With Paris finally exiting the lockdown, and Parisians enjoying their city without masks, the international menswear runway season reaches its climax with six days of shows here this week, albeit still within the penumbra of Covid.
After a weekend in London earlier this month bereft of any actual live physical shows; and four days in Milan with just four shows, Paris will stage six actual live runway shows. From the following brands: Hermès, Dior Men, Bluemarble, Officine Générale, Casablanca and LGN Louis-Gabriel Nouchi.
With 73 brands listed on the official calendar of the Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, the organization controlling all runway seasons in Paris, the menswear season debuts on Tuesday at 3.30 p.m. with the critically acclaimed Wales Bonner, a former LVMH Prize winner and one of the most inventive tailors in Europe; before finishing Sunday 7 p.m. with 1017 Alyx 9SM, from designer Matthew Williams who founded the house at 9 St Mark’s Place, in the ever hip Lower East Side.
Moreover, 20 brands will stage presentations with some sort of physical presence, when invited guests can meet designers in showrooms and see clothes on live models.
“In effect, even if we are still dealing with this enormous health crisis, Paris Fashion Week has always managed to hold its line, in terms of presenting important and creative brands and designers. I think many international brands believe if you want to have international impact you need to come to Paris. And that is also true for women’ wear,” said Pascal Morand, executive vice president of the Federation.
Several major houses will again be missing from the Paris menswear calendar: Comme des Garcons, Junya Watanabe, Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent. However, Paris has suffered notably far less seepage than Milan or London.
“Obviously the health crisis has been a great problem, but it led to great innovation. It’s led to every brand creating a presence online with great results. Figures show that Paris is also the digital capital of fashion. Paris has really connected with the digital revolution, which maybe it had not done so much before,” added Morand.
Two other brands featuring menswear – Jacquemus and Off-White – will stage events in between the menswear season and Paris haute couture season, which kicks off on July 5. Via Instagram, Jacquemus has revealed that it will stage an event named La Montagne on July 30, whose collection will be immediately available online; while Off-White plans a Paris show on Sunday, July 4, fittingly for an American designer in Paris.
The Federation recently released a double-header series of eco-initiatives, working with PricewaterhouseCoopers and accredited houses. It is both to calculate how each brand’s show can reduce its environmental impact upstream and to measure the social and environmental impact of actually producing each collection.
“It’s a project we launched pre-Covid in the end of 2019. With people and houses committed to durable economic development. It’s a strict partnership with brands and members. And right now we are in prelaunch phase,” stressed Morand.
The concept is that each brand will respond anonymously to the study and that all the results will be collected to provide an honest answer about the ecological impact of Paris Fashion Week. Results will be released in September, before the next women’s ready-to-wear season which debuts here on Sep. 27.
Looking ahead, Morand predicted that the September season “will be largely physical, naturally with the strictest sanitary measures,” with about 100 brands doing shows and presentations.
This week’s Paris season also marks the first with a new president of the menswear section of the Federation, Elsa Lanzo, the CEO of Rick Owens. The highly influential Californian designer will stage his own show at 12.30 p.m. on Thursday. Like his past couple of seasons, creating a live event with models in Venice – where he now resides – that will be streamed online.
“Yes, we are in Venice, but we are still very much on the Paris menswear calendar. Sanitary measures prevent us from physically showing in Paris, so we will again do a live digital show like before. That way everyone can see it via streaming. There is no public invited, but as we stage it in public spaces in Venice, we expect many Venetians to actually see it. Like last time, people out for a stroll or riding their bicycles on the Lido in the middle of winter were surprised to witness our show. It was actually kind of magical,” recalled Lanzo.
Like Morand, she is firmly convinced of the need to return to a fully live fashion season model.
“We are still in a Covid moment, so even if you don’t have to wear masks on the streets in Paris and the city has opened up, it was last-minute for many houses to stage live shows. However, I am sure that in September there will be an essentially live season. That is what we are planning at Rick Owens. So, I believe if nothing dramatic happens – and who knows about the impact of the Delta variant? – September will be back to normal,” argued Lanzo.
“Fashion weeks are institutions that I firmly believe we are all waiting to go back to. Streaming is fantastic as you connect to many more people, but for buyers, journalists and your own team you need that moment of celebration of a fashion season,” the Rick Owens CEO concluded.
The Federation thanks Godfrey Deeny and invites you to discover all the Fashion Network contents via this link.