After a tour of three cities (Florence, Milan and Paris), some 60 catwalk presentations, and far too many nights out, we’ve finally reached the end. Menswear overload has occurred. Lanvin always shows first thing on the last day, and their secret for getting guests out of bed bright and early is simple: sweet treats and cool drinks to revive the spirits and replenish the reserves. The spread included frosted pistachio and carrot loaves, iced coffee, and jasmine green tea. Couldn’t have come at a better moment, either. Some of us didn’t wake up in time to eat breakfast. There was a strange dichotomy going on inside the classical-style Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts building (which features a glass ceiling, multiple arches, and marble sculptures throughout). Along the center of the catwalk ran a column of movie-set-sized lighting rigs, with exposed generators, cords, and cooling fans. It felt a bit like we were peeking behind the Great and Powerful Oz’s curtain.
Ever elegant, Lanvin’s models were dressed up in crisply tailored jackets and baggy pants, then crisply tailored jackets and short shorts, then crisply tailored pants with baggy tees or color-blocked short-sleeve shirts. Like I said, dichotomy. The bomber jacket (of which we’ve seen plenty this season) had been given a luxurious overhaul in rose pink with a thick elastic back band, and Messieurs Alber and Ossendrijver gave us some of the best loafers we’ve seen yet, which came with a contrast sole and a single silver buckle. Look out for those on the feet of the well-heeled next summer.
I always like Lanvin most when it’s at its least conceptual, and this season was filled with a plethora of wearable options. And so here goes nothing: I’m calling this one my favorite collection of the season.
In signature style, Paul Smith had created an all-pink catwalk on which to stage his SS14 show, around which trays of monogram shortbread cookies (very English) were passed before it all began. Now, either the models were painfully thin or a looser proportion was in the cards. Regardless, one thing was certain: We were looking at the late ’60s, when colors started to get a little kookier, tailoring got a little soft (and at times, weird), and John Lennon started wearing those circular mirror glasses.
Paul Smith never takes himself, his audience, or his clothes too seriously (cue a giant multicolored mushroom print on a sweater), and when it’s all done, he dances down the length of the runway with smiles for one and all. His music was some of the best we’ve heard, too, and thanks to Shazaam I can tell you it featured the Overboard Triptides, Jagwar, and the Australian band Tame Impala. All modern-day throwback psychedelia, the perfect soundtrack to summer.
The king of extreme themes, Thom Browne held his show at the Ecole Militaire, but being in central Paris, these barracks bore a closer resemblance to Notre Dame than a traditional American base. We were in the cavalry department, so naturally when the models walked down the stone corridor in their high-heel wingtips (yes, that’s right, high-heel wingtips), their footsteps made satisfying clippity-clop sounds just like ponies.
No doubt Mr. Browne will claim glorious military men as his inspiration, but with their powerfully shouldered jackets that pinched in at the waist then flared at the hip, there was something very Gestapo about the procession. Gestapo but camp — the models wore bright red lipstick with their uniforms.
A Thom Browne show is all spectacle, but when you pull it apart, you can usually find some gems within. Highlights included three-quarter-length officer coats, cropped bombers, and high buttoning (as in, all the way to the top) tuxedo jackets worn with bow ties. The final outfit had a 10-foot train that was carried by two footmen, who walked the model front-and-center and then erected a white flag as The Beatles’ All You Need Is Love blasted from the speakers. That’s one way to say peace.
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