At Loewe, creative director Jonathan Anderson collaborated with Richard Hawkins, a Texas-born, Los Angeles-based artist known for his vibrant collages of pop-culture and celebrity images built around themes ranging from the American west to sex tourism.
For the show, in a big white cube set at the Garde Républicaine, the French national honour guard stables near the Bastille, Hawkins created a dozen large screens, shaped like stained glass windows, on the walls above the audience.
During the show, the screens played video collages of house ambassadors, such as actor Jamie Dornan, who was on hand with his wife, the composer Amelia Warner. So were actors Andrew Garfield and Taylor Russell, and Anderson’s longtime friend, the Italian film director Luca Guadagnino, who tapped the Northern Irish designer to make costumes for his two upcoming movies: Challengers, a romantic drama starring Zendaya as a tennis champion, coming in April; and Queer, an adaptation of William S Burroughs’ novel, with Daniel Craig, slated for next autumn.
The Hawkins references filtered down to the runway in pop-art-coloured python coats, ample cowhide maxi coats, and djellabas, hoodies, and track pants in material reproductions of his hyperkinetic collages.
In the place of neckties, Anderson proposed pussy bows for men, loosely tied around the neck of a caramel woven-mohair tunic, a fitted denim shirt, and a crisp white tuxedo shirt, the extra-long sashes falling to the floor. Shoes were casual – skater kicks or combat boots – and even the most formal of suits, in charcoal or dove grey pinstripe, were soft and slouchy.
At Hermès, staged in the Palais d’Iéna, an Art Deco gem that serves as the International Chamber of Commerce, men’s creative director Véronique Nichanian turned to abstraction to create the winning knitwear in her sleek collection. “We wanted to use the idea of horse blankets, but in an abstract manner,” she explained after the show, referring to the house’s history in producing equestrian gear. The effect was as if someone had blasted clouds of spray paint on the sweaters, in forest tones of moss, heather, and peat brown.
The silhouette was sharp and skinny, with lean, flat-front pants cropped at the ankle, and body-contouring jackets. The chicest looks were evening suits in black “pony” – which were really a very fine, furry cowhide – and in black lurex, each giving off a sexy shimmer. Either would make for a smart red carpet look for 21-year-old actor Dominic Sessa, the breakout star of The Holdovers, who was seated in the front row and may very well receive an Oscar nomination for supporting actor next week.
The boots, by Pierre Hardy, Hermès’ artistic director for shoes and jewellery, had a biker/S&M feel to them, with buckles on the sides and silver zips up the back. Notably, there was only one necktie in the lot, quite a statement for a house that in the 1990s sold a million a year. As formal as Hermès is known to be, it has clearly swerved, like its confreres in luxury menswear, toward a far more relaxed approach to dressing. And it’s a refreshing shift.