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This story first appeared in the October 12, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Y-3, the collaboration between Adidas and Yohji Yamamoto, took inspiration for its show from the 2010 World Cup. The clothes, which boasted patriotic insignias and colors, were not inspired by team uniforms, but by the fans, Yamamoto said backstage. So it was only fitting the most unforgettable player of the last World Cup, France’s Zinedine Zidane, took part. At the end of the show, a net dropped down and six of the female models took feeble shots on goal before Zidane, joined by Yohji Yamamoto, showed them all how it’s done. Applause! Backstage, the retired player said he had no plans to get involved in soccer again. Asked to predict the next World Cup winner, he gave the safest possible answer: “Je ne sais pas.”
THRILLER’S LAST RIDE
Just as fans staged a massive moonwalk on the Champs de Mars in Paris on June 26, so, too, did designers pay their respects to Michael Jackson after the music icon died. Paul Smith and his models boogied down the runway to “Thriller.” Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, meanwhile, said his dapper-rapper styles paid tribute to Jackson with metal-festooned shirts in shimmering gold and cropped tuxedo jackets. In New York, the soundtrack for the Y-3 show was national anthems and Jackson songs, a credit to their global appeal. Back in Paris, celebrities at the shows also were visibly distraught at the news of Jackson’s death on June 25. “It’s a great loss. I’ve taken it very, very hard,” said Usher at Rick Owens, adding he was still reeling from the shock. “We worked a lot together, we actually performed together one time. We’ve seen each other a lot over the years.” Of Jackson’s contribution to the worlds of both music and fashion, Usher said: “It would have been so much more.”
THOM BROWNE, PROVOCATEUR
The ever-controversial Thom Browne took some barbs this season for a show that seemed more absurdist than ever, partly because of a lack of context or showmanship. There was no choreography, no set design, no theme—just a simple procession through the designer’s bare Tribeca store, putting the clothes in a harsh light. Browne heaped a hodgepodge of kooky sportswear and accessories on top of his avant-garde tailoring and obvious showpieces, such as a fish-tail tuxedo covered in black paillettes. A neoprene microskort, anyone? A polka-dotted halter romper? And don’t forget the lipstick. Perhaps it’s a credit to Browne that, after several years of smashing taboos—first with exposed ankles and shrunken suits, then with more extreme proportions, femininity and deadpan perversity—these notions failed to shock or amuse this time around. He did accomplish an about-face from the fascist uniformity of his last show, and from his signature shrunken suit. His new suit has round shoulders, wider sleeves and swingy, cuffed trousers. And to be sure, some critics applauded Browne’s unwavering audacity. He has always sought to elicit strong reactions—love it or hate it. He got his wish.
Come rain or shine, the show must go on—as Dries Van Noten proved in Paris. Having planned to seat his guests on the sunny steps of the Palais Brongniart, the Belgian designer moved the crowd last minute under the arcades of the historic financial institution, just in time to avoid a torrential downpour. While the fashion flock squeezed together to dodge raindrops, Van Noten’s DJ dodged a penalty, spinning recent radio hits from the bed of a truck, despite the lack of a music permit, to deafen the sleepy business neighborhood.
Whatever their meaning, if any, the gold logos and reptile motifs that pervaded Raf Simons’ enigmatic collection created a stir in a sumptuous Paris 7th arrondissement garden, where the show was set. Theories as to what the gold R’s and S’s emblazoned on the backsides of jeans and the coiling snake motifs on trousers or transparent shirts might mean extended from biblical allusions to riffs on conspicuous consumption—or simply experimentation. But the designer wasn’t giving anything away, evading questions after the show. “There’s a bit of everything. It is what it is,” Simons said.
Four seasons ago when Angela Missoni tacked men’s wear to her creative duties, taking over from her brother, Luca, little did she imagine she would enjoy it so much. Backstage, just minutes before the show, a bronzed and smiley Missoni described how she was inspired by a dreamy globe-trotter, one who “travels extensively and mixes the various cultures.” The theme might not be groundbreaking, but in Missoni’s hands, the melting-pot references looked edgy and modern. Moreover, the collection further underscored how the designer is succeeding in turning the house’s distinctive, and at times challenging, signatures into hip, modern garb. Africa, India, China and England were all tossed into the mix as Missoni delivered endless variations of one look—crinkled outerwear breezily layered over cotton shirts and rolled-up checkered pants or faded jeans, paired with the house’s signature knits. This eclectic wardrobe with a grungy undercurrent is spring’s passport for a new-generation Missoni man.
