PARIS -- Dior mania descended on Paris Fashion Week menswear Friday as over a thousand screaming fans thronged the magnificent Place de la Concorde for a glimpse of their favorite stars, with some almost risking their lives in snarled traffic.
The minders of the show's VIP guests, including David Beckham, Naomi Campbell and Korean band BTS members J-Hope and Jimin, navigated the crowd like salmon swimming upstream.
Inside, Dior men's designer Kim Jones paid homage to Yves Saint Laurent, who became the world’s youngest couturier at 21 in 1957 upon Christian Dior’s death.
Here are some highlights of fall-winter 2023-2024 collections:
YSL: AN HOMAGE
In 1958, Saint Laurent unveiled his first collection for Christian Dior. It was a global event which saw the designer draw thousands upon thousands of screaming fans who thronged avenues. Some things never change, even in 65 years.
Kim Jones used that women’s collection as the inspiration for his men’s -- mirroring its contrasts of masculine versus feminine and British tailoring versus couture.
Jones also captured its fluidity to produce a gender-neutral display with softened shapes and loose waists. Unbuttoned suits that unfurled cut a nice trapeze silhouette, as did clever white knit sweaters with sleeves snipped away to flap like a poncho.
Jones did his homework. In Saint Laurent’s debut, he famously abandoned Dior’s cinched waists and lengthy fabrics in favor of more fluid shapes in which the body disappeared, effectively inventing the trapeze silhouette.
Some Jones styles, like an update marine sailor top, were lifted directly from the 1958 archive.
But this sublime show was much more than mere homage. Three-dimensional printed shoes followed contemporary sheer organza vests with tiered banding, and looked aggressive yet feminine. Off the shoulder tailoring on one embellished pearl coat simultaneously evoked a slouchy rebel and an opening flower.
DIOR’S STARS, THESPIANS
The unique fusion of celebrity, artistry, hysteria, beauty and wafting perfume at Dior’s show simply overwhelmed the senses. It began with remarkable filmed performances of actors Gwendoline Christie and Robert Pattinson reciting poetry excerpts, interspliced with images of the Dior collection.
“I am truly so happy to be here at the Dior show," Christie told AP. “It’s no surprise that Kim Jones is one of our greatest living current designers that we have. I’m also very lucky in that he’s a very old friend of mine.”
But even the cool Christie, star of both Dior show and “Game of Thrones,” seemed overwhelmed when journalists ditched her in a split second upon the arrival of BTS's Jimin, who recently was announced as Dior brand ambassador.
PAUL SMITH CHANGES CENTURIES
Smith delved into the history books for a thoughtful display that seemed to merge London from the 1970s with the city in the 1870s.
A quilted coat with checked cape demonstrated this perfectly. It flared out at the back looking as if it were fashioned on Baker Street and could have been worn by Sherlock Holmes if it came with a pipe.
Elsewhere, a high white collar had a prim 19th century feel, while a dark velvety coat with a big collar sported a beautiful textured thickness.
Such old-fashion musing gave fall-winter a more austere style than usual, but it was a welcome change.
The 1970s, a Smith touchstone, also were on abundant display. The designs included blown up checked coats, vibrant blue printed pants and loose colored suits with broad, rounded shoulders.
The best looks were ones that fused the two eras, such as a loose cerulean trench coat with voluminous layers, twinned with a striped blue silk foulard.
BOTTER IS SUPERLATIVE
Flashes of bright color and kinky quirk infused the fabulous co-ed fall fare of Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh.
If there was an overarching theme in Botter's ever-creative and eccentric show, it was surely the haphazard.
A blue bikini was sewn humorously atop a shimmering satin shirt-dress. A suit jacket’s outer layer peeled off to reveal a snakeskin-like underlayer. A mermaid look featured a salmon printed on a tight vest descending to a rippled metallic satin skirt “tail.” A neon-pink knit sweater placed on the front of another sweater was probably a tongue-in-cheek swipe at how cold the Paris weather has been of late.