Fashion Review: Paris Fashion Week SS 2017

Text by Adam Lehrer

Paris Fashion Men’s Week was in typical fine form, re-invigorating my own lust for fashion after a dreary Milan and an uneven London. Though the two shows I’m usually most excited for, those by Raf Simons and Gosha Rubchinskiy, already played out in Florence, their absence didn’t deter my attention. That would be mainly because of one man: Demna Gvasalia. Demna introduced Balenciaga’s first menswear show in history. The expectations between that notion, not to mention Vetements being the coolest brand in fashion and all that, were colossal. How did Demna respond to this soul crushing pressure? By creating entirely new menswear silhouettes. He needed not to flash or bedazzle, and instead created new shapes. A new shape in menswear comes along maybe once a decade, and that achievement can’t be downplayed. The hype around this guy is so high that in some ways you want to find things about him to critique: ridiculously expensive DHL t-shirts, all white models, pop stars using his clothes to look alternative, or whatever. But then I see the new Vetements collection and I’m just like, “Fuck.” I want all of it. Though entirely different than what he does at Vetements, Balenciaga had me similarly drooling.

And that wasn’t it. Rick Owens offered a radical showing of near-unwearable pieces that were beautiful and sprinkled with just enough accessibility to keep the buyers happy. Junya Watanabe offered his first show in a few seasons that didn’t generate racist controversy while introducing his knack for near-perfectly constructed everyday workwear. Dries Van Noten offered an incredible show that played out like a celebration of the beauty and art of fabric itself.

But Demna seems to be the designer ushering in a new era of fashion; just like Raf did before him, and Margiela before him, and Rei before him, and Yves before her. We are witnessing a designer reinvent the way hip kids dress. And the thing about the ways in which the hip kids dress is that there will always be the square types to catch on at some point, and next thing you know is that a seismic shift in the way people dress has occurred. Architectural suit shoulders might just be the new skinny trousers.

Balenciaga SS 2017: Architectural Solutions to a New Men’s Wardrobe

Demna Gvasalia asked and answered a series of sartorial questions with the Balenciaga SS 2017 menswear show. Can Balenciaga place as much importance on its menswear as its womenswear? Can menswear, in fact, be haute couture? Are there any new silhouettes waiting to be applied to a men’s wardrobe? And can a sleep Balenciaga collection still be in-line with the punker Eastern European aesthetic of Vetements? Yes, yes, yes, and fuck yes.

Demna Gvasalia is already understanding and re-interpreting the vision of Cristóbol Balenciaga in a way that Alexander Wang never could. The SS 2017 collection started with an unfinished Balenciaga coat that was then altered into an un-fitted, albeit beautifully fitted, tan trench coat. Like Balenciaga, Gvasalia understands that clothes need not to be over-adorned to be valuable. Instead, it’s all about fit and proportions. Clothes really stand out when either chic-ly loose, such as the incredible pleated double-breasted blazers, or skin tight, like the collection’s shirting and double-breasted jackets. As fas as patterning goes, everything here was fairly basic and isn’t far off from a J. Crew suit. But the structures made it revolutionary. All of these garments would need to be specially tailored for the client to achieve that revolutionary banality.

The collection got more “Demna” as it went on: snakeskin boots (dope), leather jackets and coats cut to similar proportions as the suits, cropped bomber jackets with the shoulders blown out, and dad caps. Everything here looked so different than anything I’ve ever seen, while being kind of similar to everything I’ve ever seen. Balenciaga has found its man in Demna Gvasalia, indeed.

Gvasalia is a capital D designer, which is what the brand needed. He has an intimate understanding of Balenciaga’s approach to clothes, but he is individualist enough to still filter his own sensibilities into it. The casting of disheveled Eastern European iconoclasts was as presents at it was at Vetements shows, with Vetements must and burdgeoning zine arist Paul Hameline making an appearance, styled by Lotta Volkova of course.

Balenciaga SS 2017 made we want to both get rich enough to afford, and get skinny enough to wear it. And fashion on this level SHOULD seem exclusive. It SHOULD make us want to work for it. That’s the point: if it feels within grasp than it’s just not really high fashion. In her book Fear and Clothing, culture critic and former NY Times Critical Shopper Cintra Wilson dedicates a passage to the fact that fashion has been at a standstill for some 20 years now; since Margiela came on to the scene really. But Demna, with Vetements and now Balenciaga, is really offering NEW styles of dress. Yes there is some indebtedness to the aforementioned Margiela and certainly to Balenciaga himself, but these are new shapes. And new shapes breed new styles.

Facetasm SS 2017: From Japan to Paris, Hiromichi Ochiai Sticks to his Guns

LVMH-shortlisted Hiromichi Ochiai has been showing his brand Facetasm (pronounced “FASS-e-Ta-sum,” according to the designer) in his home base of Tokyo since 2013. After being acknowledged as one of fashion design’s brightest talents and getting the chance to show in fashion’s conceptual heartland of Paris, you’d think the pressure would be stacked high on the man. But he stuck to his guns with this collection. Facetasm SS 2017 fit well on the Paris schedule, bringing some fresh design ideas to the city putting it along the likes of Vejas, Y Project, Faith Connexion, and other youthful brands reflecting Paris’s newfound status as a centre of radical creativity.

Ochiaii has a tendency to turn a simple product, like a leather jacket or a trench or a bomber, into a piece of clothing you see and can’t leave V-Files or Dover Street without. That was certainly in play here with v-neck kimono shirts that came embroidered with stripes, checkered bomber jackets with floppy collars and accompanying baggy basketball shorts, leather vests that look like gun holsters, and those aforementioned leather jackets with striped sleeves treated to look like they carry years of age. Ochiai’s approach looks odd and discombobulated, but broken down into products it will speak to a wide variety of fashion-crazed customers.

