Two swelteringly hot days in Paris, but well worth the discomfort, including sweat trickling down the neck. I was there to do Fashion Fringe @ Covent Garden business, which went very well, but I also managed to see two shows in between. And they made me realise how much I have been missing by not going to the menswear shows now that the Sunday Times no longer covers them.
First up was John Galliano. Entirely briiliant both as clothes and as spectacle. The theme was silent movies and in particular Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. The show began with a mighty rushing wind and copies of the newspaper Galliano Gazette swirling across the runway to set the mood of poor urban life when the movies were the only escape from work and poverty for most of the working classes in the early years of the last century.
Out of the mist rose a vast clock (shades of Harold Lloyd), then came a Chaplin lookalike and we were off into a jerky, high-energy show with the models tumbling out onto the runway and dashing down it at fantastic speed. Chalk white faces, huge Caplinesque boots, top hats and moustaches which changed into an hommage to Monsieur Houlot and his famous cinematic holiday sur la plage. It was all rollicking good fun and raised our thoughts well up and away from the unbelievable heat in the venue.
And, apart from that, the clothes....? A brilliantly young and accessible wardrobe, sexy and able to be deconstructed into a range of looks that any guy would like even if fashion isn't his main concern in life.
It was obviously a hard act to follow but Kris Van Assche for Dior Homme was up to the challenge the day after in a venue even more torrid thn the Galliano one – which had a very senior lady of the press complaining birtterly and at some length about her discomfort. Most of us rose above the temperature and were delighted at how convincingly Van Assche has made Dior Homme his own after stepping into the space left by Hedi Slimane when he parted company with Dior. Minimalist, urbane and full of simple but telling details that made a statement as subtle as the very best (I am thinking of the sadly missed Jil Sander, the total mistress of the perfectly conceived and tailored garment that commands attention in whispers).
Van Assche has the same perfect pitch.