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Paris Men’s Fashion Week: Fashion interpreting our new lives

PARIS Men’s Fashion Week has just ended, and Paris Couture Week is about to start. In a changed and changing world, the world’s fashion capitals have had to adjust too. Gone are the runway walks of years past, of applause and pageantry, for all had to make do with fashion films while their audience clapped from their screens. We’re seeing now how three household names in luxury — Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Dior Homme — are interpreting our new lives.

This new Dior man for 2021 is handsome, well-dressed, and artistic. He’s also dressed in a suit with pajama piping because he probably works from home.

Either way, the silhouettes for this year for menswear is decidedly more relaxed, with an enviable slouch in trousers and jackets that make one sigh with relief.

It’s definitely still luxurious: the show opens with a gold-embroidered black cashmere coat, with an accompanying video at the Dior website showing how it was made at the Vermont ateliers in Paris. The look, then, is relaxed bohemian opulence. The coat was inspired by the Rosella, a haute couture dress designed by Marc Bohan (a Dior designer who replaced Yves Saint Laurent, and a designer to icons Princess Grace of Monaco and Sophia Loren).

For this season, Dior’s Creative Director Kim Jones collaborated with Scottish-born, Trinidad-based artist Peter Doig. While a large chunk of the collection is either in neutrals like beige and gray, Mr. Doig’s influences are seen in acid tones like pink and orange, painted with examples from his work in figurative art.

Watch the show here:

The silhouettes of Dior and Hermès are quite similar, down to the slouchy riding pants tucked into boots. But while Dior veers towards bohemian excess, the offerings of Hermès are soberly academic. Its presentation was shot at the Mobilier National in Paris (a cultural office that takes care of state furniture and manages Gobelins and Beauvais). There’s a huge use of tartans and safe taupe this collection, perhaps teasing a trend for this season.

Watch the show here:

We’ve saved the best for last: Louis Vuitton’s Artistic Director Virgil Abloh made a 15-minute fashion film spectacle centered around an art heist. This is by no means exciting or action-packed. Louis Vuitton’s website says, “The performance revolves around the figurative notion of the art heist that is the art world’s theft and re-appropriation of foundations of cultural heritage.”

The film is both a fashion show and a commentary on racial politics. The film is directly influenced by African-American writer James Baldwin’s essay “Stranger in the Village.”

For trends, we spotted the return of a 2000s favorite, the metallic Louis Vuitton Miroir; reflected as well in suits of silver. There are bags shaped like airplanes, a lemon yellow duffel, but also tartans and stripes. That should set you up for this year.

However: what strikes a viewer in the film aren’t quite the clothes, but the performances by rappers Saul Williams, Yasiin Bey (a.k.a. Mos Def), and poet Kai Isaiah Jamal. Saul William takes a walk in the runway with a big black coat with airplanes marking the closures (while other men behind him look decidedly 1960s — dressed in fashions during the rise of the civil rights movement). While he walks, a voice says, “Make space for me… make it up to me.” Later in the video, these words were spoken: “Those who burn, those to the fire, and the countless unnamed.” While the message is timely, does it hinder or help that the message is seen through the lens of luxury fashion? “Stranger in the Village” reads, “The rage of the disesteemed is personally fruitless, but it is also absolutely inevitable: the rage, so generally discounted, so little understood even among the people whose daily bread it is, is one of the things that makes history.”

Watch it here: . — Joseph L. Garcia

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