With fewer top celebs, athletes got plenty of front-row play this season in Europe. Five swimmers from the Italian national team—Nicola Cassio, Paolo Bossini, Emiliano Brembilla, Alessandro Terrin and Mirko Di Tora— who are the faces (and bodies) of the new Dolce & Gabbana underwear ad campaign for spring, sat front row at the house’s runway show, as did Belarusian boxer Andrei Arlovski, who is known affectionately as “The Pitbull.” Meanwhile, bike trial world champion Vittorio Brumotti made a grand entrance at Emporio Armani, riding down the bleachers and onto the runway to perform—shirtless—dazzling tricks only inches from guests. Elsewhere, 76ers basketball star Andre Iguodala warmed the front bench at Ferragamo, while French soccer ace Yoann Gourcuff and U.S. fencing champ Jason Rogers were at Louis Vuitton. Rogers, who didn’t walk the Vuitton runway as planned, said, “I have really strong legs. The clothes are not built for fencers. There’s a niche.”
The GQ and Details parties in Milan posed a perpetual conflict for guests, as both took place on the first night of shows. The common solution was to attend both, if either, so as not to offend. Details tended to be the first stop, since the venue, the Bulgari Hotel garden, was threatened by rain. But both events were practically petting zoos of designers and models. Among those making the rounds: Tom Ford, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, Gucci’s Frida Giannini, Bottega Veneta’s Tomas Maier, Calvin Klein’s Italo Zucchelli, Angela Missoni, Dan and Dean Caten, Neil Barrett and Kean Etro.
WHEELS AND DEALS
Men tend to like things with motors, so there were shiny hot rods, tricked-out RV campers and even a massive 18-wheeler truck sprinkled around the MAGIC apparel trade show, with brands hoping to catch the attention of time-pressed buyers. One of the most eye-catching wheeled displays was at Christian Audigier—one of the gaudiest showmen at the expo—where the designer installed his favorite vintage motorcycle dealer, Los Angeles–based Garage Company, whose single mechanic built a gleaming new bike from the ground up every day of the show. Each morning, Kiyo Mitsuhiro started with an array of parts on the floor and methodically conjured up a vintage Harley-Davidson over the course of the day. Garage Company has custom built 16 bikes for Audigier himself over the years, and boasts Orlando Bloom, Olivier Martinez and retired Formula One racing champion Michael Schumacher among its celebrity clientele. The company only builds vintage bikes, which range from about $25,000 to $45,000, using old parts from Harley-Davidson, Indian, Triumph, Ducati, BMW, Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha, among other brands. “I have no interest in new bikes. There’s no passion in a new bike. Old bikes have so much personality,” said Yoshi Kosaka, a former Tokyo-based dental technician who founded the company in 1987 after moving to the U.S. Kosaka bought his first motorcycle at age 14 and now owns more than 100 vintage models. His favorite? An Italian-made MV Agusta.
CLEAN AND LEAN
It’s no secret that Frida Giannini is a music fanatic (she boasts a collection of hundreds of vinyl records) and that she built her image of the Gucci man and woman through music. New Wave, Eighties flash or disco bling have alternately appeared in Giannini’s shows, but spring was an exception. Giannini changed her tune and found inspiration in the midcentury architecture of Oscar Niemeyer, who designed many public buildings in Brasília, Brazil. That meant clean and lean silhouettes, sans the usual glitz, in white cotton jacquards and piqués, accessorized with vintage Seventies patterns on shirts and ties. Tossed in between was a plethora of sportswear in neoprene and nylon, and a group of wholesome handmade intarsia sweaters with folkloric patterns that Giannini put over skinny jeans. Just because the designer kept a more restrained hand is not to say these clothes are for wallflower types: They contained just the right amount of edgy sexiness.
BACK IN TIME
He may be a newcomer to the men’s calendar, but Alexis Mabille went back in time for his debut men’s runway, opting for an early-morning show at landmark cafe Angelina—complete with Champagne, hot chocolate and cakes—where a speaker described each outfit in French and English, as in the old days of couture. Dubbing the collection “a day in the life of a mischievous dandy,” Mabille’s bow-tied man was as daring and provocative as he was preppy and bourgeois. Bejeweled high-tops and gleaming brocade robes certainly aren’t for every man, but marinestriped cardigans, high-waist Bermudas, piqué shirts worn with bow ties behind the collar and tailored suits in Op Art–inspired prints brought a welcome playfulness to the week.
TOMMY’S IN THE HOUSE
Tommy Hilfiger has some pretty cool friends. Everyone from Naomi Watts, Emily Blunt, Sarah Ferguson and January Jones to Mary-Louise Parker, Becki Newton and Mena Suvari turned out during New York Fashion Week to help the designer christen his global flagship at 54th Street and Fifth Avenue. The 22,000-square-foot, four-level store, which cost in the tens of millions to build, is truly one of the highlights of Hilfiger’s storied 25-year fashion career. Although the company operates nearly 1,000 stores around the world—and 10 others in the U.S.—this store is viewed as a real anchor for the brand. “This is a pinnacle moment,” Hilfiger said of the unit, which boasts hand-painted toile wallpaper in the dressing rooms and an eclectic array of antique and custom-made furniture to complement the men’s and women’s apparel selection. “We wanted this to be our stage to the world.”
