Fashion

Men in suits storm back into style

Tailored suits make a comeback on the runway

Many had thought it as good as dead, but last week, a most unexpected thing happened on the Paris men's catwalks - the stuffy old suit came back.

In show after show, suits and tailored jackets shook off the toxic baggage of corporate uniformity.

Eclipsed on the catwalks by supposedly more practical street and sportswear, the suit was thought to be going the way of the doublet and pantaloon.

"There is the narrative that tailoring is dead, that the tastes of the youth are completely defined by sportswear - and you do see that on the street," Vogue critic Luke Leitch said.

It was assumed that men no longer wanted to "wear tailoring at work", he added, "because it is not always that comfortable, and that it is associated with their dads".

"(But) suddenly everyone is saying, 'I am reconsidering tailoring. How can we bring it into the future?'"

That includes the biggest streetwear guru of them all, Louis Vuitton's Virgil Abloh, fashion's hottest property at the moment.

The first African-American to lead a major French luxury brand, he sent rappers out in suits and ties in the star-studded show for his Off-White label.

"I am always the streetwear guy," Abloh told reporters, lamenting being stereotyped.

"But in culture, you are supposed to lead."

And that is what top designers like Kim Jones at Dior Homme, Dries Van Noten, Junya Watanabe and Sean Suen have been trying to do with the suit and jacket in Paris.

It is all about making 21st-century tailoring "more now", Jones said.

A master of giving luxury clothes a streetwise edge, the Briton said he wanted to make "Dior's classic black suit a bit cooler and a bit more fashion".

Pop star-oriented Balmain also blinged up the dinner jacket and the classic two-piece, while Givenchy too is dipping a toe into top-end male tailoring.

Even the avant-garde American Rick Owens, the granddaddy of the oversized trend, which has seen men swaddled in vast duvet coats in recent seasons, returned to the fitted jacket fold.

His glam rock collection about the "glory of lust and vice" was sleek, sexy and highly masculine.

Paris men's fashion week finished on Sunday with superstar designer Hedi Slimane - the "sultan of slim" - presenting the first menswear collection for Celine, which has up to now dressed only women.

TIGHT, ULTRA TAILORED

He stayed true to his tight ultra-tailored style, with rake-like male models wearing a panoply of Slimane staples such as 1960s-style English suits with pencil-thin ties, although the show saw him lowering the suit hem, a move away from the pinched jackets now a la mode.

Slimane has always been a true believer in tailoring, as has Kris Van Assche, who showed his first collection for luxury men's outfitters Berluti on Friday after more than a decade at Dior.

He said: "Rather than accepting that all people want to wear is sweatshirts and jeans, I want to claim back the idea of tailoring, a new tailoring, one that talks to young people."

Like Van Assche, Japanese veteran Watanabe used older models for his joyous "Silver Swagger" show, taking inspiration from how middle-aged hipsters can make a suit sing by mixing tightly cut blazers and tweed jackets with turned-up jeans.

Yet, Vogue's Leitch wondered if the trend would change much in the real world. Designers have a "romantic attachment to tailoring", he said.

"It has its own language, and it is a great pleasure to go back and play with the codes."

In a time when a "kid from Albuquerque can get as many likes on Instagram as Dior", Leitch said the street sets the tone for what most of us wear.

Even so, he said Ermenegildo Zegna, "reputedly the world's biggest suit company, turning over billions every year", recently bought Thom Browne, the highly tailored and brilliantly far-out American brand which showed in Paris on Saturday.

"Whatever about who is setting the zeitgeist, the market is there," Leitch said. - AFP

French labels say ‘lingerie rocks’ in age of #MeToo

Fourteen top French lingerie labels staged a huge rock concert-cum-fashion show on Sunday in the city that invented sexy underwear.

Lingerie Rocks, the musical extravaganza in Paris that came right in the middle of the first Paris fashion fortnight of the year, set out to show that in the era of #MeToo, lingerie "was about making women feel good about themselves".

Creations by five rising young designers were also featured in the song-and-dance spectacular, which aimed to showcase what is an almost completely female-dominated industry.

Ms Karine Sfar of the French lingerie federation said women wanted comfort more than anything - whether they wore lingerie for seduction or support.

Sales of push-up bras and G-strings have been on the slide as women go for a more natural feel and look, according to the industry, which has a turnover of nearly €2 billion (S$3 billion) in France.

"All women regardless of their body shape have the right to feel beautiful and feel good about themselves. Lingerie helps you feel at ease," Ms Sfar said.

Sales of French lingerie are growing.

New fabrics, 3D design and rigorous testing on "real women" mean that most garments now "felt like a second skin", Ms Sfar said.

"The aim is that a woman might even forget what she is wearing," she added. - AFP

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