Yohji Yamamoto SS 2017: A Master Finds New Territory in Old Tricks

The thing about the Japanese master Yohi Yammamoto is that he knows exactly who his customers are and delivers the products they want season after season. 40 years into his career, he’s a cult designer (it’s a very large cult, but still). His collections range from good to sublime, but his masterfully crafted and heavily draped workwear jackets and trousers are always there. While certainly not a designer focused on nostalgia, Yohji’s collections present themselves as being removed from time. They are neither modern nor antiquated. The wearer has his look and there is no need to change it according to contemporary standards of beauty.

Yohji’s SS 2017 was one of his sublime collections. The show featured a number of tough looking (as tough as a modern male model could look anyways) guys wearing bandages on their heads, ankles, and wrists. The silhouettes were long but not baggy. They hung off the body enough to draw attention to the garment but not to overshadow the wearer. The trousers were big, and those in cotton looked soft as a Husky puppy. And what made this more than just a collection of good Yohji pieces were the embroidered prints that peppered everything from blazers to overcoats. Souvenir jackets are getting popular again amongst hip crowds, and why not? They are a great and comfortable statement piece that can be bought on Etsy for $80. But Yohji took the souvenir motif and applied it to beautifully constructed trench coats, crafted well enough to outlast any trend. Yohji never begs his customers to buy every piece. He has his Y-3 collection to make the big money. But his eponymous line always just presents his customers with new pieces that they can incorporate to their already well-curated and iconoclastic wardrobe. Those customers could certainly do well with some of these pieces. This was my favorite Yohji show in a long time.

Y Project SS 2017: Badass and Dandy (No Longer Mutually Exclusive States of Being)

Under the late Yohan Serfaty, who started Y Project in 2011, the brand was a little Rick Owens-lite. The problem with presenting a dark, moody, and billowing aesthetic these days is that there is no way you are going to do it better than Rick, and certainly no one will want it more than they want Rick. LVMH-shortlisted designer Glenn Martens understood that when he took over Y Project in 2013 and took the brand in a similarly aggressive but alternatively off-beat direction. Martens makes clothes for men and women that alternate between feminine and harsh, bright and dark, deconstructed and well-tailored. It’s a label of contrasts, and one that is great fun to buy into.

His SS 2017 at some points felt like a celebration of 1960s Havana gangster style: big and well-made suits, sometimes in pink. But a look later and a guy comes down the runway wearing a flower-printed see-through tank-top with the dude’s midriff totally exposed. It takes a lot of panache to wear this stuff, and I think Martens likes it like that. He likes daring his customers, “Put this on, c’mon, don’t be a wuss.” There were of course still looks that others could wear, like the dope elongated-sleeved leather jackets, or the trench coats that can be worn from the front and the back. To say Y Project’s aesthetic is all over the place is totally inaccurate. Instead, it juxtaposes two opposing dominant looks and clashes them together, allowing the wearer to look both alternative and tough while also looking (very) in touch with his feminine side.

Haider Ackermann SS 2017: Every Piece Should Be a Statement Piece

If you like Haider Ackermann you’re going to like Haider Ackermann’s SS 2017 collection. The Argentinean designer has a way to turn even the simplest pieces into a statement. A hoodie and sweats becomes a perfectly fitted and made garment under his design. Also, what’s even more admirable about the guy is that you can always wear his stuff your own way. His shows are more a suggestion of styling than a demand. His bomber jackets look as good with a pair of tight Levi’s as they do his skin-tight pinstriped silk trousers (Kanye showed us that).

Haider’s SS ’17 collection was exuberant. The blazers, skin-tight as per usual, were eye-blindingly bright and printed with some exotic motif. I loved the disco shirts that were tucked in with only the bottom button fastened; one had pink sleeves that fell inches below the model’s wrist. The aforementioned trousers came in every fabric and every imaginable print, more to the point that Haider’s clothes can be worn with denim, leather, or satin bottoms. It depends on the wearer really. There were women’s look in the shows too, that were often much darker than the dandified menswear looks. There is probably some statement in there, but who knows.

It’s also nice to have a fashion designer that makes garments that really pop with flash and style. Being an occasionally broke and mostly bad with money young writer and photographer, when I spring for a piece that I really want I really want it to be something that doesn’t look like it has a cheaper alternative. Haider makes sense for a money splurge. Haider is designing party wear, and thank god for that. While so many of our radical fashion designers are thinking specifically about what we want to wear to our design offices and studios, Haider wants us to dress up to the nines. Someone needs to.

Junya Watanabe SS 2017: No Accusations of Racism to be Made Here

Junya Watanabe has a couple of off seasons that saw him doing things like devoting a collection to African textiles and having all white guys walk in the show. It didn’t help that Watanabe is a salty guy that seems to hold, if not out right resentment towards the press, than a lingering dismay at having to explain himself to them (not even Purple Mag honcho Olivier Zahm could get much out of the designer when he interviewed him a couple years back).

SS 2017 was a rebound then. Instead of appropriating regional cultures, he looked towards the seedy side of sub-cultures (tattoo artists aren’t going to upset about seeing their looks used in a fashion show I would assume). Most of the models in the show were heavily tattooed (or welding fake tattoos when necessary). This could be boring but it looked cool here, and made these rather simple but incredibly well-made pieces a touch bad ass. The opening shirt and shorts combination is the type of outfit I’d want to wear all summer long. Easy to put on and take off while still making a statement. There was a criminality to this collection, mostly owing to the looks of Russian mobsters. This is also not new, or maybe it is? It seems like a look that has already been fetishized over but Junya made it look fantastic. Russian mobsters when naked look incredibly scary, with their all black grey tattoos symbolizing all manner of nefarious activities. But they clean up well (though he is a movie star and all, look at Viggo Mortensen’s character in David Cronenberg’s incredibly underrated Eastern Promises). But the tattoo motif carried over to the clothes here in the form of prints. There was the usual focus on craft and tradition that Junya has made his career with, collaborating with Levi’s on the wide-leg jeans and jackets, John Smedley knits, and Heinrich Dinkelacker shoes. This was definitely the most wearable of the Paris collections, but pushed by a palatable concept that editors and buyers can read into.

