Paris menswear displays ended Sunday with a flourish of flowing jackets, schoolboy bow-ties and profusely pleated pants as designers here refused to bow to the gloomy recession aesthetic that has cast a pall over other fashion capitals.
French label Lanvin put its money not on pinstripes or other business-friendly fabrics but sumptuous woolen knits that billowed or clung to the body in soft waves, creating a sensuous, romantic look.
Across town, Dior Homme was all hard lines and sharp angles.
Although the house sent out mostly black suits — a menswear staple in hard times — its innovative tailoring pushed the look forward.
British designer Paul Smith staged an energetic show that drew inspiration from the mischievous English schoolboy.
Throughout menswear week, which began on Thursday, other Paris designers also put flight and fancy above pure pocketbook concerns.
Highlights included John Galliano — who sent out models made up as Pan, the man-goat hybrid — and Givenchy, with its medieval sadomasochist look.
Black suits that were anything but boring dominated at Dior Homme.
Asymmetrical cuts, strap and metalwork closures and heaps of pleats created an edgy, bold silhouette that played on volumes and contrast.
Designer Kris van Assche — who in 2007 replaced Hedi Slimane, the creator of the ultra-slim suit that was the house’s star piece — dared to go big, sending out billowy pants that bucked the overall trend in the Paris menswear shows toward slim trousers. A plethora of pleats fanning out from the low-slung waist band gave the pants an almost bubble cut through the hips and thighs.
Jackets dispensed with buttons, with one often asymmetrical flap closing over the another with hooks or graphic straps.
Turtlenecks, a recurring favorite at the Paris shows, were given a graphic twist. Cut in stiff white broadcloth, the generously draped necks stood straight up with contrasting black lining on the inside.
The entire show was black and white, and the closest thing to gray was a double-breasted overcoat in black and white bouclee.
French actress Beatrice Dalle praised the collection, which she called “really nice, really sober.”
“Although sobriety is not necessarily what I look for in a man,” Dalle said with a smile.
The English schoolboy, with his tweed-heavy wardrobe and penchant for irreverent mixing and matching, had the run of the catwalk.
The collection was whimsical and fun even if Smith, whose flair for giving classics a twist has won him a worldwide following, didn’t stray far from his label’s hallmark style.
Tweed professor blazers were paired with slim plaid trousers and smart wool jackets were worn over cycling jerseys in bright primary colors. Flashes of hot pink lining peeked out from a blazer in oatmeal-colored houndstooth.
Bow-ties largely replaced conventional neckties, somehow managing to look dapper and not too out of place on the teenage models.
The same cannot be said for the show’s clunky plastic eyeglasses.
Those wearing the heavy, Clark Kent-style frames looked as if they were itching to rip off the nerd gear and re-emerge in tights and spandex.