PARIS — It was another hybrid fashion season in Paris, with a mix of live shows — with no audiences — and video presentations, but brands still managed to deftly relay their artistry through the screen.
Retailers expressed enthusiasm for the efforts, and the clothing, sensing an underlying streak of optimism amid the upheaval.
“We typically expect quite a bit of artistry in Paris, and it came through this season, in spades,” noted Justin Berkowitz, men’s fashion director for Bloomingdale’s.
Trends ran the gamut from sturdy outerwear for braving the elements to comfortable knitwear for elegance at home, and new must-haves included dressing gown coats, knit polo shirts and varsity jackets.
“Even if the shows are digital, you can still feel the creativity of the fashion shows even stronger, and pushed further,” said Laurent Coulier, menswear offer and buying director for Galeries Lafayette.
“I think the brands have had longer to anticipate this new way of working under the digital landscape and really understood how to make it work for them and their brand identity,” added Dean Cook, head of men’s wear buying at Browns.
Collections from Dior, Louis Vuitton, Loewe and Dries Van Noten racked up the highest mentions this season.
“Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton and Kim Jones for Dior led Paris Fashion Week with two stellar collections focusing on directional fashion for their customers,” noted Roopal Patel, fashion director of Saks.
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“There was no shortage of pure fashion moments for men to take in,” enthused Joseph Tang, fashion director at Holt Renfrew.
Here, a roundup of reactions from retailers:
Justin Berkowitz, men’s fashion director, Bloomingdale’s:
Favorite collections: Virgil Abloh’s collection for Louis Vuitton packed in a lot of ideas. I was especially interested by the ideas that repositioned western Americana and traditional Ghanian dress, both centered on beautifully draped fabrics, whether a long duster coat or Kente cloth. Officine Générale felt quite sophisticated and strong. Pierre Mahéo continues to impress with his masterful art of styling beautifully crafted, seemingly simple wardrobe pieces in expected ways that feel incredibly right for right now. His pieces will be coveted by many of our customers at Bloomingdale’s who are looking for simple and thoughtful wardrobe updates. Lemaire is always an arty pleasure and this season was no different, with chic volumes and a sophisticated color palette. And finally, both Jonathan Anderson at Eye/Loewe/Nature and Reese Cooper explored different ideas that speak to modes of outdoor and mountain dress that were strong interpretations of our current lives, considering we’re all spending more leisure time in nature. If you’re going to have to be outside in the elements, they showed some very cool ways in which to do so.
Best presentation: It was one of the shows without video that really impressed me this season: the Officine Générale look book, shot in an apartment-like setting. As we’re all spending a little more time thinking about the look of our homes, the interior decor and art collection shown in the location was beautiful. It also inspired me to think quite a bit about what’s going on in my own abode.
Top trends: Two big ideas will translate quite strongly for the Bloomingdale’s customer this season. One is the idea of American icons, revisited for a new future, whether that be through workwear, a varsity jacket or a preppy-inspired sweater. The other is the focus on outdoor concepts and utility, through novel takes on technical pieces, reinvented trousers or novel takes on layering.
Must-have item: The varsity jacket was a standout item among many collections and I loved the variations seen at Louis Vuitton, Reese Cooper and Rhude.
Franck Nauerz, men’s fashion director, Le Bon Marché:
Top trends: Two opposite trends, work from home and desire to head outdoors, linked by the same wish for protective and enveloping clothing. Compared to Milan, the Paris collections had social messages with designers expressing messages of the new generation and facing issues of our times, like social justice, Black Lives Matter, sustainability, ecology, reducing consumption. Desire to dress up after the streetwear movement and lockdowns, with fresh tailoring, soft shoulders and large trousers.
Best presentation: Louis Vuitton for its live show and Kid Super and Casablanca for their video formats.
Laurent Coulier, men’s wear offer and buying director, Galeries Lafayette:
Favorite collections: Dior for the color palette, Dries Van Noten for the new proportions and the prints, which were fewer this season, Hed Mayner for soft and comforting volumes and Loewe for outerwear and knitwear.
Top trends: Loungewear (Hed Mayner, Dries Van Noten, ERL), retro (Wales Bonner, Casablanca), ’90s (Etudes, Gmbh, Vêtements) and new tailoring (Louis Vuitton, Louis Gabriel Nouchi, Gmbh).
