We round-up the best men’s showings for Fall 2021.
By Juno Kelly.
This week’s Paris Fashion Week Men’s Fall 2021 schedule saw brands adapting to new realities. Due to France’s current COVID-19 restrictions, in-person shows were out of the question. In their place came a slew of filmed runways, the sets for which (in later released footage at least) appeared only slightly less extravagant than usual. Although the runways lacked the usual fanfare, the pandemic does not appear to have infringed on designers’ creativity. From a cultural marriage at Louis Vuitton to a pandemic dystopia at Rick Owens, the collections themselves were as striking as ever. It’s just a shame that, thanks to stay at home mandates, we’ll have to wait longer than usual to wear them.
Scroll down for a summary of some of the week’s most memorable shows.
Louis Vuitton: A Post-Pandemic Utopia
According to the press release, Louis Vuitton’s Virgil Abloh took inspiration for this season from “Stranger in the Village,” a 1953 essay by African-American writer James Baldwin on his experiences living in a village in Sweden compared to his life in the United States. Like Baldwin, Abloh is a Black American man living and working in Europe, a cultural marriage which served as the center point of a collection in which traditional European suiting met Ghanaian prints and draping.
Practically speaking, Abloh took no heed of the pandemic when designing this season’s line. Full black tie and formal suiting reigned supreme, bypassing the casualwear working from home has necessitated. Abloh played with gender norms via calf-length pleated skirts styled over matching long trousers, and intricate rosettes attached to suit jackets’ breasts. Cowboy hats and boots gave the collection a Western edge, while hordes of tartan prevented the line from becoming too corporate chic.
Rick Owens: A Sketch of Our “Barbaric Contradictory Times.”
Rick Owens’ Fall 2021 runway depicted a dystopian, COVID-hindered world. Billowing fog set the backdrop for the (closed) runway, as models emerged in ensembles reminiscent of high fashion armor. Masks were worn alongside dark sunglasses, rendering faces invisible, a choice which, according to the press release, spoke of “protection and withdrawal.”
A deconstructed faux-fur and leather bomber jacket, worn alongside wide-leg trousers, was the show’s most wearable look. True to the brand’s baseline, the shoes were the standout feature. Knee-high, heeled boots came in leathers and seemingly grinch-inspired moss fur, worn with blindingly clean tighty-whities in a nod to male sexuality.
Hermès: Parisian Practicality Through a Split-Screen Lens
The artistic director of Hermès menswear, Véronique Nichanian, wasn’t letting a ban on in-person show schedules rob the fashion masses of the Hermès experience. Her solution to the pandemic? A split-screen video that captured the set from varying angles, allowing the viewers eyes to wander more freely than a traditional film presentation.
Although on the more wearable end of the fashion week spectrum, the garments were not short on luxury. Tailoring was sharp on blazers, trousers were neatly turned up at the hems instead of floor-grazing à la Louis Vuitton, and wax-coated rain jackets hinted at Parisian practicality.
Dior Men: Kim Jones Meets Peter Doig
This season, Kim Jones—ever the fan of a collaborative project—joined forces with Scottish-born figurative painter and Central Saint Martins graduate Peter Doig. The result? Brightly colored knitwear sweaters strewn in the artist’s signature brushstrokes. Elsewhere, the collection saw Asiatic collar structures and buttoning on militaristic jackets, and an embellished take on classic hats at the hands of the house’s resident milliner, Stephen Jones.
The shoes appeared heavily inspired by the great outdoors, with Wellington-like black boots and snow-ready moon boots. The brand’s signature saddlebag could be found in varying camo print shades, while oversized bags hung from shoulders, perhaps ushering in an era of shoulder bags for men.
Prada: Long Johns Make a Return
Prada kicked off fashion week, with Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons’ first collaborative menswear venture. In a bid to prioritize comfort and security, re-worked long johns served as the collection’s focal point. Models sauntered down the runway in button-down, fitted onesies in varying patterns and fabrics.
As is often the case with Prada, jackets were a focal point. Double-breasted wide-shouldered peacoats spoke of masculine formality, while zesty leather-look oversized bomber jackets will likely become a staple for the younger Prada fans next season.
The geometric multi-room set was designed by architect Rem Koolhaas of AMO, a Rotterdam-based agency that has collaborated with Prada for decades. Walls and floors were coated in faux fur and came in varying colors, the red one of which was reminiscent of Twin Peaks‘ “red room.”
Jil Sander: Not a Collarbone In Sight
Shot in the historic (and devoid of central heating) Château de Franconville north of Paris, this season’s Jil Sander models kept warm in elongated turtle necks—some adorned with multi-layered necklaces, others with precise button detailing. In the looks devoid of a high collar, satin sailor neckties featured.
Black and white photographs of Bauhaus women captured by surrealist artist Florence Henri adorned garments, sometimes framed with white fringing. The show’s most innovative look saw a longline puffer jacket made of ivory linen, styled over a matching hooded jumper.
As was the case at Dior, Wellington-style boots reigned supreme, this time fitted at the foot and made formal with laces.