Paris fashion from the front line...

YOHJI YAMAMOTO
Yamamoto remains true to himself for Autumn Winter, showing long, precision-cut black coats that featured floor-length scarves sewn directly at the collar, and wide-leg trousers with pleats which, whilst not remarkable, are somehow updated and renewed by the designer each season to become modern classics. This season, the Japanese designer was apparently inspired by traditional Scottish garb, with tartan prints worn as capes, as well as appearing as lining, and looking terrific when flashing in the pleats of the coats.

DRIES VAN NOTEN
At the Couvent des Cordeliers, Dries van Noten showed a wonderful collection, clean and serious with a modern edge that played excellently with color and classic forms. The trousers were comfortably cut, some with a zip at the shin, all ending at the ankle. The feted designer delved into the world of knitwear with striped pullovers and scarves. His tops and shirts mixed patterned fabrics in silk-taffeta and tartan prints, an approach also applied to the coats, which were predominantly wide and loose-fitting a la 1960s.

BLAAK HOMME
The French fashion duo Blaak Homme sent an eclectic collection down the catwalk with multiple themes. The range embraced wide, loose-fit trousers in wool as well as slim-cut pants in velvet, shorts of tartan fabric and long, tapered pants, tailored suit-jackets, youthful bomber jackets and pullovers which drew on elements of grunge. Whilst all the pieces were pleasing individually, the absence of any clear style statement let the collection down.

MULBERRY
The English leather-specialist hosted a showroom presentation to reveal its third men’s wear collection for Autumn Winter. The inspiration was taken from the ultimate grunge icon, Kurt Cobain, whose style was mimicked in casual parkas, cowl-necks, knitted tops, velvet and slim-fit jeans, with the look completed by multi-pocket leather bags, whose lead was taken from old postman bags.

PAUL & JOE
Paul & Joe showed its Autumn Winter collection within the ambiance of a wooden mountain ski-lodge, the pieces themselves inspired by the ski-slope and après ski outfits of 1930. Warm waistcoats - some with a fur collar - heavy pullovers and cardigans in jacquard-patterns and warm colors such as beige, brown and grey formed the main theme of the collection. The second section took its lead from the Olympic games in the seventies, with vibrant colors in yellow, orange and coral blue, used in down and leather jackets.

GASPARD YURKIEVICH
The French designer opened fashion week in Paris for the men’s ready-to-wear-shows for Autumn Winter 2008/09 in one of the city’s most fashionable locations, the brand new artscience-gallery Le Laboratoire, near of the Louvre. Accompanied by Wagner’s classical compositions, Yurkievich showed a very clean and structured silhouette absent of any color other than black, bar one grey pull-over and an occasional shirt. The trousers are slim with a pleated waistband and ankle, while tops were more voluminous. Tailored overalls were an eye-catcher, reminiscent of a dapper pair of water-waders. Yurkievich himself said he was inspired by the British Artist Anthony McCall and Sylvia Wolf’s Mapplethorpe: Polaroids book.

ROMAIN KREMER
Kremer won a special price some years ago at the notable Offspring Festival in Hyères with a colorful harlequin collection, yet took an alternative and far more wearable direction for Fall opening the show with black top-and-trousers combinations in a slim silhouette à la Hedi Slimane. However Kremer had not abandoned his penchant for strong colors entirely: neon dominated the rest of the collection, and cuts were fanciful and layered, and perfect for the tecktonik kids of today. NUMBER (N)INE
The Japanese designer Takahiro Miyashita again played out his affection for American fashion with a collection that offered more than a nod to all things Americana and were reminiscent of the outfits worn by the late Heath Ledger and Jack Gyllenhaal in the seminal film, Brokeback Mountain. The Wild West came through with soft moccasins, corduroys trousers, shabby winter jackets and layers of pullovers, shirts and necklaces. Taking it away from all-too classic Western styling, Miyashita mixed in plaid shirts and prints that gave an air of grunge-wear to the proceedings and created one of the most pleasing and wearable Number (N)ine collections to date.