Best presentation: Rick Owens’ live show in Venice, a collection full of contrasts; Davi in a typical Parisan brasserie, which we miss a lot right now in Paris; Casablanca’s party; Egon Lab’s video that borrowed codes from horror films to highlight the brand’s genderless wardrobe.
Federica Montelli, head of fashion, La Rinascente:
Favorite collections: Louis Vuitton, Loewe and Jil Sander were my absolute favorites, followed by Dries Van Noten and Dior Homme, as well as Isabel Marant with an easy-in trend collection. Among the younger names: Botter, Rhude and Casablanca with its women launch as an interesting development for the brand.
Best presentation: Louis Vuitton’s presentation was outstanding in terms of storytelling and art-performing, with its inspiration taken from James Baldwin’s “Stranger in the Village” and going forward in the Black Lives Matter narrative. Also interesting was Phipps’ presentation with its sustainability message.
Top trends: The need for timeless and quality pieces coming from traditional tailoring, brought to this new static world and manipulated with a focus on comfort shapes, cozy textures and sustainable practices like patchwork and upcycling. I really appreciated the use of bright and deep colors that demonstrate a positive quest for creativity needed in these difficult times. Lastly, the use of materials and the craftsmanship behind many collections show how much the market is focusing on particular and unique features.
Overall, the top luxury brands have demonstrated their wish to move away from the “pandemic” narrative and reclaim a freer creativity with luxury details and craftsmanship, while the more contemporary brands have tapped into a casual ’90s American-inspired look that is very relatable to the end-customer.
Must-have item: Chunky and cozy knit pieces like cardigans, gilets, roll necks and knit polos; anorak jackets; oversize coats; wide pants — both casual and tailored, most often with an exaggerated cut; relaxed suits; lug-sole boots and booties, sometimes in rubber; accessories, and jewels with foulards.
Suggestions for improvement: Paris Fashion Week is always a source of inspiration for the whole market, and buyers expect to see creativity pushing its boundaries. Given the difficult period we are all living and all of the limitations we have in not being able to see the collections live, the most important aspect of a successful presentation is the ability to connect and create pure engagement in the audience, that is now not only buyers but also the direct public and consumers. Every brand nowadays cannot only concentrate on which type of clothes customers want — and a good display of it in a video — but they need to be clear on their values and ideas in order to create an engaging imaginative world, ultimately being close to the public.
Emmanuel de Bayser, co-owner, The Corner Berlin:
Favorite collections: Dior, Loewe, Rick Owens and Casablanca.
Best presentation: Dior. Kim Jones’ creativity surprises us each season, offering very strong new trends and again a top collaboration. It gives the Dior brand a longterm desirability with our customers.
Top trends: Strong tailoring, comfortable outerwear, prints and colors; trends that are meant to offer for the next fall upbeat and positive answers to a long gray and sad winter lockdown we are experiencing now.
Must-have item: Jackets and boots.
Budgets: We will concentrate on our most desirable brands and increase there.
Ahmet Öcal, buying and merchandising director, Men Merchandise Group, Beymen:
Favorite collections: Dior Homme, Casablanca, Alyx, Paul Smith, Louis Vuitton, Wooyoungmi and Rhude.
Best presentation: Louis Vuitton. Apart from being the winner of the virtual performances of Paris Fashion Week, Virgil Abloh’s FW21 collection has a clear message on diversity, as well as Black Lives Matter subjects.
Top trends: Styling is getting stronger at almost every show, [such as] Y/Project, Casablanca, Louis Vuitton and Dior. Flare pants along with a dressy coat — specifically speaking, oversize, single-breasted car coats were spotted in various fabrics. Earthly tones have been widely used in certain collections, [particularly] Dries Van Noten, Wooyoungmi and Louis Vuitton leading the way in this sense.
Dries Van Noten Men’s, fall 2021 Courtesy of Dries Van Noten
Must-have item: Collab sneakers are back in the game: Rick Owens x Converse and Casablanca x New Balance sneakers; recently debuted Dior boots; Louis Vuitton travel accessories, and Balenciaga x PlayStation 5 Collection.