Rick Owens SS 2017: Subtle Evolution in Garment-Body Relations

Rick Owens, as always, put on a SS 2017 show worth noting. Rick has so firmly laid out the aesthetic of his brand that he can pervert that aesthetic subtly or not so subtly and use those perversions to slowly progress the identity of the Rick Owens house. How many designers do we see trying to re-invent the wheel every season only to come up with a bunch of overly-designed workwear products that makes no sense in regards to what people like about that brand in the first place? The Rick Owens universe is set in stone but it’s constantly stretching outwards.

SS 2017 started off predominantly in white featuring a series of looks that appeared like unfinished garments falling off the models’ bodies, taking on movements of their own. Aesthetically, imagine if Varys from Game of Thrones got really fit and managed to find a way for his clothes to dance behind him as he walked. It was hard to even single out individual pieces because they all blended into one hard-to-define look. Big trousers were a theme, and continued to be as the collection progressed and mutated in color. The light wool coach jackets came in brown, a faint shade of orange, mustard yellow and mustard yellow. Then there were some more recognizably Owens pieces: skin-tight leather jacket (one covered in jewel studs), a bomber jacket with fur trim, asymmetrical blazers, and a cut-off trench coat. Most of the jackets were cropped extremely high to the waist, allowing the massive trousers to stand out as the statements pieces of the looks. There was excellent use of prints, such as the cut-off sleeve kimono with a geometrical landscape printed in white to both lapels.

It’s hard to tell if some of the looks in this collection were a result of genius styling or fascinating design, such as the pieces that looked almost like t-shirts wrapped around the model’s body at various limbs. But either styling or design, this was another fascinating Rick Owens show. No designer on Earth is better re-defining the intricacies between the human body and its clothes.

Off-White SS 2017: Virgil Abloh Offers an Inclusive Alternative to Fashion Exclusivity

People have wanted to write off Virgil Abloh as a t-shirt designer from the moment he started Off-White. After designing an incredibly limited edition collection for Levi’s Made and Crafted and a Resort 2017 collection, no one can argue that this man has a grand and wide fashion vision for his Off-White label. But Abloh’s greatest strength is his fandom. He comes at garment design from the perspective of a fashion, music, and culture crazed kid that can’t believe the good fortune he’s met at being able to create his own brand. That exuberance was as infectious as ever at his SS 2017 show.  

The jeans and t-shirt look is still the foundation of Off-White, but Abloh more every season seems to make clear that the sartorial possibilities birthed from that conceptual starting point are endless. From Oasis graphics to see through t-shirts, short-sleeve baggy knits with provocative prints, to loose fitting jackets, Abloh has greatly improved the actual design strengths of his collection. But he also has grander conceptual vision, such as allowing fashion kids into his shows without invites and providing attendees with disposable cameras to give different photographic perspectives on his designs. The turn out for the show was incredible; aside from his usual crew (Luka Sabbat, etc), motherfucking Demna Gvasalia showed up to show Virgil support. Virgil needs to start being referred to as “fashion designer Virgil Abloh” and not “Kanye West’s best friend and creative director Virgil Abloh.”

Louis Vuitton SS 2017: After Years of Looking Abroad, Kim Jones Brings it Back Home

Kim Jones, sometimes referred to as the world’s greatest menswear designer, has looked all over the globe for styles to appropriate at Louis Vuitton. But for SS 2017, he fondly remembers the styles that have most defined him: the African textiles of his homeland, the punk memorabilia he collected by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren while living in London, and the high luxury of his adopted homeland of Paris.

The punk looks worked the best: if I was rich as fuck there is no way I wouldn’t want to spend $3,000 on an ultra-aggressive looking dog collar? There’s no better way to celebrate newfound wealth than with an accessory that says to your boss, “I’m not afraid of you bub, in fact: I’m coming for you.”

Everything Kim does at Louis just looks like clothes that you need to have, and this collection followed in that vein. Even a plaid crewneck looks so perfectly fitted that to not spend $1,000 on it feels like you are depriving yourself. The Sherpa crewnecks, dyed heavily in the prints of African textiles, were showstoppers. Paired with easygoing trousers, they were easily the most “I must have that” garments of Paris Fashion Week. I think that’s the beauty of Vuitton. It is the ultimate example of fashion consumerism, but helmed by a designer like Kim Jones (or Nicolas Ghesqiuere, for that matter), you find yourself sacrificing all of your socialist ideals and just giving into the temptation. True luxury should make you want to abandon your morals and be a part of the ugly machine. Louis Vuitton under Kim Jones goes way beyond a bag with a logo that says nothing about who you are. Not all the pieces are that easy, but they are so incredibly made that you find yourself disregarding that ugly history of fashion oppression. Let greed free you.

Dries Van Noten SS 2017: No One Really Gets Dries, But Everyone Wants to Wear Dries

Dries Van Noten’s FW 2016 menswear collection was a highpoint in his career: an explosive celebration of fashion’s relationship to the psychedelic prints of the 1960s. It was a hard show to top, and though SS 2017 didn’t, it came damn close. This show felt more like a celebration of the possibilities within fabrics themselves. Dries admitted to looking at the textile artists of the ’60s for this collection, finding new ways to drape garments as well as play with volume and proportion. That resulted in something as simple as a mock neck sweater in white looking transcendent: just baggy enough in the body to let the model breathe while the neck looking slightly disheveled and treated. But the textile explorations also worked towards incredible print and dye work. A tank top and shorts looked as close to a landscape painting as fashion gets. It was willfully experimental, but no one would look that weird wearing such an ensemble to the beach.

