I have such a sweet spot for Lemaire. I’ve said it plenty of times, and I will say it again: this is the brand that utterly satisfies me in the context of my personal, day-to-day style. Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran just never disappoint me. For autumn-winter 2022, the designers-slash-life-partners turned to the idea of “traveling somewhere” – something we all fantasize about in our harsh, pandemic reality. The destination was purely imaginary, an Impressionistic landscape painted on a 30-meter backdrop by the playwright, scenographer, and theater director Philippe Quesne. It proved a strong foil for what Lemaire described backstage as a nomadic tribe, and the show notes called “an urban horde of modern-day hunter-gatherers.” “Dressing up is a little bit like traveling,” Christopher mused. “You get dressed up, you go to someone, or you have a destination in mind.” Hence a collection composed of thoughtfully layered pieces that neatly spliced ease, movement, and a sophisticated take on functionality. Softly tailored outerwear in the form of a tobacco trench, a coat that can be worn like a blouson or a gilet, a black overcoat with a white lapel and lining, and an elevated take on the denim jacket looked like they could walk straight off the runway and into the streets of Paris to take on a life of their own. A blouse with a red marbled print – the result of a collaboration with theartisan Frédérique Pelletier – brought a bit of psychedelia to a lineup focused on elevated effortlessness. Discreet luxury is, after all, Lemaire’s home turf. Presenting men’s, women’s, and unisex looks on a diverse cast further underscored the designers’ interest in fashions as worn out in the real world, as opposed to on glossy paper, Lemaire allowed. “We can only do half of the job,” he observed. “The rest is the way people move, how they embody that style, and personality.”
This was one, big, star-studded Ami collection. “We have done two digital shows and now we’re back. It’s a kind of resistance,” said Alexandre Mattiussi backstage at his autumn-winter 2022 fashion show. “We wanted to stay brave – because it feels like [in Paris] we can still go to the restaurants, we can still go to the cinemas and theaters, why would you want to cancel a show?” He chose as his venue Palais Brongniart, the old stock exchange building at Place de la Bourse. Mattiussi had the Métro on his mind. “It’s the only place today in a city where everybody is on top of each other. There’s an old lady, a guy coming out from a party, a guy who is on the way to work, kids, grandmothers, different vibes, different cultures. This is the only place where you don’t have the choice of who you will be seated with,” he observed. “It’s a democratic thing. And Ami is about dressing everyone.” So, in the Ami world, Isabelle Adjani commutes with metro, just like Emily Ratajkowski, and wear clothes that draw heavily on the French wardrobe tropes. Trench coats, shearling aviator jackets, slip dresses, black blazers, and tweedy skirt suits – all the timeless essentials, mainly kept in elegant black (and from time-to-time contrasted with neon colours, which wasn’t that necessary). Meanwhile, the big casting shots continued to ring out: Sage and Paloma Elsesser, Ben Attal (son of Charlotte Gainsbourg), and the most gorgeous Laetitia Casta, all brought charisma to the outing. Isabelle Huppert sat front row, chatting to Catherine Deneuve. That’s a very Parisian collection with a very Parisian crowd.
Hed Mayner’s autumn-winter 2022 collection exists in the space “between despair and ultimate hope“. The Israeli designer explained further: “But I am thinking about the space between you and the garment, layered and protected…you are in a bubble.” Mayner speaks like a poet and he designs like one too, operating instinctively and emotionally, more interested with how a garment will feel on the skin, move about the body, and imprint on a life than how cool it looks or how hype-y it is. It’s this humanity that has garnered Mayner fans across the world, some in fashion and some far outside it, who plug in to the gentle ideas he pushes each season. For the new season, the sloped shoulder is the big story. “It’s not just about a refined jacket,” he said, “it’s about injecting an energy, a vibe.” The vibe here is one of movement – clothes are moving, dripping down off shoulders, pooling around the ankles, or cinching up at the waist, tucking in under heels and into flat buckled shoes. Quilted faux-leather scarves and squares of Liberty fabric are hung around necks or clipped onto lapels and belt loops. In a season of statement outerwear and bold coats, Mayner’s offering will leave a big mark; double-breasted wool styles and clever Macintoshes promise artful protection against the elements. A first foray into prints, done with Liberty fabrics, is a counter to the almost-businessman spirit of his wide blazers. In sensitive pastels, the quilted pants and filmy button-downs look like something “maybe from your grandmother, or something American, even though it’s a British company.” Mayner’s clothing evades provenance like this: based between Tel Aviv and Paris, thinking in a way that’s not really of a place. But it’s certainly of our time. His clothing offers a gentle reprieve from stress and worry. Wouldn’t it be nice, lovely, refreshing to settle into to a Mayner puff of jacket?
Umit Benan, one of the best Milan-based menswear (and not only) designers, focuses on uncompromisingly manufactured and painstakingly designed ultra-luxe clothing. For the autumn-winter 2022 offering, modelled by the always-chic Vogue Hommes fashion editor, Giovanni Dario Laudicina, some of the finest pieces here included a workwear jacket in double cashmere (either in sunflower yellow or olive green) alongside same-fabric raglan overcoats; both were garments whose apparent simplicity, combined with the precious fabric, served to manifest rich sophistication. Stopping at a mustard/camel cashmere hoodie, Benan said: “at the end of day, I don’t want to mess too much with design. The emphasis is on great stuff, stuff that’s so great you want to come back and buy it again.” A loose-legged blue and white herringbone suit in silk/wool shown over another slouchy Bengal stripe underlayer was, in theory, a women’s look. It was also evidence of B+ Umit Benan’s ability to make clothes with a formal architecture appear almost slouchily deformalized. These are garments made for the niche of a niche in a niche – exclusive both in terms of price point and aesthetic. The ultimate investment pieces.
For autumn-winter 2022, Jonathan Anderson embraces all things “weird”, and seems to be aesthetically torn between the 1980s (sparkly party dresses) and now trending, early 2010s “indie sleaze” (metallic lycra jumpsuits). The JW Anderson collection was planned to be shown live in Milan with a late-night after-party. An IRL event would have enhanced and disrupted this season’s menswear week. As Anderson explained in a preview, however, the party element especially was nixed by Omicron restrictions and the live Milan debut has been pushed back until June. During that preview, Anderson used the word “weird” countless times: most often at a point at which he unlocked the thinking that had led to key elements in this collection. It was “weird” how a documentary on Cristiano Ronaldo inspired him to re-engage with “the limits of hyper-masculinity.” This lead to Anderson’s gleeful excavation of the polo shirt – “there is nothing more quintessential”—as a masculine cipher which he then disrupted by variously lengthening it into a hoop-hemmed dress, rendering it in micro-sequin with a vintage “Glamour Bonnet” hair net advert, or reconfiguring it as a high-shorted playsuit. This last look brought back fond back-in-the-day memories. When not watching documentaries “on everything and anything” Anderson spent much of his time weird-scrolling, and the results inflected this collection. The gorgeous eye-graphic dresses had a chin-strokily John Berger inference yet were sparked by a bout of engaging with the world of YouTube make-up tutorials. The menswear tunics peppered with rubber bands and sweaters featuring tubular protrusions that ran from one side of the hem, between the wearer’s legs, and up to the other hem with both pieces designed to generate sound through contact. “A lot of the materials have these odd sounds qualities that are kind of almost sexual… there’s a kind of tension,” he said. These were the by-product of spiraling into ASMR content on TikTok, another “weird” lockdown stop-off. When Anderson detects weirdness, he is not repelled but stimulated: for him “odd” and “bad taste” hold creative opportunity. Allied with his highly refined sense of beauty, the results are unorthodoxly compelling.