January 20, 2013 5:17 pm

Paris Menswear: day four

The risk of missing out on an Hermès classic paid off

It was about halfway through Saturday’s Hermès show that realisation struck: there were no ties.

Under the sleek navy coats with large metal buttons, menswear designer Veronique Nichanian sent out rollnecks, all atop hiking boots with yellow laces. Yet – no ties, from this house that probably sells a ton of them every second? Eventually a couple came towards the end, but they were matched to the shirt beneath: chocolate brown on chocolate brown; grey on grey.

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It was quite a statement, but more surprising was how natural it felt, and how modern. Those navy coats, supple but with structure, were some of the best seen at these autumn/winter 2013 men’s shows. They echoed the active, streamlined mood of an opening look: a ski jumper, with speed stripes down the sleeves and at the elbow.

Not everything worked: faintly quilted trousers muddled the silhouette, and another overwhelming shade of yellow doesn’t work on any garment. But a cardigan made from the softest crocodile skin heralded luxury, and the truth that the Hermès men’s customer is of such wealth, he can look beyond the traditional trappings of the suit/tie formula.

For those who don’t buy into the idea – literally or metaphorically – however, there were ties from the off at Dior Homme – though how to avoid snagging said ties when they are worn under a high-zippering skinny jacket would challenge even the most ardent neckwear-phile. Still, overall Dior Homme’s designer, Kris Van Assche, sent out a collection on Saturday that was focused in its vision and better than much of his work for the house.

The new lapel and collar-free suit shape was slick and slim, and didn’t need the unnecessary buckles Van Assche sometimes added to the front, which looked too much like those famously used on the bags and accessories of Prada.

Nor did the overly complicated runway help the situation: the models had to take a complicated path up and around the sides of the catwalk, which, combined with the reduced suits, made them look like confused waiters who had forgotten which order was for which table, or where they even worked. Van Assche added sweaters with an image of a triangle inside a circle so large, it extended on to the arms.

Rendered in T-shirts and other commercial pieces, this will sell, but there wasn’t much sense of what any of it had to do with Christian Dior himself, or how it was – well, tied to the heritage of the House.

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