Yesterday at Paris Men's Fashion Week, Jean Paul Gaultier and Yohji Yamamoto sent shock waves through the world when a veritable flood of facial hair spurted onto their spring 2011 runways. These were not the too-groomed goatees and soul patches of 22-year-old boys, or the befuddling upper-lip caterpillars of politicians and financiers. These were quite old-fashioned, quite serious, and not a product of adolescent self-discovery or a wanting more hair somewhere amid midlife balding. Beards were thick and unkempt at Gaultier, where the setting for the show — a comment "on the European’s relationship to Saharan Africa," according to Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn — was Turkish baths.
At Yamamoto, beards were also full, but with the texture of cotton candy, complemented by thick, distinguished mustaches with handlebars that Horyn estimates reference the eighteenth century. So what of fashion's embrace of facial hair? Perhaps these designers are saying that if you want a beard or a 'stache, don't be wimpy and grow it in thin patches, carefully trimmed so that it projects the right amount of lazy to go with your rumpled plaid shirt. Go all out, and let people know that when you enter the room, you do so beard first.
Whiskers, Kittens [On the Runway/NYT]