Paris fashion week ends, with some surprises

Paris fashion week ended on Sunday, simultaneously closing the autumn winter 2019 men's catwalk season of the Big Four, being New York, London, Milan and Paris.

It was a week of anticipation and debuts, with Hedi Slimane for Celine and Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy showing men's only collections for the first time. There were first season debuts at Berluti and Rochas under creative direction by Kris van Assche and Federico Curradi respectively. And then there were the second outings by Kim Jones for Dior and Virgil Abloh and Louis Vuitton.

It was also a week of surprises, some good, some less so, yet with plenty of fashion ammo to see customers - and retailers - through until the end of the year.

Celine

Paris fashion week ends, with some surprises

It was always going to be a definitive moment, or THE definitive moment of the season: Celine's first dedicated men's wear collection. Satisfyingly, and perhaps unexpectedly, it didn't disappoint. The naysayers from Slimane's SS19 collection, widely critiqued as not being novel enough following his tenure at Saint Laurent, witnessed a new dawn in Slimane's slickly cut tailoring. Tailoring which this season came alive in sumptuous fabrics, looks that were equally louche, mod and smart, but most importantly with a silhouette other than Skinny with a capital S.

Granted, Slimane is partial to a slim cut, but this season the focus lay elsewhere. Multiple pleat trousers, cut or cuffed at the ankle, had a new volume, as if Slimane had let all restrictions go and the rock and roll by night look made way for something more sophisticated and collegiate. Blazers breathed room, but never hulked out over shirts. Slimane would never exaggerate a men's shoulder to the point of absurd.

Outerwear was paramount, and seemingly no luxury spared when choosing fabrics. Overcoats, double and single breasted, checked, speckled, leathered or just in gloriously plain and luscious wools ruled most looks. The skinny ties captured Slimane's penchant for youth, as did the sunglasses, but it was the shoes - posh military boots, tassled loafers and monk shoes that kept it polished, without a sneaker in sight. With every designer hopping on the streetwear wagon, this was the collection that will spark a thousand high street copies next winter.

Rochas

It's official. The overcoat is the must-have item of AW19. Or at least a coat by Rochas, which came in variants of sportive parkas to slouchy gabardine and wool versions, long in length and an array of handsome textiles.

This was a formidable debut by Federico Curradi without needing to scream fashion. Curradi instead offered ample sophistication that trumpeted the quietude. Let's hope it will filter down to the retailers, who need something other than noisy streetwear to make men's wear great again.

Berluti

The house of Berluti began life as a luxury cobbler and has since become a bonafide ready-to-wear label for men. But despite an eight month stretch for incoming designer Kris van Assche to electrify the fashion world with something stunning, this debut simply fell short.

Firstly, it felt disjointed, from the double breasted big shouldered blazers worn with front zipped trousers, to the leather racing trousers, featuring contrast panels with logos and all sorts of unnecessary details. Plus they had elasticated ankles.

This was a styled collection, but one where the (new) codes of the house have yet to be cemented. A slick leather aviator jacket worn over a suit; an aubergine tailored jacket and trouser teamed with a striped pink sweater, complete with matching bag and tassles pinned to the lapel. And logo belts with capital B. Different strokes for different folks.

There were plenty of colour pops in red and pink, but nothing that set this collection on fire. The pointy but square toed shoes in ombre leather were beautifully executed, but, like the rest of van Assche's propositions, will not be to everybody's taste.

Photo credit: Berluti AW19, Celine AW19