The return of sportswear to mens' wardrobes was echoed at the Paris shows, albeit with less decorum than the Italian presentations and with a little more edge. Take for example the much-talked about Givenchy show, with Ricardo Tisci'sBirds of Paradise print shown on shorts, jackets, tops and just about anything: from a distance they could be mistaken for tacky tourist sportswear, but the wildly exotic pistachio printed floral sets the tone for a new mood in casual luxury.
Casualwear, of course, was a recurring theme in the Spring Summer 2012 collections. Hermes is the timeless style leader in this category and summed it up in a look of double-breasted jackets over poplin drawstring trousers and a simple vest top. Other highlights included a sporty linen bomber in mustard and pyjama-stripe trousers worn with sandals.
Valentino menswear was a hit because it drew elements from British tradition, modern sportswear and Italian tailoring. The result brought military and safari jackets, K-Ways, cargo shorts and hooded parkas. It is the everyday wardrobe for men that is executed with the highest integrity and quality.
Roland Mouret Mr loosened the silhouette for SS12, showing flowy proportions with widened, pleated trousers and broad-shoulder jackets. The styling reminisce of a gentleman holidaying on the Riviera, wearing a belted safari jacket over a polo and shorts. For those who prefer a leaner look there wasn't much to be found on the runway.
Rick Owens always pushes the boundaries with his silhouette and this season was no different. The designer quipped he invented the four-piece suite, adding a tunic-like apron and skirt to the look. While the men's skirt is unlikely to make a commercial impact, Owens' exquisite tailoring and couture-like fabrics means the designer doesn't compromise to please the masses. Those who own one of this leather jackets will know they don't come any better than that.
Perhaps the slickest show of Paris fashion week was Raf Simons. Literally, as the models gelled-back hair made the cuts of his tailoring look even sharper. Simons played with graphics and textures, adding a deconstructed plaid print to jackets, trousers and collar details. The classic oxford shoes were given a makeover with a gold rim.
One of the most anticipated shows of the week was John Galliano. After his unceremonious exit from Dior the press was keen to see what would come of his namesake collection. The atelier took over the design challenge and whilst all the elements of eccentric styling were present, the focus seemed lacking. That was the strength of its founder, whose talents are difficult to emulate or replace.
Mugler presented a collection of heroic menswear, inspired by the Adonis and prevailing masculine aesthetic. Pushing the boundaries of fashion is important to take the artform forward, but with Mugler one wonders if trying so hard to be edgy, one get's lost in the theatrics. Not many looks or individual styles are likely to translate into anything wearable. Perhaps the house doesn't need the sales.
Paul Smith is one of those reliable brands where even if his catwalk doesn't push the boundaries of fashion, there are always quintessential looks that are modern and relevant. For spring Smith replaced his eponymous stripe with colour blocking, and added a shiny finish to fabrics and textures. With a palette of mostly blues tones, the collection is very wearable without screaming fashion.
Image: Mugler, Raf Simons, Rick Owens SS12
Click here for videos of PFW.