Grey power hits Paris men's catwalks
As the four day men's fashion shows in Paris opens, Yamamato surprise audience with older models and androgynous fashion prevails for several designers.
27 June 2008
FRANCE - The four-day men's fashion shows in Paris opened on an unusual note Thursday with Yohji Yamamoto throwing a handful of well over 60-somethings on the catwalk. Known for his independent spirit, the Paris-based Japanese designer launched the spring/summer 2009 show placing his latest creations on the backs of four grey-haired models, one of whom appeared to slightly drag a leg.
Also making an unannounced celebrity appearance in a Yamamoto outfit was British artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen, who picked up a prize at Cannes in May for a film on IRA hunger-striker Bobby Sands.
The surprise of seeing elderly men strut the catwalk at shows where models in recent years have been increasingly young, almost under-aged and under-sized, wowed the fashionistas present, while underlining Yamamoto's sense of clothes fun. Throwing out a line of easy-to-live-in fluid summer suits, the designer lightened up that piece of staple wear with colour patches and drawings of giant scissors, and gave them big pockets for carrying odd bits and pieces such as bottles and newspapers.
While the trend towards androgynous-style male models is waning on the catwalks, according to specialists, some of the designers unveiling collections on the first day of the Paris shows blurred the lines between men's and women's wear.
At Yves Saint-Laurent, for instance, the latest collection is based on the theme of androgyny, with designer Stefano Pilati questioning classical male and female dress codes by using feminine fabrics such as organzas or crepes in his otherwise chic and sobre menswear. "The clothes are all about gender ambiguity," said YSL staff.
A white military-style jacket with officer collar and gold buttons was cut in crepe de Chine and shirts in beige mousseline decorated with silver and pearl embroidery.
Newcomer to the Paris scene, Japanese designer Tatsuko Horikawa and his Julius brand, also blurred the gender line in his debut show. Going for all-black without a spot of colour -- unlike the YSL palette in neutral whites, blues, greys and beige -- the Japanese designer put his very-manly men in biker boots, aviator hats and adventurer-style pants, while adding almost dress-length tunics and see-through shirts.
His models strutted the catwalk with long shawls rolled around their shoulders and veil-like shawls draped over their heads. See-through shirts showed a black band around the chest, almost like a women's bra, and jackets were worn over bare chests with the same black band underneath.
The smaller house of Gaspard Yurkievich, one of the favourites with the trendy Paris set, also opted for a male-female debate. His aim in his latest collection, he said, was "to reintegrate feminine elements in the male wardrobe." The result was a tunic with a bouffant hem over trousers or a series of short jackets with no collars and lots of trim that strangely resembled that womens-wear classic, the little Chanel suit.
By Claire Rosemberg