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Paris menswear: Fashion goes psychedelic and globe-trotting

France Fashion Etudes Mens FW 23
A model wears a creation as part of the Etudes menswear Fall-Winter 2023-24 collection presented in Paris, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Paris Men’s Fashion Week was in top form Wednesday for its first full day of runway collections that touted a dynamic season showcasing brands such as Dior, Vuitton, Loewe and Givenchy, which have roared back from the pandemic.

Here are some highlights of fall-winter 2023-24 shows:

A TALE OF TWO GIVENCHYS

Guests in unwieldy heels navigated the cobbles to enter the historic Ecole Militaire grounds, passing a giant black “GIVENCHY” sign and guests imbibing ginger shots and detox tea. The purified vibe matched the pared-down white décor.

The collection itself was harder to pin down. It could be described as a tale of two Givenchys.

The first was a display of superb minimalist tailoring that designer Matthew M. Williams said “has a different hand to it” — and was made in collaboration with the house couture atelier.

The second was a tale of being a tad busy: an aesthetic — inspired by an image of painter Lucien Freud throwing a coat over paint-spattered work boots — that dominated the 52-look show with its urban style, haphazard layering, jarring colors and intentionally mismatched garments.

The short burst of monochromatic suits beginning the show introduced a welcome new direction for the house under Williams’ tenure. It was a shame that this theme was not developed more as the display progressed. The suits sported sharp lines, neatly pointed shoulders, and nipped waists that turned the silhouette into an elongated hourglass. They were — the house said — “defiantly unhemmed at the seams.” Black gloves gave these looks a playfully sinister quality.

“The world has a lot of options for everybody,” Williams said. “That’s what’s so beautiful about Givenchy: a brand that makes T-shirts for … young people and then there’s people that want to buy couture tailoring jackets. It hits the whole gamut.”

BLUEMARBLE EXPLORES IDENTITIES

Bluemarble counts actor Timothee Chalamet and singer Justin Bieber among its aficionados. Some amused guests in the front row asked if designer Anthony Alvarez was making a statement with his fall fare about how religiously followed the brand has become.

His eye-popping display inside the American Cathedral was a typical melting pot of streetwear, tailoring and cross-cultural, country-hopping references.

Alvarez, who was born in New York and has Filipino, Spanish, French and Italian roots, uses his several identities as a style touchstone. The brand’s name itself is global, borrowed from an iconic photo of Earth taken in 1972 by the Apollo 17 crew.

Faded blue jeans and bright yellow loafers paid homage to that decade on Wednesday. A huggable gray marled knit featured the brand name emblazoned across it and led the way for myriad shaggy, multicolor retro looks that came across as part-Woodstock, part yeti.

But there were also clever moments, such as the mask motifs that appeared on slouchy sweaters and suggested questions about the nature of true identity.

BIANCA SAUNDERS’ COOL RESTRAINT

A minty fresh vibe permeated Bianca Saunders’ third show in Paris.

It came from a minimalist, often oversized, aesthetic that was able to dart effortlessly between cultures and subtly channeled her British and Jamaican background.

Flashes of color, such as a bright neon blue T-shirt, met an otherwise pared-down collection that was cool precisely because of its restraint.

The first look, a take on a tailored suit, brought in clean, sanitized lines to project minimalism — or what the house says is Saunders “addressing the tension between tradition and modernity.”

Other moments were fun and thoughtful, like an oversized boulder-gray coat worn on a model with bangs that fell over his eyeline.

The Andam Prize-winning Saunders, one of only a handful of women designers in menswear, is a welcome installment on the Paris calendar.

SAINT LAURENT CHANNELS BLACK

The house that redefined women’s fashion with menswear tuxedos in the 1960s lurched the opposite way this season.

Designer Anthony Vaccarello brought the dark, elongated silhouettes of Saint Laurent’s women’s wardrobe to a gender-fluid and aesthetically precise fall men’s display.

Yet the 46-piece-collection, while heavy on black, was sometimes light on new ideas.

Floor-sweeping “Matrix”-style leather coats, with Vaccarello’s signature exaggerated statement shoulders, found their place alongside slicked-back hair and sunglasses, but also tuxedo coats and necks tied in exuberant bows harking to the New Romantics era.

A glossy, black leather bow contrasting with a matte black wool coat was a typical style for the Belgian-born designer, but nonetheless one of the highlights of the show.

The front row was notable, and included French actress Beatrice Dalle, in an oversized tuxedo coat, peering out from under black shades.

Jenna Ortega, the star of Netflix’s hit show “Wednesday” was photographed arriving in a black hooded column gown.

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