A larger-than-life take on Grecian culture, the year 1995, an “Arctic gentleman” and a wardrobe of jerkins, doublets and pourpoints brought forward in time are some of the ideas being tabled by designers in Paris for fall 2023.
Here, a look at some of the newer names on the Paris calendar.
As much as Naomi Gunther is a Parisian born and bred, it’s a New York state of mind that led to the creation of her menswear label.
“When I moved [there] for my fashion studies, I found the [city’s] energy to be the most inspiring,” said the 27-year-old, who studied literature in the French capital before switching to fashion and heading to New York. “The way men were dressing, combining clothes together, playing with size, layers, new shapes” captivated her and led her to switch to the menswear program in her final year at The New School’s Parsons School of Design.
Gunther said her artistic references were two-pronged, rooted on the one hand in the early 20th century and particularly the Gilded Age of New York. Central to this period for her are the figures of Jay Gatsby as the epitome of the American dream, and debonaire gangsters with their attitude and class. On the other is the hip-hop culture of the late 1970s and ‘80s, along with streetwear, which she described as a mix and match of accessible clothing hinged on dressing up those pieces and exploring new ways to wear them.
Cue collections that revisit menswear mainstays of golf pants, pinstripe suits and cardigans with of-the-moment elements taken from more recent urban fare, like baggy pants, varsity jackets or tracksuits.
Now in her seventh season, titled “1995” after her year of birth, she’ll be exploring the 1990s and the visuals that have influenced her artistic culture, from the beginnings of the internet and paparazzi culture to ubiquitous screens and her first memories of travel. Nineties iconography will also influence details such as buttons and prints.
The brand produces its collections in Paris, with retail prices ranging from 130 euros for premium cotton T-shirts and 295 euros for denim trousers, and up to 790 euros for a reversible puffer jacket and 1,100 euros for a recycled wool coat.
For Seoul- and London-based designer Juntae Kim, the apparent incompatibility between modern garments rooted in functionality and sustainability, and ostensibly fussy historical garments like corsets, doublets and jerkins, is a source of constant fascination.
So much so that he first spent four years earning a bachelor’s degree in womenswear in South Korea, before heading to London for another two-year BA at London College of Fashion and later, Central Saint Martins’ menswear MA course.
Describing his namesake brand as a gender-fluid clothing line, the South Korean-born designer explained he “aims to modernize old and historical textiles and craft techniques,” fusing them into activewear and sportswear shapes of the present to make them available to “diverse communities regardless of race, gender and class.” Also in his sights are stereotypical Asian tropes, which he plans to subvert in a further bid for integration, he said.
Cue denim trousers with a corseted front, jerkin-shaped flight jackets and other slashed puffers from his 2022 MA collection and subsequent “Garden Punk” spring 2023 collection, which garnered raves along with the attention of heavy hitters like Dua Lipa and stylist Harry Lambert.
The fall 2023 collection, titled “Romantic Poetry,” takes its cues from the 1989 film “Dead Poets Society,” starring Robin Williams as an English teacher inspiring students through poetry.
It revisits the film’s formal school uniforms and preppy aesthetic through Kim’s lens. Expect a smart Canadian tuxedo in a salmon-pink denim wash, lavaliere shirts in crisp poplin, thick-gauge knit polo shirts, all augmented with the pourpoints, corsets and other doublets of centuries past. Prices will start around 450 pounds for tops and go up to 1,200 pounds for Kim’s intricately detailed technical outerwear.
After more than a decade leading the menswear design studios of Tom Ford, Brioni, Givenchy and Burberry, working alongside “big, amazing characters” like Ford and Riccardo Tisci, London-based designer Jasper Toron found the onset of the pandemic offered something new: time to reflect.
“I just thought that if there ever was the right time to step out and go at it on my own, it was [the pandemic],” said the Danish-born designer, who proceeded to spend “two, three months alone with [his] bookshelves to figure out what [he] found beautiful and what [his] aesthetic was.”
What Toron concluded he wanted the most was to “free himself up but also make clothes that have an element of freedom to them,” stemming from the feeling of liberation he’d felt when he chose a menswear path at London’s Ravensbourne University.
Add his happy place — “on a Greek island, where I allow myself to be a bit more loud or flamboyant, wearing silky, blousy things” — and his brand was born.
Echoes of Julian Schnabel’s “anti-reality pajama uniform” influence a louche lineup rife with silk shirts, lightweight windbreakers, shorts and even overalls printed in sophisticated designs nodding to Greco-Roman motifs of wrestlers, plants or geometric friezes.
Part and parcel of that freedom is also considering a wider range of body shapes. “I’m a pretty big guy myself and that is limiting in many ways when it comes to clothes,” he said. Hence the profusion of drawstring waists but also his penchant for roomy cuts, available in six sizes and that he hopes “should cover from XS to a 4-XL.”
The first full-fledged Toron collection will continue to explore “an Aegean vacation daydream and a love letter to the male body” by pushing his pattern clashing further and adding warmer layers like wool jackets for a buildable wardrobe, retailing between 350 pounds for cotton shirts and up to 850 pounds for silk separates adorned in his maximalist prints.
Examine an archetypal male body long enough and the geometric shapes that compose it start to emerge: a trapeze to represent a wide shoulder and smaller waist, the curve of a bulky bicep or even a sharp V-shape at the base of the neck.
And that comes easiest when you’re faced with your base material in the mirror every day. “I connected with menswear because I always start from myself when trying to share my view on fashion,” explained Hong Kong-based designer Karmuel Young.
Upon graduating from Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University in 2007, Young moved to Europe, working at Damir Doma and Ute Ploier, experiences he credits with teaching him how to “build a collection with a core idea” and eventually a designer label.
After further experiences at Lane Crawford and the I.T. and Trinity groups, the designer launched his brand in 2014, first as a footwear line and then ready-to-wear in 2019.
His angle? To “sculpt a better silhouette for men” through a daily wardrobe that enhances, plays with and sometimes distorts the body’s geometries. Fabrication, fitting and finessing details are therefore the three tenets of this label exploring a territory between tailoring and casualwear that Young dubs the “New Formal.”
Congruent with this idea of the everyday, Young decided to develop his brand as themed projects that can straddle multiple seasons, rather than change tack every six months.
Now in his eighth collection, the Hong Kong-based designer continues spring’s surreal desert jaunt with a fall 2023 collection based on the idea of an “Arctic gentleman.” Expect tailoring with accents of furry, hairy fabrics; a play on scale with overly tight and oversize fits, and coated fabrics, to represent the various textures observed on ice.
Shirting, the brand’s key category, starts from $300 to $1,000 for intricate cuts and fabrications that turn them into outerwear proposals, while trousers average around $500.