PARIS -- Acrid exhaust fumes and the beeping of car horns contrasted with perfumed interiors and the soft rustle of luxuriant fabrics, as Paris Fashion Week got underway in the public transport strike-hit French capital. The disruption — owing to a nationwide protest against pension reform — has already claimed its first catwalk victims, with at least one house cancelling its show due to problems delivering materials. Here are some highlights of Wednesday's menswear collections for fall-winter 2020-2021.
In a bejeweled visor and diaphanous silk gown, the singer that warbled from the stage at the Valentino show presented an angelic vision.
Accompanied by a soul-searing cellist and pianist, she sang of womanhood and female empowerment as enchanted VIP guests inside the Grand Palais venue held out their cameras.
Albeit sublime, this choice of presentation had fashion insiders asking, after the show, how it fitted in with the rather run-of-the-mill menswear clothes they just saw?
Designer Pierpaolo Piccioli on Wednesday produced a collection grounded firmly on earth — on an urban sidewalk, in fact.
It was sporty and utilitarian with a relatively slim silhouette, mainly comprising statement coats with printed words or blown-up flowers.
There seemed to be few new ideas this season. The Italian designer continued his obsession with the “VLTN” logo, which appeared all over a knee-length monochrome coat.
Elsewhere, a tailored suit had one side of the collar turned up in what might be an attempt to freshen a well-worn design.
If the collection fell flat, it's perhaps because Piccioli — a master of couture — succeeds best when he makes us dream, not when he grounds us on earth.
TRANSPORT STRIKE CAUSES CHAOS
Wednesday was the French capital's 42nd straight day of public transport strikes that have wreaked havoc on business and tourism. Now high fashion will bear the brunt — an industry that puts on multiple daily collections all over the City of Light during the four-times-a-year fashion week.
It was all too much for at least one designer, Christophe Josse, who cancelled his Paris Fashion Week show because of the strikes.
In a statement, Josse s aid he was unable to present his collection during next week's couture calendar because the strikes had disrupted fashion suppliers.
American brand RR 331 also bowed out of the couture calendar, but it didn't link the decision with the French industrial action.
The fashion federation in Paris has, meanwhile, doubled the number of buses transporting journalists to and from shows to guarantee coverage as models and editors crisscross the city.
OFF-WHITE FUSES SPORTY AND SARTORIAL
Au unexpected sartorial twist set the tone at the start of Virgil Abloh's menswear offering this season for Off-White.
It signaled a nice direction for the US designer — who fused the suited vibe with the urban, basketball-infused aesthetic for which he is best known.
A loose double-breasted jacket sported perforated holes. A gray shirt had billowing sporty toggles hanging down from inside. While an oversize basketball jersey was made with a thick and sumptuous knit, with a beautiful Asian feel in billowing sleeves.
The increased star-power Abloh has accrued since becoming Louis Vuitton's menswear designer was on full show via the flash of cameras, powerful front row and heaving masses inside the Louvre basement venue.
AMI'S CURTAIN CALL
A dramatic red theater curtain — closed and mysteriously lit up — a roused the curiosity of fashion insiders invited to French designer Alexandre Mattiussi's fall-winter collection for AMI.
The theatrical occasion intended to celebrate the Parisian it-label's ninth year anniversary, and what better a way to mark a milestone for a French fashion house than a grumpy-looking musician playing a bejeweled accordion?
The unisex styles filed by to the live on-stage music, riffing on tuxedo styles in the display's first looks.
Bowler hats, androgynous floppy menswear culottes and voluminous flared suit pants added a eccentric touch. Warm turtlenecks were this season's nod to winter.
Then, the collection let its hair down by channeling 70s' disco.
An eye-popping silver sequined gown with high retro collar was worn with style by a female model. She sported that era's bell-shaped hair style that has now returned to fashion, four decades later.
ETUDES MERGES “TERMINATOR” WITH FUN
Fashion-forward French house Etudes merged the austere with the fun to produce an accomplished and highly wearable collection.
A menacing dark gunmetal 80s overcoat with minimalist cinched waist, big black boots and a model with a punk Mahican began the show.
Then, a black T-shirt featuring an image of Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator even made an appearance.
This hard aesthetic was poked fun at as the 44-piece collection progressed.
Psychedelic prints on suits and oversize pockets followed dazzling neon lime scarves and a giant blue knitted sweater depicting a world map.
Etudes has developed a reputation of being one of the most cutting-edge houses on the current Paris calendar.