Budgets: We are cautiously optimistic about our budgets.
Suggestions for improvement: Video presentations helped Paris Men’s Fashion week to be more democratic in terms of being available for everyone, and it gave a chance to many new and emerging brands to show their collections. I support a hybrid model of actual and video shows in the future.
Jian DeLeon, men’s fashion and editorial director, Nordstrom:
Favorite collections: Dior, Dries Van Noten, Wales Bonner, Undercover, Louis Vuitton, 4S Designs.
Best presentation: Louis Vuitton. From the inclusion of Saul Williams, Yasiin Bey and Kai-Isaiah Jamal to the Playlab Inc.-designed set chock full of Mies Van Der Rohe references, Virgil Abloh’s latest collection was a culmination of the avant-garde figures, architectural movements, and social causes that have inspired his career.
Louis Vuitton Men’s, fall 2021 Courtesy of Louis Vuitton
Top trends: Tactile materials on voluminous outerwear, high-end takes on [outdoor] staples like fleece tops and cozy, colorful knitwear that makes lounging look downright luxurious.
Must-have item: I’m torn between Dior’s upscale all-terrain snow boots (as well as the Saddle Bag and trousers that interpret artist Peter Doig’s works into a painterly camouflage), and a collarless zip cardigan from Angelo Urrutia’s latest 4S Designs collection made from a hardy 32-ounce blaze orange mohair bouclé — sort of Chanel meets L.L. Bean in the best way possible.
Bosse Myhr, director of women’s wear and men’s wear, Selfridges:
Favorite collections: Bottega Veneta, Sacai, Rick Owens and Wales Bonner
Best presentation: Martine Rose, Prada, Louis Vuitton. Brands are really embracing the use of different formats. For example the Prada post show Q&A was so great to see and gave such an interesting insight to the collection — this should replace show notes in my opinion! I was also so impressed with Martine Rose, it felt like such an intelligent and well thought out response to the moment and really stood out as one of the most innovative presentations.
Top trends: Tailoring continues to dominate, we are all getting ready to a life post-pandemic when hopefully we will all have a reason to dress up again.
Must-have item: A Prada Coat, a Martine Rose Shirt and some Louis Vuitton sneakers.
Suggestions for improvement: I think there should be more space for more brands to use the platform of virtual fashion week.
Dean Cook, head of men’s wear buying, Browns:
Favorite collections: Prada and Undercover.
Best presentation: Casablanca.
Top trends: A mixture of soft tailoring, belted coats, slouching comfortable layers and performance wear.
Must-have item: Anything from Phipps — the video from the brand was so engaging and a highlight of the weekend, really excited to see more from the collection.
Budgets: We are adjusting budgets across different departments as the men’s wear business at Browns continues to grow. With all seasons, we are looking to our established brands and excited to bring in new partners.
Simon Longland, head of men’s wear, Harrods:
Favorite collections: Dior and Jil Sander both presented exquisite collections of sartorial modernism, clean lines and rich layering. Additionally, Loewe’s display of contrasting textures and expressive colors was enjoyable to see and an optimistic nod to the seasons ahead.
Best presentation: Dior and Louis Vuitton equally produced vastly unique and impressive presentations. Dior’s pared back runway style made room for the pieces to shine, whereas Louis Vuitton took us on a narrative journey that addressed the pivotal moment we are at as an industry through Virgil Abloh’s creative lens.
Top trends: Beautiful statement knitwear was present in every collection, exemplifying the personality and artistic vision of each collection, from bold intarsias to rich textures and high necks.
Must-have item: Dressing-gown coats were everywhere this season, in many iterations and interpretations, from Vuitton’s luxuriously soft cream style to heavier, shearling styles from Loewe — a style we expect will be on everyone’s wish list!
Loewe Men’s, fall 2021 Courtesy of Loewe
Karen Vernet, men’s fashion director and e-business development director, Printemps:
Favorite collections: Louis Vuitton, Dior Men, Jil Sander, Dries Van Noten
Best presentation: Louis Vuitton, Dior Men, Botter, GmBh and Reese Cooper for live shows; Rick Owens, Dior Men, Boramy Viguier, Rick Owens and Phipps for video format.
