The menswear reviews are in from Paris — the praise is high and the blows are low.
Cathy Horyn of the Times panned Riccardo Tisci's Morocco-inspired spring collection, which received coolly positive reviews from most other critics. She deemed it a "lazy, pretentious, overwrought collection" that struck her as the "work of a stylist, rather than the specific vision of a designer." (In an earlier blog entry, she bitingly associated the collection with "footballers who wear free designer clothes.") Tim Blanks of Style.com disagreed, countering that despite occasionally overwrought tailoring, Tisci "loosened up — mostly" and coordinated his ambition with reality. Though Suzy Menkes of the Times mused that Tisci "may be trying too hard to be a creative force," she praised his "vision and courage to go for it." WWD noted an homage to Michael Jackson (for whom Tisci was reportedly designing costumes before his death) and Axl Rose in the spangled gold shirts and bejeweled red tartans, plus gold rings "shoved on each of the models' fingers for an added boost of bling." Fashion Wire Daily's Godfrey Deeny praised the designer's "deeply fertile imagination," asserting that he deftly combined a "Bronx biker" silhouette with a "Tuscan soldier mood." But most all rallied around the diverse model casting ("behemoths compared to other designers' scrawny youths," Deeny noted approvingly), which Style.com felt lent a "ferociously sexy athleticism."
Watch a slideshow and video of the Givenchy menswear collection.
Designer Paul Helbers was influenced by New York bike messengers for his spring collection, calling them the "gentlemen butterflies" of the city. "Ah, the romance of fashion," sighed Tim Blanks. "Your local bike messenger is probably a scrawny, over-inked meth head with bad hair ... " Though Godfrey Deeny found the clothes "inventive" and "thought-provoking," he concluded that the biker comparison was "something of a stretch" for a luxury brand, offering, "it should be called Louis Vuitton Sport." British Vogue loved the "bright, bright, bright" opening looks, deeming the collection "one of the most summery" of the week. But despite fairly positive reviews, the futuristic, functional clothes were arguably overshadowed by the accessories in the eyes of the critics. "What's a messenger without his bag?" asked WWD, admiring the oversize ostrich-leather backpacks. Suzy Menkes called the luxe messengers "100 percent classic Gallic Vuitton," and Tim Blanks concurred: "I could barely tear my eyes away from the bags."
Watch a slideshow and video of the Louis Vuitton menswear collection.
The critics heaped praise upon Lanvin's strong spring collection, which Godfrey Deeny called a double whammy — "probably the coolest collection of clothes in the most assuredly staged show." Most all reviews noted the collection's typically feminine flourishes: WWD observed that the show challenged traditional notions of masculinity with "overtly feminine" elements — platinum-blond wigs and high-waisted, pleated pants — and British Vogue admired the "jewel hues so often prevalent in womenswear." Suzy Menkes applauded the tight-waisted pants, as well as other "innovative silhouettes," like melon-shaped sleeves on a belted coat. The critics uniformly lauded Elbaz's gender-bending touches as daring. Tim Blanks felt the glamorous details were "keeping with the whisper of transgression" that marks the label's menswear, and WWD agreed that the collection "successfully countered today's uniform culture."
The critics applauded Dries Van Noten's worldly, wildly patterned collection, which incorporated brilliant fabrics from around the world. Godfrey Deeny hailed it as a "triumph of the new understated sophistication ... where subtlety not sass counted." Style.com's Tim Blanks admired the "soft, sinuous" and "artisanal" plaids and mosaic prints that conveyed the sense of an experienced traveler "cherry-picking from a vast range of global delights." And Suzy Menkes praised Van Noten for keeping the collection "real for urban streets rather than migrating to an ethnic netherland." The main critique was that the clothes were unfit for the office: "One could only guess where this worldly fellow was going in the clothes," WWD shrugged, "but it surely wasn't a financial institution." But most deemed the eccentric prints well styled and wearable — or, as Blanks concluded, "nirvana for Van Noten fans."
Watch a slideshow of the Dries Van Noten menswear collection.
Gaultier's spring collection divided the critics. British Vogue noted a "saritorial nod to the sixties" in the coral and orange color-blocking and graphic lines, and though Suzy Menkes called it a "neat riff on straight lines," she found "nothing so new about the collection" as a whole. WWD admired the denim with bright-red stitching — a collaboration with Levi's — including a pair of jeans with bondage straps (" ... as with most things Gaultier, there's no such thing as too much.") But both WWD and Tim Blanks got hung up on Gaultier's defiant "gender games." "Perhaps it was budget (or maybe just plain old perversity) that this time around dictated a denim bustier on a male model," mused Blanks (he suggested calling it a "chestier"), also criticizing a "sheer Joan Crawford" jacket worn with a "man bra." While WWD found the show fresh, bright, and bold overall, it felt that "the cool minimalism was often overshadowed by cross-dressing."
Watch a slideshow of the Jean Paul Gaultier menswear collection.