It’s back to old ways for men’s fashion week, which kicks off in Paris on Tuesday, with the lifting of the last few pandemic-era restrictions and the surprise return of Celine’s Hedi Slimane, who had previously called official catwalk shows “obsolete”.
Even during previous waves of infection, fashion audiences have never been particularly keen on their makeup being smeared by a mask or their party being restricted by social distancing.
But with the latest restrictions on international travel lifted, several big names are set to return this week, including US designer Tom Browne, known for his creative shows, and Givenchy’s Matthew Williams.
The biggest surprise, however, is the return of Slimane, Celine’s creative director and one of the most influential figures in men’s fashion of the last few decades, who will end the week on Sunday.
One of the key brands within the LVMH Group, Celine last appeared on the official fashion calendar in February 2020, before Slimane dramatically announced that the traditional schedule was “outdated” and “archaic”.
“Nowadays it seems more important to create a sense of event and rarity than an obligatory exercise at a set time,” he told Le Monde at the time, and has since released collections for men and women at his own pace, often with films in shot in luxurious settings across France.
The House did not respond to AFP’s inquiry about his change of heart.
– ‘To cheer’ –
In the run-up to the pandemic, there was a widespread sense that the pace of the fashion calendar was out of control – both physically demanding and environmentally damaging.
But after two years of the pandemic, many wanted to get back into the festive atmosphere surrounding fashion weeks.
“We are very happy to have Celine back,” said Pascal Morand, President of the French Haute Couture and Fashion Federation. “We have no other comment to make but rejoice.”
Meanwhile, in the ongoing debate over gendered shows, Paris finds itself somewhat halfway between London — which has eliminated the division between men’s and women’s shows — and Milan, which has reaffirmed the division for fear of undermining traditionally male-focused ones Brands.
“Paris will be a bit of both,” Morand said.
“The trend towards non-gendered clothing created by streetwear and sportswear is profound and societal – it is long-term.
“But the gap between men and women still makes a lot of sense,” he added, especially as there’s a real sense of “innovation and creativity” in menswear at the moment that warrants its own presentation.
One example is hot-tipped Ami Alexandre Mattiussi, who is expected to present a mixed men’s and women’s show on Thursday.
The studio started out as a trendy men’s brand in Paris, but also made their mark on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, dressing Spanish icon Rossy de Palma and French Sophie Marceau.
Other highlights this week include Marine Serre, making its debut in men’s week and making a name for itself in womenswear with eco-responsible upcycled clothing and innovative shows.
Louis Vuitton is yet to find a successor to Virgil Abloh, who died of cancer in November aged 41, but will unveil a collection created by its staff this week.
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