Designers made a splash this season with swimming-related shows to help wet palates in the front row. For his own freestyle interpretation of the travels of Napoleon Bonaparte, John Galliano staged his runway in an abandoned pool to the delight of guests including rising French actress Fanny Valette and Diesel founder Renzo Rosso. First inaugurated in 1929, the Piscine Molitor, in the 16th arrondissement, was idled 25 years ago and since has been a playground for what seems like every graffiti artist in town. Meanwhile, Moncler Gamme Bleu showed at Piscina Cozzi, a Mussoliniera indoor swimming pool in Milan. A squad of models lined up in white cloaks and goggles before 20 of them disrobed and commenced swimming laps for the duration of the catwalking.
LIM FOR HIM
3.1 Phillip Lim had its first stand-alone presentation for men’s wear, which the company launched in 2007. “It’s time to stop ignoring half the world’s population,” said Lim. To show the vulnerable, humanist side of men, he wanted the most intimate setting—a home. So a spartan and somehow poignant set of rooms was built to frame the neo-beatnik writers, poets and artists of his imagination. Yet there was nothing throwback about this utterly modern collection. Determined to peel away the armorlike traditional layers of Western male dress, Lim proposed a double-breasted jacket that renders a shirt and tie superfluous. Meanwhile, leather T-shirts ruled out the need for jackets. Inspired by the make-do spirit of the Depression era, Lim designed trousers with adjustable foldover waists that evoked Eastern silhouettes and the beatniks’ wanderlust. Fabric patterns included a broken windowpane check and an Abstract Expressionist splatter print. But the presentation was dominated by solid neutrals that simply let the chic proportions do the talking. And what they said was subversive, indeed: global designer fashion at a homegrown contemporary price.
GET YOUR Z’s
Ermenegildo Zegna’s prodigal son, Alessandro Sartori, creative director of the Z Zegna label, returned to the Milan runways and breathed freshness into the label’s “street dandy” collection for spring. After two years of showing during New York Fashion Week, Sartori brought Z Zegna back to its roots and underscored Zegna chief executive officer Gildo Zegna’s ambitions for the brand. Plans might include a Peter Marino–designed concept store for the Z Zegna label. Held in the sumptuous Ermenegildo Zegna headquarters, Sartori’s modern-day Dorian Grays, dressed to the nines in beautifully tailored clothing, closed Milan Fashion Week with an innovative flair.
THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH
Las Vegas felt like a circus again, and not just because retailers and vendors, buoyed by renewed optimism, seemed happy to return to the old trade show routine of buying, selling and partying. There was an actual circus, too. Showgoers at MAGIC were taken by surprise when a motley group of jugglers, acrobats and a stilt walker took to the Convention Center floor. Turns out the performers were promoting the remake of Alice in Wonderland, a Tim Burton film that hits theaters in the spring, and a related line of jewelry designed by CFDA award winner Tom Binns, who is producing two collections inspired by characters in the classic Lewis Carroll story.
Charlize Theron at Dior, Gwen Stefani at Bloomingdale’s and Victoria Beckham at Bergdorf Goodman were some of the more glittery celebrities lighting up New York stores for Fashion’s Night Out—but fashionable guys also got into the act. Justin Timberlake drew hundreds of fans to Saks Fifth Avenue, where he promoted his William Rast denim and sportswear label. “It’s nice to shake hands with people and say thanks,” said Timberlake of his meet-and-greet. “Actually, it’s the feedback that I’m most looking forward to. I like hearing from people.” Fashion’s Night Out—which included events in cities around the world on September 10, meant to help jump-start retail sales—also drew Hugh Jackman to Jeffrey and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to a Macy’s in Queens. At Barneys New York, men’s designer Thom Browne mingled with customers before heading downtown to introduce his new Black Fleece fragrance at that label’s boutique in the West Village. In SoHo, hundreds of streetwear fans lined up on Greene Street to see hip-hop artist Kid Cudi play from his new album at the Bape store, and in the Meatpacking District, an appreciative crowd ogled a risqué burlesque show courtesy of Hugo Boss. Nearby at the Helmut Lang store, designers Nicole and Michael Colovos worked oneon-one with shoppers to design custom-made leather jackets. And at Theory, company president Andrew Rosen marveled at the jubilant, carnival atmosphere created by the hundreds of retail events and thousands of shoppers on the streets. “It’s hard to actually shop tonight with everything going on,” he noted. “But I think this brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm that will mean shopping down the road.”