Tuesday, September 27, 2022 | Safar 30, 1444 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Fashion Dispenses a Happy Little Pill

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It probably isn’t surprising that a current of conservatism was seen in the menswear shows here, a link connecting storied labels like Dior and Hermès, where designers Kim Jones and Véronique Nichanian produced fall collections that highlighted their design chops by doubling down on heritage.


An inveterate and lifelong traveller (he has often said he works mainly to bankroll his wanderlust), Jones often operates within a geographic thematic. Last season, it was a collaboration with Travis Scott, inspired by the rapper’s Houston hometown. (The collection was postponed indefinitely after the Astroworld tragedy.) This time Jones detoured to safer territory and, for a 75th-anniversary homage to the house at Dior Men, chose as his destination — drumroll — Paris.


Jones’ City of Light was conjured as a place of Gallic elegance and refinement with a set that not only reproduced the gilded Pont Alexandre III bridge for its backdrop but went on to mine just about every French cliché in the postcard rack.


Think (gorgeously) tailored coats of slate or dove gray, some with a complicated draped wrap at the front. Think blazer coats with white overstitching and cut as if to reveal the selvage edge of the fabric. Think sling-back suede Birkenstocks patterned on the soles with the Dior logo. Think, for Pete’s sake, berets.


True, the berets were the work of Stephen Jones, an inspired British hatter who has worked with Dior for a quarter-century. True also, tourist shops all along the Rue de Rivoli still sell 5-euro versions of this felt pancake for your head. Yet there is no avoiding the fact that Parisians wearing berets are rarer than Parisians walking down the street with baguettes tucked under their arms.


Nichanian, too, plays on these French idioms, although at an even more elevated (and pricier) level. Season after season, she makes clothes suitable for the clientele of a brand that started in 1837 as a saddlery and remains a purveyor of goods for a traditional carriage trade. (Well, sort of: The company’s vaunted Birkin, the Brabus of handbags, has now been joined by the Rock, a new and jacked-up version ostensibly for guys.)


The presentation was held in a national storehouse for furniture and against a backdrop of projected tapestries from state collections, and before it, Nichanian spoke to some journalists about her intended “dandy effect.” Conceivably, that means a collection generally pitched towards the younger guys everyone in the business has been trying to advance from hoodies to suits. Here one was rendered in a two-button calfskin with a wide leg that made you wish Miles Davis were alive to rock one. Davis, though, would certainly take one of those silk cashmere scarves that Nichanian substituted for a cravat and knot it outside his shirt.


Elsewhere on the roster were designers with all kinds of promise but also with positions and ideas. At GmbH, Serhat Isik and Benjamin Huseby produced a finely tailored collection that seemed destined, as usual, to influence designers at much larger houses. Whoever cast Virgil Abloh’s final, and predictably mournful, collection for Louis Vuitton, for instance, must have had an eye on GmbH’s runways. — NYT


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