Belgian breaks with black at Paris menswear shows

21st January 2011, Comments 0 comments

It's never too clear who buys Walter Van Beirendonck, but there was no denying the originality of his radical new creations on Friday at the ongoing Paris fall-winter menswear shows.

In stark contrast to other designers showing this week in the French capital, the only thing black at the affable bearded Belgian's early afternoon show in a welcoming art gallery in the hip Marais district were the models.

Winding their way through the seated spectators, they strode gracefully in jackets, capes and relaxed trousers in a welcome rainbow of pastel colours, complemented with oxfords in turquoise and orange.

Easily the crowd favourite was a fully-fringed poncho in a riot of colours over a pair of patchwork trousers. "It's hot inside, but you feel at ease in it," the model assigned to wear it, Darouda, told AFP afterwards.

Backstage, Van Bierendonck -- one of the avant-garde Antwerp Six in the 1980s that notably included Dries Van Noten -- acknowledged that his latest work is more positive, tailored and "definitely more peaceful".

One defining factor, he said, was Mayan culture and the end of the current 144,000-day Mayan calender cycle on December 21, 2012 -- hence his T-shirt of choice on Friday that declared: "Something big is coming."

Equally experimental was Brazilian-born Gustavo Lins, alias Gustavolins, who draws on his training as an architect to deconstruct and redefine the traditional rules of tailoring in both men's and women's wear.

The occasional red sweater added a dash of a colour to a soft-shouldered collection otherwise dominated by black and slate gray. In one instance, the full-length overcoat was given the silhouette of a cozy bathrobe.

Falling by the wayside was the notched lapel. Barring the jacket he wore himself at the end of the show, Gustavolins simply excluded it from virtually all of the pieces he sent out, opting for notchless shawl lapels instead.

Tatsuro Horikawa, the brains behind the Julius label, took the 18th-century Left Bank surroundings of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, pumped in some smoke, and sent out a collection that suggested how men could dress in the 23rd century.

Layers were draped over layers, transported by workboots as supple as slippers, giving the show -- set to a percussive soundtrack -- an extra-terrestial feel.

One eye-catching detail was broad silver torques reminiscent of the neck rings favoured by the ancient Celts, though it could take a couple of centuries for such man jewellery to make a sweeping comeback.

Predictably more accessible was Cerutti, which sought to marry fine tailoring with details borrowed from motorcycle outerwear, with padded-knee trousers and three-quarter length coats with leather biker-jacket cuffs.

Over at Agnes B., the crowd-pleaser in a vaguely Edwardian collection spiced with broad half-length ties was a reversible suit jacket -- black and business-like on one side, with a shimmering club-ready print on the other.

© 2011 AFP

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