Lanvin concludes Paris' menswear shows in style

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[January 25, 2010]  PARIS (AP) -- Lanvin's pitch-perfect menswear collection of romantic-yet-rugged suits and billowing trenches wrapped up Paris' fall-winter 2010-2011 displays on a high note Sunday.

InsuranceThe label remained true to its uniquely personal vision, serving up looks that the chicest of Parisians would choose for an Alpine jaunt, or just about any occasion for that matter.

Paul Smith delivered more of the dandified-yet-rock 'n' roll suits that have come to define his very British brand, and Paris-based designer Josephus Thimister made his "grand retour" after a years-long absence with the season's first couture show -- which included starkly beautiful cocktail dresses and evening gowns with a sprinkling of military-inspired men's looks.

Other shows Sunday included the Paris debut of the United Arab Emirate's Khalid Al Qasimi, whose Qasimi label was on-trend with its chunky sweaters while forging its own path with Mao-collared dress shirts embellished with drop pearls.

France's Romain Kremer added a welcome dose of science fiction weirdness, with neon orange sunglasses that swept upward into a forehead panel and parkas covered in tiny rubber tentacles that shook as the models walked, like the grasping of coral's phalanges.

Emanuel Ungaro, the storied but struggling French label, presented a collection of sportscoats fitted with fine metal wires that allow them to hold their shape and luxury sweatpants in cashmere with clever origami closures instead of drawstrings.

High-end sweatpants and longjohns emerged as the fashion-forward man's legwear of choice for next fall. Labels from Louis Vuitton to Jean Paul Gaultier and Belgian critical darling Dries Van Noten paired slouchy leggings with razor-cut blazers to create the sartorial variation on the mullet: Business on the top, couch potato from waist down.

Comfy pieces were big winners, in general. Snugly grandpa cardigans were layered under and at times over suits -- which were sometimes sheered of their fussy buttons in the name of comfort.

Footwear, however, was another story. Chunky mid-calf boots, from combat- to motorcycle-boots, dominated Paris' runways -- often with slim cut trousers tucked into them.

Most designers worked in a somber palette of black and charcoal, with some oatmeal thrown in for good measure, but fans of citrus shades and rich jewel tones will find plenty to choose from at Galliano, Kenzo and Paul Smith.


Though the City of Light's menswear shows ended on Sunday, much the international fashion glitteratti will stay on for the haute couture displays, which run through Wednesday.

For their couture collection, those labels with the means dig deep into their pockets to allow the creative juices free rein and showcase their savoir faire through extravagant, handmade dresses that cost as much as a (very expensive) car. On Monday, luxury giants Dior and Armani field their spring-summer 2010 couture collections.


The rugged sportsman got a high glamor makeover at Lanvin, where Lucas Ossendrijver -- who designs the menswear line under artistic director Alber Elbaz -- layered utilitarian pieces such as oversized sweaters, rain-slickers and calf-high boots with slim-cut pants or flowing wide-legged trousers.

Rugged military drab prints were mixed with sumptuous silks and fine wool, with a sprinkling of sequins and flashes of gold lame adding a sumptuous feminine touch to the ravishing collection. Leather corsets, like variations on weightlifters' belts, were cinched tight over blazers or pillowy parkas.

"For me, it's really about protection," Ossendrijver told The Associated Press in a post-show interview. "This season, we did a lot of coats, round coats like cocoons, that are meant to protect the wearer from the world."

Elbaz put it even more succinctly: "We make clothes for fashion lovers, not fashion victims."

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Discordant soundtracks -- including Dolly Parton singing "I Will Always Love You" over a thumping techno beat -- dueled over the loudspeakers as the models marched down the gleaming white catwalk.

At the end of the show, they lined up against wall, as if for a military review. The audience, packed into bleachers, exploded into hoots of enthusiastic approval.


This man just won't let the music die.

The eccentric Brit, who got his start hawking T-shirts to the likes of The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd back when they were newcomers, delivered an anarchic collection steeped in vintage rock 'n' roll attitude.

The looks were all over the place.

Models -- including some musicians culled from French and British bands for the occasion -- sported mismatched suits in Harris tweeds, layers of chunky sweaters, and shawl-collared jackets and bowler hats or knit caps. They clunked down the catwalk in combat boots or padded softly in velvet dressing slippers and were draped in scarves, with punk touches like safety pin earrings.

There were also period-looking pieces, including swishing greatcoats that channeled Sherlock Holmes and Oliver Twist-like knickers paired with slim velvet jackets.


"When you're a clothes designer, you'll often try to work on a theme to help your assistant designers and eventually help your sales people. But if a theme doesn't come naturally, it's very dangerous to do it," Smith told The AP. "This time, I just thought of my history -- when I started at 18 years old selling T-shirts to rock bands -- and do things I thought a lot of rock stars of all ages would wear."

It was easy to imagine David Bowie in the series of slim, monochrome suits in plum, teal or electric blue, or Patty Smith -- whom the designer says often buys pieces from his menswear collection -- in the lozenge lapeled jackets and slouchy black trousers.


For his return after an extended hiatus, Thimister -- a former Balanciaga designer who is of Russian, Belgian and French origin -- looked to the bloodbath that was World War I for this collection of simple-lined ball gowns in silver and gold, red beaded cocktail dresses and full skirts in military drab worn with soldiers' coats, satin sashes or mesh tank tops splattered in faux scarlet bloodstains.

The show interspersed menswear looks -- reinterpretations of the uniforms of Russian Cossack troops, modeled by male models -- with the couture pieces. Often the men's and women's looks mirrored one another, as with the his-and-hers versions of the red satin pant suit that opened the show.

Bursts of applause rang out from the audience -- a sign of appreciation at Paris' rarified made-to-measure shows -- after many of the looks. Standouts included a cocktail dress in olive silk with a cape-let that transformed into a dramatic train and ball gowns made from woven gold ribbons.

Another gown, which appeared to be made from the kind of foil blankets rescuers hand out after a disaster, made loud crunching and crackling sounds and the model tottered down the runway.

The show ended with all the models, men and women alike, donning pilots' jumpers for the final lap.

[Associated Press; By JENNY BARCHFIELD]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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