KIMINORI MORISHITA
The Japanese designer Morishita is considered one of the upcoming stars of the new Asian fashion scene and proved worthy of his reputation with this collection, his third showing in Paris. Surprise came in the form of European styling without any references to Asian attitudes, inspiration instead coming from Morishita’s fascination with dinosaurs and fossils since childhood, resulting in a sportswear collection which drew on nature. Models with big mountain boots, turned up trousers or plus fours, multi-pocket vests over patterned pullovers and checked pattern shirts walked the catwalk, and always paired with the elegant touch of a bow tie. This was reference to the styling of the alpinists of World War II, but with the winked eye of a truly Japanese designer.

RYKIEL HOMME
Sonia Rykiel, the so-called the queen of knitting, adhered to her title with a collection of nice pull-overs and huge cardigans in her typically bright palette, specifically Rykiel favorites violet, yellow and cobalt blue. The bulk of the collections was very elegant with slim-cut trousers and great suits for the working man, with her expected humor coming through in leopard-print belts and footwear.

KENZO
Kenzo this season was presented via wonderful and very poetic staging, with models presented on a rotating platform against a backdrop of different paper-hangings of landscapes from a Himalayan valley, the highlands of Scotland, a flower-filled Japanese garden and images of samurai warriors. To each theme, there were different parts of the collection: There were masculine woolen outfits for hunters, water-resistant nylons for sporty fishing-men, a Victorian dandy wardrobe for bohemians and finally, a sportswear collection in black and gold cotton for the modern city-fighters.

BRUNO PIETERS
The upcoming Belgian designer, who is better known for his women’s wear collection, showed in a small gallery that was completely chockablock with guests. Models stood on one side of the room, whilst a more easily visible view was had via a slide show, which revealing casual and wide-leg trousers combined with fine knits and patterned jackets.

JOHN GALLIANO
He will stay an “enfant terrible“, but a genius one. John Galliano’s collection, a look from which is pictured above, was on first view a huge spectacle of harlequins, eccentrics and muscled-men in costume-wear, but soon developed into something altogether more refined. Although the styling and make-up of the show was bizarre in a Galliano fashion - half of the models were made up like the zombied murderers in the film 28 weeks later, the others like masked noble-men from a opera of Commedia dell’arte. However the clothes weren’t as fancy as they first appeared, with the designer showing a lot of fashionable sportswear-trousers with embellishment in the form of golden rivets, zippers for rafting them up to the knee, and laminated jeans, parkas, jacquard-knitted cardigans and artfully decorated vests and jackets.

JEROEN VAN TUYL
Rotterdam-based designer Van Tuyl had the unfortunate show time of 10AM on the Saturday, enticing only a few. Those who didn’t make the early start missed a clean and well-edited collection of mostly grey and black tones, with slim cuts and sharp tailoring. Nice detailing made a show with buttoned jodhpurs, well constructed woolen cardigans with round collars and suits with blouson jackets. Whilst it was definitely not a trend-setting collection, it made a fine show of modern and wearable garments.

JUUN-J
Graduating from Esmod Seoul in 1992 Juun.J began his career as a designer for “Chiffons” followed by design director for Club Monaco” and “NIX”. He launched his first brand in 1999 and showed up fort he first time in Paris in July 2007. This time around Juun-J combined classic suit elements with elaborate detailing and extraordinary textiles. He focused a lot of the tailored work on the trousers, with wide, voluminous cuts, layering work at the waistband and nifty pleats. The pants and blouses were of shining fabrications, while elaborated knitwear with vast collars and layering were stand-outs.

HENRIK VIBSKOV
The Danish designer Vibskov, who graduated from Saint Martins in London, is a multitalented designer who plays drums, break-dances and plays with the restructuring of fashion. His show ambiance was surely the most remarkable. In a cavernous bar he installed a huge neon green bed made which inflated up and down to jazz-like music as models paved their way through a green jungle in shorts, plus-fours and colorful suits in typically Vibskov-esque handcrafted patterns. With a lot of humor, he showed a modern collection for young men with a fashionable audacity.

- by Barbara Markert