusing on the looks, you see right away that this is one of the best men’s line-up coming from Piccioli. Wearing coats and jackets stamped with photo prints or embroideries of flowers are every guy’s new classic, according to Piccioli (and I completely agree with that!). The designer subtly let feminine notions into the evolving men’s wardrobe: Valentino boys carried small cross-body bags, some utility pouches, but others indistinguishable from the mini-bags on chains that have been gendered as female for generations. The closing look was the precise defintion of the designer’s vision of the new man’s style: a softly tailored suit, entirely covered in navy sequins. Incredible. “Men are changing much more quickly in the last two decades because of women”, Pierpaolo summed up.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Fashion Fun. Y/Project AW20

The huge pit packed with orange baloons inside of Y/Project‘s runway had a message: fashion is fun. For the label’s autumn-winter 2020 menswear and pre-fall 2020 womenswear, Glenn Martens wanted to bring on optimism that comes with dressing up. Martens distorts his clothing, amplifying details and suppressing others with a wit and invention that really surprises the eye. This season these distortions included a clash of Elizabethan corsetry against corporate dressing and duvet, winter-sportswear (a collaboration with Canada Goose is coming!). Disemboweled suiting saw strips of satin, sometimes black, sometimes shades of blushy pink, beautifully meshed and promoted to the exterior, a technique carried over into a contoured minidress for women. Martens, as usual, does exciting and far from obvious texture combinations, from mohair knits to heavy velvets. A white lined women’s denim shirt and skirt were mind-bogglingly beaten, twisted, and whipped into what resembled a piece of wearable art. There must be some paranormal force standing behind Glenn’s organic, fluid-like silhouettes.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – There’s Optimism. JW Anderson AW20

For the autumn-winter 2020 season, here’s where you should go for the best coats: JW Anderson. At his name-sake label, Jonathan Anderson offers gorgeous blanket-wrap poncho-like coats, made in a number of variations: classic grey wool, in paisley print, in hounstooth… some come accessorized with heavy gilt chains swathed as belts (the designer also used them as shoe jewelry and as sewn-on half-necklaces). A pictogram of a house on fire, a print that appeared on knits and in the general imagery of the collection, was Anderson’s take on AIDS activist and mixed-media artist David Wojnarowicz, who sprayed these on derelict East Village buildings in 1982. Anderson is known for bringing almost forgotten art to the ambiance of his shows – both for his own label and at Loewe. But this rediscovery struck a deeper chord for the generations protesting against establishment intransigence in the face of apocalyptic crisis. It resonated in Anderson’s remark at the end of the show. Amid the anguish of the AIDS fatalities in the 1980s and 1990s – which Wojnarowicz documented, fought, and eventually succumbed to – “it felt like the end of the world,” the designer observed. “But it wasn’t. As much as some of it’s really heavy, there’s an optimism. There will be a solution.”

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.