As always, Dries’ coats were next level, with fabric weaves and lines constructing from a myriad of different directions and concepts. The clothes looked expensive, which is always nice considering they are in fact really fucking expensive. But I’d say the real showstopper here was the knitwear, which looked like it had been weaved by a master from another era just hours before the show: colors and fabrics hanging loose from the seams both finished and unfinished simultaneously. When you look at Antwerp’s other most relevant and long-lasting designer (no shade towards Walter van Bierendonck, but he is starting to feel more kitsch as he gets older) Raf Simons, you see that Dries has gone in another direction that puts the two Royal Academy-trained designers at odds with one another. While Raf is consistently questioning fashion’s purpose and finding revelatory possibilities within fashion as a medium season after season (and making fire clothes all the while), Dries is still infatuated with the beauty wrought from the experimentation of fabric construction and garment design. There is a case to be made for both approaches in regards to what fashion needs right now.

Some Brands Need no Show

Plenty of fashion designers in Paris opted for buyer presentations over shows but nevertheless presented some incredible collections. Takahiro Miyashita, for instance, presented his best collection since leaving Number (N)ine and starting The Soloist, which charted the sartorial evolution of David Bowie but took all Bowie’s looks to the extreme. Phillip Lim’s SS 2017 collection wasn’t pushing any style ideas forward, but he did pretty much sum up exactly how I like to dress in the summer with cool denim pulled up high over perfectly fit short sleeve button downs. And former Balmain creative director Christophe Decarnin’s Faith Connexion is a revelation. With everyone looking tasteful and draped these days (post-Vetements world and all), there is something wonderful about a brand willing to put opulent trash back on the pedestal. With men’s and women’s looks in the show, Decarnin celebrated a kind of stylish ridiculousness that was tempered by a punk edge before veering back into golden Nutcracker absurdity Balmain territory.

[FASHION REVIEW] Paris Ready-To-Wear Collections 2016

Text by Adam Lehrer

Demna Gvasalia is the newly minted king of Paris. Showing FW 2016 collections for both Vetements and his first ever for Balenciaga, Gvasalia proved that he has a concrete vision for how he thinks people should dress. At Balenciaga, he has already impressed his vision upon the house in a manner that Alexander Wang never was able to. Why is that? Most likely this is because Demna understands desirability of products, turning something as standard as a denim jacket into a contorted silhouette that looks totally unique. Wang is a marketer and a brand builder, but seldom do people hunger for his products the way that the fashion crowds have been hungering for the designs of Demna. Kering deserves wild applause for the hiring of the Vetements chief; it was a truly inspired and modern decision for a brand that saw its visibility wane under its previous creative director.

Other big stories were Dior and Lanvin that had to show their FW 2016 collections sans creative directors after the departures of Raf Simons and Alber Elbaz, respectively. Dior did ok, with its atelier coming through with a collection that at least looked like a Dior collection, though without the distinct ideas of Raf. Still though, I think I prefer it like this, considering Raf’s Raf Simons FW 2016 menswear collection was his best in seasons and I need cash flow so I can buy all of it. Elbaz was sorely missed from the schedule, and Lanvin fell absolutely flat without the man’s subtly poetic designs. If Lanvin doesn’t want him though, they should really start courting Haider Ackermann. His vision of fashion and his ideal customer is perfectly in line with the house.

Elsewhere, it was Paris as usual. The good stuff was great, the boring stuff was boring, there were Kardashians and Kanye, and Faith Connexion proved itself to be the newly buzzed about design team with a line of vintage grungewear taken to the highest degree of luxury (personally, I have no desire to buy my huge flannel shirts anywhere other than my local thrift, but I can see the appeal).


I already knew that Demna Gvasalia was a perfect choice for Balenciaga for no other reason than that he is the most talked-about designer in Paris right now. But I could not have anticipated how well Demna was able to bend Balenciaga to his will. The avant-garde shaped denim, the gigantic double-breasted trench coats, and other Vetements favorites all were jacked up to Balenciaga quality for the magnificent FW 2016 Balenciaga. With Demna asking, “How do you persuade a woman to wear a two-piece suit who is not the German chancellor?” He answered by exaggerating proportion and silhouette thereby infusing luxury with a simultaneously more relaxed and striking visual appeal. Demna clearly had fun with the variety of fabrics now available to him as head of the house, making abstract sculptures out of puffer jackets, slicing shearling coats in half and reattaching them at odd angles, doing the same with a biker jacket (the best leather jacket of this season), and then allowing floral boho dresses to wave their freak flags. Best collection of the week; modernity incarnate.


Jun Takahashi is probably still thought of as a menswear designer first, and Undercover a menswear brand. But the past few Undercover womenswear collections have been excellent, and this was a pinnacle. Setting the FW 2016 shows to Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day,’ Takahashi sought to make “relaxed wear for all ages.” To Takahashi, relaxed wear meant the obvious in print sweatshirts and relaxed trousers to the completely fucking bonkers in a gold printed dress with a wide-as-fuck skirt. Indulging his avant-garde whimsy, Takahashi also sent much of his models down the runways with headpieces that looked like the set design of Carcosa in True Detective’s first season (i.e. good season). I love how Takahashi is able to delineate between spectacle and products. He certainly has a flair for showmanship, but the indulgent demonstration never distracts from the desirability of the clothes. He’s the rare designer who is equal parts artist and product manager, trés Japanese indeed.


