Men’s – Whimsy. Bode AW20

One of New York’s biggest menswear talents, Emily Bode, charmed the Paris audience with her autumn-winter 2020 line-up. The Education Of Benjamin Bloomstein sounds like a title straight out of a Wes Anderson film; and in aesthetic terms the director and Bode’s designer create similarly winsome worlds. Years before Bloomstein and the designer became friends and collaborators (through his design studio, Green River Project LLC), he had an idiosyncratic upbringing that made him an obvious protagonist for the ongoing Bode narrative. Briefly, as related in the collection text, he attended schools in a former Shaker village and on a biodynamic farm; he wrote poetry and immersed himself in agriculture; and perhaps most pertinent, he figured out how to alter his school clothes so that they would feel more comfortable. In adapting Bloomstein’s memories to her exploration of craft methods and sustainable values, Bode delivered a beautiful and whimsy collection. Her sentimental nods to the past included a quilted jacket and matching mittens that signaled outerwear from pre-duvet times; outfits covered in deadstock souvenir and achievement patches; shirts embroidered with farm animals and vintage athletic jerseys; delicate seed bead ornaments and necklaces strung with hand-blown marbles. Four years into her brand, Emily navigates the trap of historical costume by shaking up how she presents her repurposed and reproduced textiles and trims (be it the equine blankets that were the basis for the opening tailored look or the golden Appenzeller Gurt charms adorning various looks as well as the label’s new line of slip-ons). Big love.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Play. Loewe AW20

At Loewe, things took a fun twist. That gesture of holding something in front of the mirror to see how it looks – we all know it. You could just see it the boys wearing draped lamé dresses fixed to the front of their tailored outfits on the autumn-winter 2020 runway. “I was thinking of ’50s couture—and a child, trying something on. What do you look like in the mirror?”, Jonathan Anderson explained. The two themes which have been running through this menswear season were bound together in one collection: carefree boyhood and the unprecedented presence of ideas about haute couture in menswear. “A fantasy wardrobe,” Anderson called it. “Playful. Optimistic. Pretty boys.” The dresses were a kind of signifying accessory, attached, apron-like, with leather straps. They said a lot about the way Anderson has always worked in the studio, experimenting with garments in free-association. The designer also put guys in coats which had “couture structures, on a woman’s block.” There was a white fit-and-flare shearling, a high-waisted princess-line coat. The zebra-print double-breasted caped silhouette, Anderson imagined, could easily become a superhero look. The childlike-couture perspective (also big at Francesco Risso’s Marni) led him to blow up existing Loewe mini-leather goods’ elephant shapes to become oversized tote-toys, to sprinkle crystal bling on sweaters, dangle diamanté jewelry on black patent boots, to weave a coat-dress from floral-print scarves. Anderson pointed out his own favorite—a shirt appliquéd with a pair of geese. Random and eclectic, don’t care. The point is that everyone, gender-regardless is welcome to pick and choose from what Anderson designs and delivers at Loewe.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Classics. Lemaire AW20

When in doubt, turn to classic. Specifically, Lemaire’s classic. For their men’s autumn-winter 2020 and women’s pre-fall 2020, Christophe Lemaire and Sarah Linh Tran offer a sober take on masculine wardrobe. A coat with wide shoulders, relaxed wool cardigans you might wear on a bare body, over-sized, thick cotton shirts, black leather pants with a loose fit (they also come in  denim). The workwear-inspired jumpsuit, belted at the waist, is probably one of the best pieces I’ve seen this entire season. The entire collection is kept in warm, earthy colour palette that always works. Just perfect.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Organic Forms. GmbH AW20

We wanted to go back much further than just our heritage for our inspiration: to the birth of the universe, basically, when all matter was created.” GmbH’s Serhat Isik and Benjamin Huseby don’t pick one-dimensional inspirations, that’s for sure. They called their autumn-winter 2020 collection Ylem, after a term for the primordial sludge of the universe pre-Big Bang. What they did in the first half of this collection was present coat and pant shapes that had been very laboriously cut not to follow any precedent, the proportions of the human body apart. The shapes they came up with first in seam and drape and then with an interplay of mixed materials were interesting – a warped arm shape was impressive and apparently took three months to achieve. The jewellery, made in collaboration with Panconesi from different mineral stones, were a matching accessory to those organic silhouettes. In the second half of the show, the line-up expanded into colored patches and versions of the mixed link chain print (reminding DNA spirals) that had been monochrome in the first. Silk zodiac prints well addeed up to the scientific-slash-magic mood.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Classico. Junya Watanabe AW20

Junya Watanabe had one word to sum up his show in praise of Italian men: classico. A group of immaculately grizzled dudes, in different ages, not necessarily models, had nonchalantly strolled his runway, most in trilbies and flat caps. Some of them shook hands, back slapped, even talked to each other. Tweeds were implanted with racing car jackets, gold chains flashed at their necks, paisley scarves were tucked into unbuttoned shirts: Watanabe’s eye-catching guys were off for an aperol meet-up or some very Italian business talk. Anyone who spends time in Italy recognizes these sorts of guys. They are in Milan, Parma, Portofino, Torino, Florence, in every Italian town, possessed of an enviable, effortless style. Italian racing cars were also an inspiration for Junya. Retro-revered typefaces were patch-worked into fragments of padded souvenir jackets on tailoring and they came from Pirelli, Brembo, Abarth and many other companies. Practical, affectionate, good-natured, real – the Watanabe men are exactly that.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.