Paris menswear opens with Wales Bonner and Lanvin
Paris Menswear Week opened with a slow boil on Tuesday, with no live shows, but two impressive collections, and videos, by Wales Bonner and Lanvin.
A former LVMH Prize winner, Grace Wales Bonner carved out a great reputation in early collections for creating rather majestic tailoring that referenced and immortalized her parents’ cultures in Africa and the Caribbean.
However, in recent seasons, her emphasis has been far more focused on streetwear, albeit with a dreamily romantic disposition.
This season her sunny island show video was directed by Joshua Woods and featured sensitive youths at ease in soft streetwear styles – V-neck cricket sweaters with matching shorts; rust suede jackets; white T-shirts with loose necklines; drawstring linen pyjama pants. Her graphic T-shirts even included some French, one reading Reviens à Moi Chouchou ('Come back to me sweetheart'); while an old red transistor radio captured the retro mood.
And just when it got a little too casual, Wales Bonner whipped up a great ecru linen suit with high lapels and contrasting striped sleeves. Plus, the designer introduced a neat WB logo, sewn into banded collar shirts. While her collab with Adidas also featured in slim sneakers worn in an impromptu football match.
Entitled Volta Jazz, the video and collection was a homage to West African studio portraiture and in particular the work of artist Sanlé Sony in the 1970s in Burkina Faso, then known as Upper Volta. The result, another memorable display by Wales Bonner, a designer who never disappoints.
With Paris terraces newly reopened and masks no longer obligatory, the mood is suddenly carefree in the capital, which made the latest video from Lanvin seemed very prescient.
Opening with a gang of frenzied hair and makeup artists pampering a pouting young beauty backstage. The lady, however, is far more interested in her iPhone and images of beach huts and island vacations.
Which is where one is suddenly transported with loop-the-loop camera angles inside a tropical party hut; the inclusive cast in this co-ed show surviving the steamy tropics in floral silk dresses and tops; pleated mini-skirts or scuba jerseys with organza trims for the gals. While the after-hours surfer boyfriends looked devilishly dapper in russet check rude-boy suits; marvellous mash-up printed cyclist tops; or giddy summer floral shirts finished with bursting-heart Lanvin symbols.
At times, Lanvin’s talented designer Bruno Sialelli can let his concepts take over his collections. Happily not this season, where the sense of kicky color and stylish exuberance was attractive and commercially plausible. His blend of Jeanne Lanvin florals and Antonio Castillo costume drama proving an inspired cocktail – best captured as the cast began boozing on cocktails around a bemused parrot.
All shown to that great upbeat anthem Pure Shores by All Saints, this video captured the sense of release one feels in Paris after the pent-up pandemic. With Sialelli suddenly appearing at the finale saying gently, ‘Lila, wake up darling,’ to rouse the model from her reverie.
Hard to beat the giddy optimism of youth.
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