I wasn’t as into this Vetements show as much as I was the Balenciaga show, but Demna Gvasalia’s design collective is at peak undeniability at this point. The brand’s superbly shaped oversized print hoodies were the most recognizable pieces on the streets this season, and the brand has certainly won over the fashion crowd in a way that seems more genuine than in past cases when something like the HBA logo was all over the place. Why is that? I’m not sure, but I think it’s because Vetements speaks to the modern fashion buyer more than other buzzy labels. You aren’t just buying into a logo; you’re buying a piece of creativity. Fashion is in a weird place now because everyone is making less money these days than they were 15 years ago. So, the women and men who get good paying jobs are probably too responsible and rational thinking to even consider buying a $700 hoodie. The fashion obsessives are mostly young artists and creative types; kids that can’t afford to buy everything but are style-obsessed enough to buy a product that they believe will make them look cool as fuck. Let’s face it: Vetements products do indeed look cool as fuck. Though I didn’t love FW 2016 as much as the previous two seasons, this stuff was still mostly amazing. Especially exciting was the menswear actually cut for men, such as the oversized western rodeo shirt and matching pants (I want one), the gold velvet unstructured suit, and a belted trench coat in camel. Demna incorporated some bondage looks into the womenswear, with a fantastic skin tight black leather jumpsuit and bombers with attached hanging chains that sort of collided into one another. There were riffs on Hot Topic outfits that looked awesome: punk, metal, rave, goth, and more. Demna is a connoisseur of all the disaffected youth cultures. The collection was shown in a church, because Demna said he was in a “dark place” designing this collection (maybe the prints reading “Sexual Fantasies were the reason for this, but I imagine the newly minted creative director of Balenciaga can’t be having much trouble getting laid regardless of preference). If that’s true, is it awful that I hope Demna stays in this dark place?

Side note: Veronique Hyland of The Cut pointed out the casting problems of the Vetements show. She is right; a brand that prides itself on being revolutionary should be casting diverse models. I don’t buy the excuse that they are casting friends of the label; surely they could find some non-white people to join their army. That is the same excuse Raf Simons used in his earlier collections, that he was casting the street-punk Antwerp youths that inspired him. But in his wiser age, his shows have grown more diverse and they have only made his brand more desirable. Kanye West and Rihanna are partly responsible for putting Vetements on the map. Diversify the cast and Vetements will undeniably be the coolest high fashion brand on the planet.

Noir Kei Ninomiya

I’ve been trying to limit my roundups to one Comme des Garcons-affiliated brand. And though Rei Kawakubo’s acid warped Victorian gowns were some fascinating art works and Chitose Abe’s Sacai collection had some decadent ornamentation, it was Kawakubo disciple Kei Ninomiya that I felt best exemplified his particular fashion philosophy with his Noir FW 2016 collection. Using all black of course, he had six models change outfits numerous times in an open space utterly devoid of any noise. Ninomiya is an expert at using details to convert wardrobe staples into avant-garde rebel statements: biker jackets, summer dresses, jacket and trousers, and Macintosh coats were all prominently featured in the collection, but appeared brutal, sharp, and unignorable. Ninomiya left his studies at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts to be a patternmaker for Kawakubo, and Kawakubo’s influence is undeniable. However, Ninomiya is still concerned with building a brand and innovating products that customers still want to wear. Now that Kawakubo has more or less made Comme des Garcons womenswear shows a display for pure creation while selling more conventional products to build revenue, it is Ninomiya that is best balancing concept and retail. He is constantly shifting form and structure, but these clothes would also look undeniably great day-to-day.


Of the big luxury houses, I think Givenchy is definitely my favorite. I loved Lanvin, but they are without a creative director. Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent Paris has been fun to watch him re-brand the label, but I am still irked by the idea of Saint Laurent selling cut-off denim skirts. Raf left Dior and Kris Van Assche has never really cut it for me on the menswear side of things. So there’s Givenchy, a label that is now as much the brainchild of creative director Ricardo Tisci as it is the brand’s founder Hubert de Givenchy. Yes, I’m arguing that Tisci is as important to Givenchy’s history as Givenchy himself.

At the time of Tisci’s appointment in 2005, the label was floundering. Alexander McQueen’s tenure as creative director didn’t work and Julien Macdonald’s was poorly received. Tisci made Givenchy culture-relevant again, noting the brand’s importance to a multi-cultural audience. He has a specific taste, and that taste has resonated with everyone from Park Avenue women to hypebeasts (those Air Force Ones he did were fucking uggo though, no? doesn’t matter).

Though it will be hard to forget the dark but soft romantic flourishes of Givenchy’s SS 2016 show that took place in New York last summer, the FW 2016 show back in Paris gave it a run for its money. Tisci’s last show was extremely tasteful, with soft fabrics, minimal details, and utter commitment to craftsmanship and quality of materials. FW 2016 feels more opulent, but was actually expressing Tisci’s newfound interest in Egyptian mysticism. The curiosity resulted in wild psychedelic prints, like mandala-decorated blouses and dresses that were not all that unlike Anne Spalter’s recent exhibit at Spring Break Art Show. There were the usual streetwear looks, but also extreme experiments in military tailoring with coats that outlined every sinew in the models’ bodies. Tisci doesn’t shy away from opulence, but he also doesn’t exploit it. What can I say? I’m a fan.

Ann Demeulemeester

Few designers have stayed as committed to their truest design visions as Ann Demeulemeester. So when Ann retired two years ago, it was hard to imagine her brand remaining relevant, and yet her protégé Sebastien Meunier has been so good as her successor that it doesn’t even feel like she ever left. Some would say that Meunier doesn’t have a vision of his own, but I tend to believe that Meunier is just a kindred spirit. Romanticism was the key word for his FW 2016 collection. But as opposed to the elation of romance, Meunier focused on the pain of love, emphasized by a raucous soundtrack of Swans’ ‘Screen Shot’ (is it just me or does it seem like Swans is becoming a fashion show staple? Yang Li and Siki Im have used the apocalyptic boogie of Michael Gira in recent shows as well) and a cover of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ as well as a reminder of the brand’s unique relationship to rare fabrics. The clothes were mostly black, and largely devoid of skirting, instead opting for Meunier’s singular approach to trousers. The best look in the collection was a three-piece suit, patterned in black and white with the sleeves of the jacket running well past fingertips and the trousers sitting up at the calves. For some reason I thought of the buzzy but decidedly excellent UK-based post-punk band Savages while looking at this collection, or perhaps just thought it would be amazing to see the band dress in these clothes.

