Some new or noteworthy brands to check out during the Paris shows.
This story first appeared in the January 16, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Designer Pierre Mahéo confesses he designs primarily for himself. Launched in 2012 and now in its fourth season, his Officine Générale line will be brought to a wider audience for the first time in Paris after winning over retailers such as Odin in New York, Barneys New York and Andreas Murkudis in Berlin.
“Fabric is at the core of my design, it always comes first,” said Mahéo. The collection, mostly made in Portugal, is all about natural fabrics sourced in the best quality possible. Alongside wools from the U.K. and Italy, this season will see the introduction of a white selvage denim, a rarity he found in Japan.
His attention to details, some inspired by heritage tailoring and workwear, include newspaper pockets in the lining of coats and tightening tabs on the waist of tailored pants. These are mixed with activewear touches to create a classic wardrobe for the modern urban man.
Mahéo is also introducing shoes this season, with four styles in tune with his design ethos: a basic midhigh sneaker and three lace-up formal shoe styles based on a chic military officer type.
— LAURENT FOLCHER
“We always had a lot of tailoring in our women’s collection. People were pushing us to do men, and now that we have developed our clientele, it felt like the right time,” said Brooke Taylor, who with his partner Nana Aganovich forms the duo behind the Aganovich label.
Their first foray into men’s wear is a capsule wardrobe conceived as the male counterpart to the women’s collection, hitting the same chords of theatrical and romantic inspiration.
Antique botanical drawing plates inspired the men’s logo, while natural linen serves as the fabric of choice for tailored pieces manufactured in the U.K. Quirky details include a clown face adorning the front of a white long-sleeve T-shirt and multicolored zippers at the back of jodhpur pants.
The palette of natural, black and white is dotted with shades of blue obtained with Bleu de Lectoure pigment, an antique natural dye that was worn by all of Napoleon Bonaparte’s soldiers. Here, it is used on jersey tanks and T-shirts, as well as for different motifs on cotton piqué shirts.
— LAURENT FOLCHER
Paris-based British designer Julia Smith created Icosphère in 2008, having worked for houses including Trussardi and Givenchy, where she headed the men’s wear division before the arrival of Ozwald Boateng. Smith was also key in repositioning the contemporary French suit brand De Fursac into more fashionable territory.
This season marks the first runway show for Icosphère, a cryptic name aimed at conveying the idea of individuality and cooperation, as well as the sphere of thought and meaning.
The collection of urban men’s wear is a sleek interpretation of the kind of outfits worn by 17th- and 19th-century English dandies and cavalry officers — romantic inspirations that translate into items like coats that are fitted at the bust but wide at the back, and ample capes in doeskin, a cloth typically used in British military uniforms.
A similar flair runs through bib-front pleated shirts, some with high collars, and ultradressy eveningwear like tail jackets, all done in a restrained palette of gray, black and white, with flashes of bright military red and tarnished silver buttons.
— LAURENT FOLCHER
Another design duo introducing men’s wear this season is Russian Victoria Feldman and Latvian Tomas Berzins. Their brand Victoria/Tomas rose to prominence last year, when they were the youngest designers to show at the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography.
Both in their early 20s, they are based in a village in the French Alps, where they are forging their unique vision of a fashion business based on hand-finished fabrics and small-scale manufacturing. Producing locally allows them to be particularly attentive to the quality of their collections, which are heavy on leather.
Their lineup of 41 men’s pieces includes seductive and robust pieces in dark shades and textured leathers with washed, grainy, papery or glazed finishes. These are used for flatlock-stitched boxy aviator styles and jogging pants, or shorts with big cargo side pockets and drawstring belts.
Touches of metal rock and outdoor utilitarian influences define their style, poised between town and country, an aesthetic they call “positive darkness.”
— LAURENT FOLCHER
STROBLE NEW YORK
Christian Stroble is back. The stylist-designer will showcase his new bag line for “the modern-day dandy” at his private apartment in the Marais district during Paris Fashion Week, marking his return to design after the shuttering of his women’s ready-to-wear line in 2008.
The collection of six bags, which was “soft-launched” last season with the backing of Chicago-based financier Danny McGuinness, is already stocked at Barneys New York and Atrium, and will be upped by four additional styles, ranging from the document bag to the backpack.
Next to vegetable-tanned leather, treated in a mill to conjure a worn look, there will also be wax twill this time. “The idea is to be more reachable,” said Stroble. “And since our focus is on handmade in [the] U.S.A., that pushes the price up.” As it stands, the prices range from $800 for a sack bag to $2,000 for a weekender.
Stroble said he is also looking to build his e-commerce business, which should go online in two weeks. All bags are made-to-order, with a waiting period of two months.
— PAULINA SZMYDKE
Maison F is billed as the first and only French fashion label specializing in ties, bow ties, ascots, scarves and pocket squares. They are all made by hand and made-to-order in the last remaining tie atelier in Paris, where the craft dates back to the 17th century.
Founded in 2011 by François-Régis Laporte, a graduate of the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, Maison F’s playful patterns, ranging from polka dots to colorful checks, are immediate eye-catchers.
“The idea is to create something wearable that is not theatrical,” explained the designer, adding that a lot of his effort goes into research. Take the bow tie: Ready-tied or loose in intriguing shapes such as the “ivy leaf” or “mermaid,” it is equipped with a patented magnetic fastening system for a better fit.
The bestseller, however, is “the slim and short tie.” Four centimeters, or 1.6 inches, wide and 88 centimeters, or 34.6 inches, long, they can be worn two or three at a time.
At the Tranoï trade show, Maison F will unveil its collaboration with Paul & Joe for fall.
— PAULINA SZMYDKE
ROBERT CLERGERIE HOMME
After upping the fashion quotient of Robert Clergerie’s women’s designs, the luxury shoemaker’s creative director Roland Mouret is set to introduce the house’s first men’s collection — Robert Clergerie Homme — in Paris for fall. The collection, which will be unveiled in a presentation in Paris Friday, takes its cues from the archives of J. Fenestrier, the company-owned atelier in Romans, France, that started life in 1895 as a workshop creating custom men’s shoes. Designs include derby and oxford shoes and Chelsea boots, crafted with both sturdy Goodyear soles and more delicate Blake soles. Mouret has worked with lasts from the Twenties and Thirties to construct the shoes, noting that it was the “aerodynamic” look of the era’s footwear that appealed to him. The shoes also incorporate design elements inspired by the Eighties, such as contrasting matte and shiny leather details on one pair of black derby shoes. And to mark the launch of the men’s collection, six of the styles will be offered as Robert Clergerie women’s designs, too, for fall.
— NINA JONES