Top trends: Outerwear is a key theme this season: textured, oversize, tailored and unisex; unisex being a trend both in terms of wardrobe and in the choice of models. Also, layering and thus slim-it tops, shirts and knitwear. Feeling cozy and comfy while being chic is a strong trend, with large and fatigue pants, relaxed tailoring and oversize pieces. We’ve also seen a military inspiration with officer’s jackets as well as utility shirts and jackets. This season, we’ll wear black but mixed with prints and colors such as brown, red, purple, blue, green and some yellow pieces.
General comments on the season: This season seems to promise a new life, after Covid. We’ve learned about some new values such as comfort and freedom of move, and we see it translating in fashion. Looking forward to entering this new era.
Joseph Tang, fashion director, Holt Renfrew:
Favorite collections: Kim Jones’ collection for Dior was another standout spectacle. In collaboration with artist Peter Doig, the collection offered a variety of covetable pieces, most notably the accessories and footwear — the rubber boots and puffed ski boots will be must-buys. Dries Van Noten always plays with shape and form, and this collection reinforced the new wardrobe foundations men will want to wear when we emerge from this pandemic. The enveloping cocoon silhouettes — from the padded over shirts to the fluid trousers — are key items that will lead our men’s consumer into Fall.
Best presentation: The Dior and Louis Vuitton collections were both standout fashion show formats that allowed the intersection of fashion, art, music and culture to shine through without actually being there. Both Berluti and Issey Miyake had enticing videos that brought us behind the scenes for the creative process of the collections, which is something that really resonates with our customers.
Top trends: The soft construction of jackets and the casual ease of dressing continues to be prevalent across the men’s collections in Paris. This isn’t about sweats and Ts though, there is a sophistication to the clothing this season that will inspire men to get dressed up again. Bright and punchy jewel-toned hues in red, yellow, green and blue were seen at Jil Sander, Berluti, Dior and Hermès, and this injection of color will give our customers something to be excited about in contrast to the season’s traditionally neutral color palette.
General comments on the season: While we continue to buy virtually, the enhanced video format of the collections helps add an additional perspective and level of detail that we aren’t able to see over Zoom. While nothing compares to the physical experience of seeing and touching the collections in person, it’s refreshing to see more creative alternatives to the traditional runway format. The men’s collections this season were inspiring and showcased an optimistic reality of what we all will want to wear for fall — there was no shortage of pure fashion moments for men to take in. How we continue to deliver this wardrobing messaging to our customers will be key to driving success when these items hit the stores.
Tyler Franch, vice president and fashion director, Hudson’s Bay:
Favorite collections: Rick Owens, JW Anderson, Alyx, Y/Project, Casablanca, Prada and Dior, who all showed collections that broke the social norms of traditional men’s wear styling and brought fashion fit for anyone.
Best presentation: JW Anderson’s cure to the uncertainty of the future is joyful expression and mood-lifting motifs (must-have radish and butternut squash graphics and hand knit pins). Jonathan also includes a reworked version of his TikTok viral patchwork cardigan famously worn by Harry Styles.
Top trends: It’s interesting to see how wearability is really coming to the forefront of the collections this season. Designers are thinking through the lens of their customer more than ever before. Everyday utility, thermal and lounge sets, tradition meets technology, timeless appeal, purposeful design and great pieces to help you live your life outside like tech jackets, performance pieces and a focus on weatherproofed accessories feels very right and relevant to where this conscious-minded customer will be come fall.
Must-have item: Technical jackets from A-Cold-Wall, handknit sweaters from JW Anderson and Casablanca, Rick Owens x Converse sneakers, robe coats, leather, wide-leg pants, something electric blue or chocolate brown and anything in patchwork.
Rick Owens Men’s, fall 2021 Courtesy of Rick Owens
Damien Paul, head of men’s wear, Matchesfashion:
Favorite collections: It has been fantastic to see so many designers driving creativity in order to show their collections. Standouts were Rick Owens, Loewe and Jil Sander.
Best presentation: Innovation is key and The Light of Black Sunlight by Wales Bonner and Jeano Edwards was an incredibly beautiful way to reveal the threads between the illuminating world of Caribbean Thought and British Intellectualism. The effect of watching the collection presented so beautifully through film layering words by legendary Saint Lucian poet Derek Walcott with soundtrack by Laraaji has never felt more relevant.