Rick Owens 

We might as well just give Rick his own column because the man never ever disappoints. FW 2016 was different than his last three years or so of collections. There were no grandiose displays of showmanship. There were no black sorority line dancers, European metal bands, models wearing models, or cocks. There were structure, lines, silhouette, and virtuosic displays of draping. We all know that Rick is a master pattern cutter, but his products have more or less stayed the same for years. He has created so many garments that he could live off them for centuries. But Rick has been thinking about wastefulness. How can he infuse a product with enough of himself that people would never want to let it go? He did so by draping every garment until they were contorted into wonderful pieces or architecture. So even though the garments are going to be recreated, they will be done so with the exact lines cut by Rick himself. Who would ever throw away a piece of clothing that Rick had his hands on? Exactly.


It must be weird for fashion editors that have been doing this thing for decades. That means they have been writing about Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel collections since 1982. It’s hard to find new ways to write about the brand, let alone for the 82-year-old Lagerfeld to come up with new ideas. And yet new ideas he comes up with indeed: airports, casinos, supermarkets, art fairs, Zen gardens and more are all recent Lagerfeld dreams made Chanel realities. Perhaps a little exhausted by the pressure to consistently come up with the world’s biggest fashion show, Lagerfeld focused on the clothes for Chanel FW 2016, 93 looks worth of clothes. Classic Chanel going on here, with feminine elegance as in the selection of pink dresses and delicate masculinity with Lagerfeld’s eternal takes on Coco Chanel’s power suits.

Dries Van Noten

Dries Van Notes has one of the most vibrant imaginations in fashion. He always has a specific story in mind, and fiction or non-fiction, he vividly bring those stories to life in garments. For FW 2016, his imagination swayed towards the love affair between early 20th Century poet, journalist, playwright, and World War 1 soldier Gabriele D’Annunzio and Italian heiress, muse, and patroness of the arts Luisa Casati. And despite this very succinct explanation, Dries still manages to never over-indulge his ideas in any way that would result in his collections coming off as kitsch. Casati’s pet leapords were exemplified by leapord prints scarves, trousers, and over-coats, but they looked smart and clean. As did the rest of the collection, with pin-striped jump suits, brown polka dot blazers clinging to the hips military-style, and a dragon-printed black dress. Dries is an artist, but he isn’t Leigh Bowery. He manages to find the art in fashion design while not allowing the art to rule over the need to make beautiful products that will be worn by his worldly and sophisticated customers. Between this and his FW 2016 menswear collection, it appears that Dries is back at the top of his game. God Bless Belgium.

Louis Vuitton

Unlike Ricardo Tisci who has utterly re-defined Givenchy, Nicolas Ghesquire works within a Louis Vuitton code but has re-interpreted it into his forward-leaning futurist vision. Ghesquiere’s Lou V collections keep getting better too. His SS 2016 collection was my favorite that he had done at the house so far, but FW 2016 is even better. His penchant for futurism was indulged here to the max with Louis Vuitton quality sportswear defining the collection. The mesh color-blocked jumpsuit and dress were the most adventurous pieces of this collection, and possibly of Ghesquiere’s tenure at Louis Vuitton. They absolutely worked too, and it was hard not to imagine Ghesquiere muses like Grimes and K-Pop star (and undeniable smoking hot beauty) CL wearing them. Ghesquiere has not steered Louis Vuitton away from luxury, he has modernized conceptions of luxury. Instead of just designing clothes for massively wealthy French women, he seems to very much revere the success of millennial artists. Bjork could totally wear this.

Also Good:

Virgil Abloh is nothing if not self-aware of the prejudices that define the fashion industry and the people carrying those prejudices trying to hold him back. And yet, he has emerged as an undeniably fresh talent with a voice that the fashion industry desperately needs. His Off-White FW 2016 collection used a custom-made neon sign quoting the rude salesclerk in ‘Pretty Woman:’ “You’re obviously in the wrong place.” As a result, Abloh makes his own place, mixing streetwear and conceptual garments into a definable whole. Iris Van Herpen proved that fashion can be surreal by staging a truly remarkable show with models performing in front of optical light screens that acted as both mirror and window. Utilizing choreography by filmmaker and dancer Blanca Li, the models’ experimental movements emphasized the experimental nature of the garments: two dresses were made with 3D printing and some were made in collaboration with architect Phillip Beesley. Van Herpen seems to be the only designer around solely driven by a need to push the medium of fashion beyond expectations. Saint Lauren Paris FW 2016, possibly Hedi Slimane’s last for the label, did what the label did best: ultra luxurious clothes for rocker girls. But, the shows are starting to feel ever more predictable season-by-season. Maybe it is time for a change. JW Anderson’s work for Loewe is starting to make much more sense, as evidenced by FW 2016. As opposed to creating theatre pieces that merely draw attention to accessories, the clothes were extremely luxurious, such as an all tan leather look. Bernard Wilhelm continues to be underrated, and his FW 2016 presentation showing off menswear and womenswear looks drew upon African garb but made it palatable to a fashion-savvy audience. And the gods of Japanese fashion design, Yohji Yammamoto and Rei Kawakubo, didn’t disappoint (as if they could). Yohji indulged his love of goth, shaping dresses and jumpsuits as coffins, and the black lip-gloss emphasized the “death beauty” appeal. Rei Kawakubo imagined “punks in the 18th century” at Comme des Garcons and disregarded all worries about selling. Her designs reached peak decadence with abstract royal gowns that towered over their models like pillars. 


