Kenzo sends out good vibrations at Paris menswear shows

PARIS, June 25, 2011 (AFP) -Antonio Marras delivered a Hawaiian punch at the ongoing Paris menswear shows on Saturday with a tropical-flavoured Kenzo collection all juiced up for hitting the surf.

Kenzo
Kenzo - SS 2012 / Photo : Pixel Formula

To a pulsating Beach Boys mix, Marras -- creative director at the Japanese label since 2009 -- sent out a rainbow of outfits from fuchsia and turquoise to canary yellow and burgundy shades of red.

"It's a guy who's going on vacation," said Marras backstage, defining the Kenzo man for next spring and summer prior to the 1960s-themed show in the naturally-lit gymnasium of a Paris high school.

"He's quit Paris to go to Miami or Havana, Saint Tropez, Portofino or Capri," he said. "He's thrown his city wardrobe, his office wardrobe, into the trash can and switched to a Hawaiian shirt."

Given the holiday motif, the poker-faced models could have looked a bit more cheerful, but Marras closed the show on a festive note with soap bubbles raining down from the rafters.

For Christian Dior Homme, Kris Van Aasche expanded on his fall-winter collection with structured outfits that reflected the Belgian-born designer's "less is more" philosophy.

"I wanted a combination of art, or tailoring, and real life," he said backstage, and he delivered with sharply cut jackets, pleated-front shirts and trousers cuffed well above the ankle to expose leather desert boots.

Carried over from fall-winter were wide-brimmed Amish hats.

In a break with tradition, "this was the first time at Dior Homme when the first 40 looks were not black," but rather cream, grey-green and "petroleum blue," Van Aasche told reporters. "I think it's fresh."

Australian actress Emily Browning, in the front row with actor boyfriend Max Irons, saw an angular quality in the collection. "It was almost a guy's version of Celine," she told AFP.

One eye-catching detail were reversible buttons, sewn inside out with rings exposed, an idea that Van Aasche borrowed from ceremonial military uniforms.

Among other VIPs at Dior was designer Karl Lagerfeld, who clearly enjoyed showing off a glossy black Chanel quilted iPad clutch that featured an outer pocket for his iPhone.

In the perfect summer-evening setting of the gardens of the Couvent des Cordeliers on the Left Bank, longtime Hermes designer Veronique Nichanian went for elegance in navy, Hussar blue, clay, ochre and tile shades.

Seersucker was among Nichanian's favourite fabrics for next summer, used in double-breasted jackets and drawstring trousers that suggested pyjama-like ease and comfort.

Those who want the intellectual look will want to consider turtleneck pullovers in white or navy crepe wool, while the more daring could go for a lambskin T-shirt and matching Bermuda shorts.

Hermes being Hermes, several outfits were smartly rounded out with label's watches, weekend bags and signature "imprimeur fou coaching" scarves.

For French label Smalto, Swiss-born Youn Chong Bak married accessible silhouettes with elegant detailing, such as double embroidery along the length of lapels and crocodile-skin shoulder flaps on trench coats.

Ending the show on a crowd-pleasing note were matching father-and-son tuxedos, with applause going out to a rather traumatised curly-haired lad called upon to model the wedding-day look.

The Paris menswear shows wrap up on Sunday with Lanvin, Paul Smith and Thom Browne showing, and Rynshu promising Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.I.Am as one of its models.

by Robert MacPherson

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