The Five Major Takeaways From Paris Fashion Week Men’s SS20

Hedi Slimane closed out Paris Fashion Week Men’s SS20 with a beautiful collection in which the designer switched gears after a year as creative director of Celine. Bonjour blue denim and text-based graphics! However, the rock and roll aesthetic and penchant for pale, almost anemic-looking casting remained more or less the same.

But what about the rest of the week? If Spring/Summer 2019 has been awash with tie-dye prints, enduring ’90s references, and loose shorts, what should we look forward to in Spring/Summer 2020?

Below, we’ve rounded up the five major takeaways from Paris Fashion Week Men’s SS20, so you can know exactly what to expect when brands’ new wares start landing at retailers next year. Expect a dose of androgyny, cozy tailoring, some bold, Instagram-friendly accessories, and more.

Menswear, Womenswear, What’s the difference?

Sure, it was Paris Fashion Week Men’s, but what does that even mean? You’d be forgiven for thinking the biggest trend of SS20 is the dismantling of gender itself. Because more than ever, menswear is channeling a vibe that is basically, well, womenswear. As flippant as it sounds to refer to gender identity as a fashion trend, it’s worth remembering that, as an industry informed by visual codes, presentation, and perception, fashion is a fertile ground for igniting discussion.

The current wave was put into motion in SS19, starting with accessories. Handbags, nice ones you’d actually want, started appearing on menswear runways in volumes not unlike those found in women’s collections. This is great news for brands that have historically made their largest profits in leather goods, and great news for men who want to carry shit around without leaning on a cross-body bag (too obvious), a chest-rig (too played-out), or a rucksack (too schoolboy).

Raf Simons, liberated from his dip into Calvin Klein’s commerciality, gave us long raw-hemmed tunics in daisy yellow and purple for SS20. When layered with various chunky knits, as Simons is wont to do, they delivered feminine, dress-like silhouettes. In fact, at this point, they’re simply dresses, and with heaps of drug references and subcultural visual cues, they looked fire as hell.

Elsewhere, Rick Owens added his signature glam-rock touch to the genderless discourse with a pair of sky-high platform heels that pushed his already-spindly models about 6 inches higher off the ground. Meanwhile, Ludovic de Saint Sernin showed silky wraparound pieces in his wet and wild collection, which posited typically feminine silhouettes and fabrics as a congruous extension of male sexuality.

Many brands integrated their men’s and womenswear this season, with sacai creative director Chitose Abe, for example, highlighting how similar the brand’s men’s and women’s pieces actually are.

Pinks, Purples & Pastels

The January FW19 shows were heavy on animal print and tie-dye, giving us a current street style that looks a lot like this. For SS20, we saw a slightly more homogenous color palette emerge, dominated by pinks, purples, pastels, and shimmery mother-of-pearl coating.

Rick Owens, an unquestioned bastion of all things black and gray, flipped the script with a range of iridescent hooded overcoats, zipped pants, and jumpsuits for his SS20 “Tecuatl” show. Chinese label Sankuanz played with cowboy aesthetics in a lick of royal purple, reinterpreting a rugged masculine archetype as something more appropriate for an urban setting — with some tribal tattoo patterning, too, if you’re into that.

Let’s not forget that the concept of men wearing pink was actually invented by Cam’ron in 2002, when he wore pink mink fur to a Baby Phat show, giving us one of the most iconic street style images of all time. It’s now even a legitimately registered shade with color authority Pantone, known as “Killa Pink.” These days it gets referred to as “millennial pink” and it adorned what felt like every pop-up, beauty brand, and targeted Instagram ad in the years 2016-2017.

In terms of pink for SS20, it’s about finding the right shade. Simon Porte Jacquemus, who ghosted Paris to show his new collection in a field of lavender in Marseille, leaned into every wearable tone of pink on a scorching magenta runway for SS20, complemented by lavender work pants, fishnet accessories, and floral prints.

However, for the most interesting execution of next season’s color scheme, look to Louis Vuitton. One of the standout ’fits from the week, perhaps the whole month, was modeled by skateboarder Evan Mock in Virgil Abloh’s third men’s collection for the brand. Mock was styled in a multicolored, multi-layered, semi-transparent monogrammed two-piece made from tulle and accessorized with a matching pastel chain around the neck.

Suit Up, But Make It Cozy

We’ve been writing about the comeback of men’s tailoring for a while now. Perhaps Kim Jones’ loose and light suiting in his inaugural SS19 Dior show set the trend, or maybe streetwear simply had to pivot to something else eventually. But here we are, a couple of seasons later, and the suiting options are cozier than ever.

New York brand Sies Marjan, known for its illuminating womenswear, put on its first menswear show with a soft suiting option in sky blue. Less cozy but perhaps even more beautiful was the new range of tailoring from Berluti. Artistic director Kris Van Assche used saturated shades of cobalt, mustard, terracotta, and neo-mint, delivering contemporary — and occasionally sleeveless — suiting with metallic accents on patina-dyed footwear to highlight just how far the concept of a “men’s suit” has come.

And let’s not forget UNDERCOVER’s SS20 show, aka the death of streetwear as we know it. “No more street style,” Jun Takahashi told us backstage after showing a collection of elegant black and gray tailoring. There was also a subtle infusion of Cindy Sherman photography and a vampiric silhouette to contrast the more pop-art colors seen at Berluti.

To Protect and to Serve (a Look)

We live in treacherous times. Protect your tweets, protect worker’s rights, and as RZA once said on Wu-Tang Clan’s debut single, protect your neck. Fashion doesn’t offer much in terms of actual protection, unless you count Nick Cannon’s questionable Louis Vuitton ensemble, but there is certainly a recent pattern of hero pieces that offer a feeling of defense and fortification.

Perhaps it’s a necessary counterpoint to all those delicate organza threads and transparent shirts, but strong and secure outerwear was all over the SS20 runway, notably at the 1017 ALYX 9SM show. Matthew Williams’ label has always had a hint of safety about it, including steadfast metal buckles and a camo-heavy Nike collaboration, but the SS20 standouts were the various neck pieces that covered up to half of the face in leather, nylon, and wool in the collection’s key colors of purple, tan, and black.

Some brands took on the theme of protection in a more conceptual direction, with GmbH adorning pieces with an evil eye, a symbol used to ward off malevolent spirits.

Fun Over Functionality

To echo Highsnobiety fashion director Corey Stokes, your accessories don’t need to be so practical right now. In this utilitarian fashion era, hyper-practical wear isn’t over, with people still turning up to nightclubs like they’re off to do battle in a post-apocalyptic warzone. But there are other options that deviate away from the idea that an accessory should look serious, or even make sense at all. Champagne holder courtesy of Dior x RIMOWA? Clink.

Virgil Abloh and Louis Vuitton leaned into this idea with double-white rucksacks — worn on the front, no less — a leather vest styled with four extra bags attached, and a kite. We’ll admit the kite was more of a vibe than a look, though.

Elsewhere, Lanvin’s extra knitted bags could work just as well on the beach or at the office, while the sports-style bags by Thom Browne were exquisitely designed and double up as pure Instagram catnip. Finally, Jil Sander took a leaf out of Jacquemus’ book, giving us largely impractical bags small enough to hold a few Juul pods, some Adderall, and whatever other tiny thing you need to get you through fashion week.

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