[Fashion] Paris Fashion Week Men's 2016

photograph by Thibault Camus

Text by Adam Lehrer

It feels like every season I find myself almost wanting the Paris round of menswear shows to suck, just to change it up. I can make claims like, “London is ground zero for cutting edge young menswear designers,” or “Italian luxury is forever,” or “New York is on the up and up,” but when it comes down to it, everything still pales in comparison to the lineup of designers that show their new duds in Paris. And until Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Kim Jones, Dries Van Noten, Yohji Yammamoto, Junya Watanabe, and so forth decide to show elsewhere, that appears to be how it will stay.

The FW 2016 Paris menswear shows seemed to emphasize time, nostalgia, and at times a rejection of nostalgia. Raf Simons, free of the punishing time constraints placed upon him as creative director of Dior, unleashed his most furiously cultural referent collection since his work with Sterling Ruby. Yohji Yammamoto looked nowhere but the future for his new Y-3 collection, preparing fashions for the final frontier. Kris Van Assche at Dior Homme elevated two fondly remembered sub-cultures, early New Wave and ‘90s skate culture, to Dior-ian qualities (with mixed results). Fashion is all about looking towards the future or remembering the past in efforts to co-opt those thoughts for the here and now. That sentiment was evident all throughout Paris this past week.

Raf Simons

Raf Simons has always managed to be a designer that sparks interest in people that may not be overwhelmingly interested in fashion, but who adore music and visual art. Joy Division and Factory Records fans delighted in his FW 2003 “Closer” collection that referenced Peter Saville graphics. His FW 2014 collection with Sterling Ruby may have been the most intriguing artist/designer collab of all time. Raf’s FW 2016 collection found Raf delighting in all the various works of art that inspire him now. Free of Dior, he has time to smartly cultivate a network of ideas and tie them together in a manner that feels effortless even if painstaking. The most talked about reference here was David Lynch (it also happened to be David’s birthday). The show was soundtracked to a recording of composer Angelo Badalmenti discussing his work scoring Twin Peaks, and the clothes had that macabre sense of banal Americana, or dare I say “Lynchian” qualities; the oversized letterman sweaters brought to mind the sultry princess of The Great Northern Audrey Horne, and the slashing of them the threat of imminent danger. And though grotesque Americana was the main theme here, with Raf also mentioning the Boy Scouts, The Breakfast Club, and slasher films as primary influences, he also took time to reference two more of his favorite artists. Raf cited Cindy Sherman as an influence on the collection, and the reference makes sense: Sherman’s portraiture of classically “American” figures (whatever that means) always hinted at something sinister beneath the surface. These clothes, while objectively normal or “American” (high school puffer jackets, oxfort shirts) were presented in such a manner to subvert their own expectations. Raf also claimed to be thinking more of aruguably his greatest influence, Martin Margiela, during the designing of this collection. The way the coats were so big to hang off the frames of the models, the smart tattering of sleeves, and the emphasis on the garments as objects all blatantly but brilliantly paid ode to Margiela and his legacy. This was a magnificent collection, perhaps the best Raf has presented since his work with Ruby. It was conceptually brilliant and aesthetically beautiful, and most importantly I want all of this stuff. Even better? Raf finally started diversifying his models, perhaps realizing that his justification of his use of white models is due to the street casting he does in Antwerp, probably won’t work anymore.

Dries Van Noten

Dries van Noten had been trying to secure the location of his FW 2016 show for 15 years. The Palais Garnier, an opulent shrine to French glory, was a fitting testament to the impact of this show. FW ’16 felt like the most quintessentially “Dries” show that Van Noten has shown in quite some time, finding the traditional and statuesque beauty in the imagery of the subversive and radical. The first coat, a black trench with a mock-neck collar and a waist flap, came emblazoned with a coiling snake graphic perfectly placed. While jackets fit rather slim, pants and shorts came oversized, emphasizing Dries’s tendency to go off-trend and come up with silhouettes you didn’t even realize that you wanted right now. All things told, the Dries collection had my favorite coats of the season, and there were so many options. Floral patterns, plaids, and psychedelic graphics designed by Wes Wilson, he of the era of psychedelic record covers and concert posters (Grateful Dead, Cream, etc..). The Belgians are coming out hard this season.

Louis Vuitton

Kim Jones, a man who undoubtedly clocks over 50 hours a week designing menswear for the world’s biggest fashion house, still finds seemingly tons of time to see the world, and his travels often influence his collections. But this time around for FW 2016 Louis Vuitton menswear collection, Jones looked around him at home. What does Paris mean to the world now? How does its heritage affect the world and how is that heritage viewed by those outside it? And most importantly, how do we push Paris and all its inherent ideas into the future? Jones answered swiftly, taking the most iconic of Parisian references, from Jean Cocteau to Art Deco, and employing them into garments imagined for an optimistically bright future. After the attacks in November, the show takes on a defiantly political tone: Paris thrives. The clothes here were utterly sleek, perfectly cut, and shimmering with promise. The belted trench coat at the beginning made its wearer look like an assassin after just completing a highly lucrative and expertly executed kill. A blue velvet double breasted coat was one of the best pieces Jones has ever designed. The clothes here were almost too spectacular to name one by one, so let’s just say that Louis Vuitton is still the historical fashion house making wealthy old men shell out credit and also making young urban guys want to grow up and get their shit together, trade in their Schott Perfectos and 501s for an immaculately coiffed double breasted suit.