Top trends: There’s definitely a sense of comfort juxtaposed with fashion, such as Prada’s bodysuits or the fantastic knitwear at Loewe paired with bondage trousers. There is no denying there is a more casual aesthetic; that said, details are really coming through as key such as the ruffles at Y/Project. While silhouettes may be comfortable, designers are really focusing on how we lift the spirits with fine details and textures. We have seen designers honing their house codes, emphasizing what they do best. There’s a focus on color and texture, and finishing touches are a priority as we continue to see the high low dressing trend continue.
Must-have item: Big fluid coat, a statement boot and chunky knitwear.
Daniel Todd, buying manager, Mr Porter:
Favorite collections: Dries Van Noten for its soft, effortless suiting styles, alongside Loewe’s focus on the works of New York artist Joe Brainard.
Best presentation: Casablanca’s “Grand Prix” presentation was full of color, volume and nostalgia, driving you through the glitz and extremities of Monaco on a race weekend. Watching via a Zoom link did not stop Charaf and his team from bringing the essence of the collection to life.
Top trends: Tonal and earthy color palettes, focus on bold and textured prints, outerwear with volume, relaxed suiting.
Must-have item: Undercover Parka — practical, functional and easy to style. Sure be in high demand.
Roopal Patel, fashion director, Saks:
Favorite collections: Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton, Kim Jones for Dior, Dries van Noten, Isabel Marant, Reese Cooper and Rhude.
Top trends: Top trends include military influences, luxe tailoring, knitwear, checks and plaids, denim and graphic totes. We saw a standout lineup of statement outerwear this season for a whole new coat wardrobe along with sport-luxe styles including hook-ups, parkas and windbreakers.
Best presentation concept: Virgil Abloh’s “Ebonics” collection for Louis Vuitton included a film by Josh Johnson with narrative from Saul Williams and Kai-Isaiah Jamal that was profound, reflective and tapped into the pulse of what is happening in our society today. It is inspiring to see Virgil Abloh dedicate his platform and voice to social justice and equality.
Talent scouting: Reese Cooper’s star continues to rise as his collection grows. He delivered a stellar line-up of both men’s and women’s this season.
Must-have item: Anything from the Dior Men’s collaboration between Kim Jones and artist Peter Doig.
Dior Men’s, fall 2021 Courtesy of Dior
Will Zhang, founder, SND:
Favorite collections: My favorite collection of this season is Dries Van Noten. Because he, as a seasoned designer, always catches the trend of our time. His design is never a cliché.
Best presentation: Lemaire.
Top trends: Pattern knits, loose pants and oversize silhouette.
Must-have item: Knits, loose pants and shirt-shaped jackets.
Budgets: We will increase the budget for outerwear and tops.
Suggestions for improvement: As a buyer, I want to be more involved in the process. Because of COVID-19, we can only order products online. The problem is online ordering is too two-dimensional. We can’t actually see or feel the real products. Even if we have the sample, it is still hard to imagine the whole thing. We did the online ordering for the spring/summer season this year, and what we’ve received was different from our expectations. The size was not accurate enough as well, so it became harder for us to order.
And for designers, I want to see more creativity in designs. Although they improved for this season, it’s obvious that many just copied their hot-selling items from the previous season without creativity and innovation due to the pandemic.
Eric Young, founder, Le Monde de SHC:
Favorite collections: Wales Bonner, Casablanca, Dior Men.
Best presentation: Balenciaga.
Top trends: Utilitarian design, details inspired by diverse cultures, quirky-shaped scarves and statement buttons.
Must-have item: Tailored suits, leather jackets with a minimal touch and anything with decadent textiles.
Budgets: We will move more budget onto brands that have gradually stabilized and performed well in the Chinese market, such as Casablanca; and perhaps some fresh faces like Wales Bonner. We will reduce the number of brands that only have good concepts but lag behind in product quality.
Suggestions for improvement: Street trend designers may bring in good business in China, but there is also a growing number of consumers willing to spend money on subtle and thoughtful designs.
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