Colour was once again hard to find in the menswear collection in this sombre-looking season. Even the catwalks were mainly black, and overall there was little newness in Paris. Traditional silhouettes were simply reworked in shrunken proportions a la Milan by some brands, including Dior Homme and Raf Simons.
A more relaxed mood infiltrated the catwalk at Lanvin, where sporty silhouettes were louche yet elegant. Elsewhere there was a playful sense of volume taking its cue from womenswear, with contrasting top and bottom halves at Rykiel Homme, Yves Saint Laurent and Dries Van Noten. Slim outerwear was once again a crucial look, with the cropped pea coat cementing its importance at Rykiel Homme.
Layering was another style tactic that echoed Milan, with the best example at Dior Homme. But while the three-piece was key on the Italian runways, it was fine knits and outerwear that provided the draping here.
Chunky knits proved popular once again, and were used at Gieves & Hawkes and Paul Smith. Heavyweight and textured knitwear has been spreading rapidly and - perhaps thanks to its greater flexibility - the style seems to have ousted the more casual hoody as a transitional item. This versatility shows that designers are attempting to break down the smart/casual barrier, as seen at almost every Paris show. Strict formality was a no-no, but few designers elected to dismiss the suit silhouette.
References to the 1980s featured in neons and colour blocking at Dries Van Noten and Louis Vuitton, as well as in a new romantic feel at Dior Homme and not-so-subtle interpretation at Paul & Joe. Yet retro styles were balanced with futuristic looks and shiny tailoring at Raf Simons and Rykiel Homme, while technical fabrics were used at Armand Basi and Comme des Garaons.
Junya Watanabe bucked that trend to send out a parade of leathers, which echoed the sinister undertones of the season's black and grey palette. Next season's rebels will have a dark background to revolt against.
SHOW OF THE WEEK
It was black, it was tight and it was young. But Hedi Slimane's collection for Dior Homme was more than the sum of its parts, making sense of trends from both Milan and Paris. The 3sb jacket, high on the agenda in Milan, was used here with closely-spaced buttons for a lower-slung shape. A super-slim trench bucked the trend for shrunken outerwear, although Slimane also played with layering and lengths, mixing casual and formal styles. Louche knits, roll-necks and T-shirts were teamed with trousers and suits.
Commercial nous fuelled Paul Smith's twisting of tradition, which featured his usual heritage checks and signature florals. The show opened with nautical and biker references, as brass-buttoned navy woollen outerwear and slick leathers combined with cream North Sea-ready cable knits. Mismatched grey tones were used on separates, with an emphasis on waistcoats and tailoring mixed with casualwear. Both 2sb and db silhouettes were narrow and the Union Flag was a recurring motif on belt buckles.
Tonal black kicked off yet another autumn 07 show, but at Lanvin it came with a far more relaxed ethic as the casual/formal mix got one of its best outings. Knitted cardigans and ties were teamed with slacks and polos while trousers swung loose, as designer Alber Elbaz offered relaxed tailoring with soft shoulders. Tighter tailoring and shorter jackets featured in ever-popular grey shades, alongside fine knits and outerwear with cut-away hems. Parkas were shiny and outerwear stayed true to Elbaz's soft-shouldered sermon.
DRIES VAN NOTEN
Another designer that has played with volume on womenswear, Dries Van Noten showed wide, pleated trousers with relaxed db jackets. But there were also plenty of tight trousers teamed with oversized knits in a paisley repeat print. Fine knits were worn under metallic green biker-style jackets, and the designer opted for the harsh contrasts of black and navy with acid neons. Fluorescent yellow trousers were worn with slouchy super-fine knits, and a neon yellow trim was used on black techy outerwear.
Opening with winter white roll necks and outerwear, there was a sense of refined, retro style at Marc Jacobs' Louis Vuitton show. But with fun so low on the ground in this super-serious season, it was heartening to see graduated dyes on jackets and trousers, while colour blocking on techy outerwear added a 1980s skiwear feel to the collection. The use of tomato red accents sharpened the slate grey and detergent-fresh whites, while outerwear remained steely and austere.
PAUL & JOE
With early 1980s influences leaking in from womenswear, someone was bound to use new romantic influences sooner or later. At Paul & Joe, it meant billowing pirate shirts in pink, teamed with a grey roll neck and high-waisted black trousers. This oversized silhouette was repeated, including on a red hoody - one of the few to surface against the grain of chunky knits. Eveningwear influences looked fresh, with grey checks layered on black, while matt grey was teamed with lilac for an unusual twist.
YVES SAINT LAURENT
Luxurious cocooning layers in stone, slate and sand set Stefano Pilati's Yves Saint Laurent collection apart from many of this season's shows. Volume was also key on chunky wrap knits and long button cardigans. Pilati played with proportions on trousers, veering from wide pleated fronts to narrow flat-front versions that provided contrasting silhouettes when teamed with the voluminous top halves. Accent colours were limited, with chartreuse used on cable knit roll necks and bright berry featuring on accessories.
Boxy, tight and minimalist, this was vintage Raf Simons - but with a twist. While the steel grey and black palette was unsurprising, the glittering, shimmering metallic tones ensured the collection looked less harsh. Texture and tonal contrasts were extreme, with patent panels juxtaposed with heavy knit wools on jackets, while knee-length coats came in matt charcoal on the top half and glossy slate on the bottom. With the emphasis on suits and outerwear, Simons interspersed his usual buttoned-up white shirt with a black roll neck.
Sonia Rykiel's menswear collection emphasised look-at-me knitwear in shades of grey. Long-length knits had wide rugby stripes that recalled womenswear styles from autumn 06. Accent colours also took their cue from women's trends, with bright Yves Klein blue punctuating the black and grey. But a masculine bodyline was emphasised on tight tailoring in glittering fabrics, with peak lapels used on 2sb jackets. Body-hugging outerwear came in cropped db styles in dove grey, while knee-length knits were chunky and belted.
GIEVES & HAWKES
Joe Casely-Hayford's unfussy collection for Gieves & Hawkes took in tonal grey tailoring, cable knits and wide-collared outerwear with a more relaxed silhouette than most. Tailoring was teamed with knitwear, while Casely-Hayford steered clear of strictly formal tailoring, as he did last season. On knits, chartreuse highlights recalled Burberry Prorsum a year ago, but also introduced layered patterns that used azure blue polka dots under an oatmeal honeycomb, which softened the dusky grey and blue-black palette.
BEST OF THE REST
John Galliano began with samurai references, which were watered down into an urban combat style, while Jean Paul Gaultier utilised 1970s excess with db outerwear as the commercial key. Hermes took in the new look for outerwear with a buttonless, shrunken pea coat, and Armand Basi provided slinky black and grey outerwear in technical fabrics. Junya Watanabe sent down a procession of matt and gloss leather jackets, while Comme des Garaons' hippy-esque pastel suits gave way to morning coat-inspired grey suits.