Gosha Rubchinskiy

When Rei Kawakubo shows up, you know something is going on. As was the case with Gosha Rubchinskiy’s FW 2016 collection. Though it is smart business for Rei to support her suportees (Gosha’s brand is manufactured by Comme facilities, but is not a “Comme brand” as in Junya or Sacai), you hardly ever see her in-person anymore. But Rei, as with many of the more forward thinking in this industry, sees something in Gosha. When he debuted his first collection, he didn’t have much more to offer other than sweats and hoodies with eye-grabbing prints on them. But there was something in the perspective; here was someone that had to work hard to learn culture, and is working just as hard to show the world his culture. He’s one of the true original voices in the industry. Now to progress his brand, the Gosha FW 2016 collection took on a harder edge, employing more types of fashions as well as more capital “F” fashion. The high-waisted jeans and suspenders brought to mind the sinister underbellies of the hardened skinhead while also celebrating a goofiness in self-presentation. Near see-through jet-black turtlenecks with Russian prints will fly off the racks of Dover Street Market. The cargo trousers had the perfect silhouette for such a pant, loose but not baggy and cropped but never tight. The outerwear, which Gosha is proving he has a knack for, was excellent. The oversized shearling coats were the type of coat you just want to live in all winter.

Haider Ackermann

Haider Ackermann’s brand has always had this interesting aesthetic that seems like it’s designed for the wild child son or daughter of some aristocratic one percenter. The child who shuns the family business, goes to art school, takes tons of drugs and spends daddy’s money on records and expensive clothes, and still inherits his/her parents’ worth and stumbles into a board meeting one day ready to take total control. While wearing Haider of course. That is always what has made the brand cool to me, and perhaps why the brand is favored by so many of our most inherently punk rock pop culture icons. Tilda Swinton loves the brand, and Kanye has employed various Haider products (oversized velvet sweatshirts, velvet bombers, gigantic hoodies) and made them the new look of the fashion conscious hip-hop industry (Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear of God line is basically Haider silhouettes of skateboarding garb). Perhaps with that newfound relevance, Haider embraced his most abrasive inner wild child with the FW 2016 collection. While nothing new for Haider, it’s still totally unique in the culture of brands. The male models in the show, wearing Bauhaus Mohawks, wore mis-matched jacquard suits and magnificently garish velvet coats. The women, with shaved heads, snugged themselves into lovely leathers. The blue velvet pieces were out of this world, and immediately brought to mind the fetishizing of the material in its namesake David Lynch film. I want to wear some of Haider’s stuff badly, perhaps he could do the next H&M collection?


Fresh off a very successful collection with adidas (his Ultra Boost colorway was fire, I got a paid, woohoo) Junichi Abe has never appeared so confident in his design chops. The Kolor FW 2016 collection, though lacking in the color that you might expect, employed all the aesthetic choices that make Abe so compelling. Everything is slightly mismatched, a little off, and yet so right all the same. A multi-layered look with trousers, bomber jacket, and shirt, was actually one solitary piece. I’m not sure anyone wants to buy a pre-made outfit, but that is the level of skill you are dealing with when it comes to Abe. The most conventional looks, such as a droopy double-breasted khaki blazer, and the oddest looks, such as a blue plastic labcoat, all felt part of a cohesive narrative world. That is I suppose what is so interesting about Abe. Perception of him as a whole is of an artistic rebel in the world of fashion, but his clothes are quite normal and easy on the eyes. In person however, you find design flourishes that are more difficult, and even more compelling.

Rick Owens

Few designers do post-apocalyptic fashion better than Rick Owens, afterall, he was the designer who kept Mad Max in vogue long before Fury Road collectively blew our fucking minds last year. But with 2015 the world’s hottest year ever recorded, Owens is legitimately worried that the world is ending. But he’s a tough guy. It’s easy to see Rick Owens as the Rick Grimes of his own goth fashion tribe, and he’s not going down without a fight. His apocalypse army will survive looking sick, of course. The looks oscillated between Owens touchstones, like his perfect minimalist bomber jackets and his brutalist man dresses, between works of great architectural care that nevertheless presented themselves as part of some eternal unknown. Perhaps the biggest shockers were the standard black blazers. But nevertheless, Rick is ready to take on the end, and he will have his acolytes going out looking tough and stylish as fuck.


While people swooned over the garish H&M X Balmain collaborative collection, I was happily picking up every piece by from the understated, comfortable, and elegant collection from Christopher Lemaire’s collaboration with Uniqlo. Lemaire, a former designer of Hermes, understands that luxury is not always (or for everyone) about standing out. It’s about feeling good and comfortable so you can stand out on you own, and let your personality do the talking for you. He is a true minimalist designer, finding perfection in blank slates and unique structures. His FW 2016 collection was full of chalky and dark colored structured jackets and blazers, oversized trousers, tunics, and more. These are the types of clothes that I would most often like to wear, and their easiness is their inherent appeal.

Yohji Yammamoto

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a Yojhi nut, but I don’t feel biased in declaring this one of Yammamoto’s best seasons in recent memories (though the last one was pretty good). The Japanese revolution of designers has been insanely long-lasting in the ever-evolving fashion sphere. Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garcons is the largest avant fashion label in the world and she is the champion of so many of the leftfield designers of the future. Issey Miyake, though less involved in the design of his garments, continues diversifying in his brand. And Yohji, at age 72, continues to push the envelop. His Y-3 show was as interesting as ever, especially considering that Y-3 has been tapped by NASA to design the first ever fashion for space. But Yammamoto’s namesake brand has always been his ideal man, a cigarette smoking frolicking dark dandy with a permanent sourpuss. The FW 2016 collection featured Yammamoto at his most precious, with tiny t-shirts covering heavy outerwear displaying a squeezed effect inspired by when kids go out in the snow and their parents make them put on all their clothes. Everything was nicely draped. The scarves were sick. And as always, Yohji’s underrated footwear designs were some of the nicest on any catwalk.

Honorable Mentions

Sacai’s FW 2016 collection, apparently about peace and love or something, displayed a stunning color palettes of greys and burgundies as well as black stripe pattern. Takahiro Miyashita the Soloist’s new collection, always inspired by rock n’ roll, offered some sly but wearable design flourishes, like a pullover MA-1. Ann Demeulemeester, now designed by ever-intense Sebastian Meunier, offered a romantic and gothic take on contemporary male beauty. And Thom Browne threw luxury in your face and then tattered it to pieces before turning it into luxury again.