PARIS (AP) — The fashion pack says "Bonjour, Paris!" as the catwalk shows move on from Milan and onto the final dash to the finish line of fall-winter 2014 menswear collections.
Here are some top moments and tidbits from Wednesday's dressy displays. WILL SMITH GOES TO PARIS The presence of "Men in Black" star Will Smith at Valentino ensured that the show was the snapshot highlight of the first day of Paris menswear.
The smiling 45-year-old actor told The Associated Press inside the opulent 19th-century mansion venue that there's nowhere he'd rather be than the City of Light. "I've been taking a few months travelling to places like Buenos Aires. But there's something distinct about Paris, when you walk around. This is exactly where I want to be right now," he said, dressed head to toe in Valentino, with some enviable pajama-style pants and a draped scarf.
"And it's great to be at the show. Valentino for me, well, it's classical perfection." VALENTINO'S ETHNIC PATCHWORK The third Paris menswear show for Valentino saw designers Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri (who sported a new, demure short hairstyle) channel ethnic patchwork.
"Intarsia," or mosaic patterns, was how the program notes described the Aztec-like motifs that decorated peacoats, shearling coats and hunting jackets. Woolen coats embroidered like rugs, and tribal wings on shoulders, mirrored the ethnic feel evoked by the myriad carpets that lined the catwalk floor.
The show was soft. From rounded shoulders, to pajamas suits and a harmonious blend of camel, gray, indigo blue on felt, every element gave the collection a snug feel. A long thick striped coat in black, gray and brown had a soft, sumptuous tone.
It put the designers in good stead for the launch of their first flagship menswear boutique in Paris on the Rue Saint Honore— designed by architect David Chipperfield — which was inaugurated just after the show.
RAF SIMONS CRITIQUES AMERICA Was it a dig at Uncle Sam? Raf Simons this season collaborated with American artist Sterling Ruby to produce a wacky show with Mickey Mouse shoes, exaggeratedly skinny legs and oversized 1-meter (3-foot) bags set against a backdrop of the U.S. flag.
But the leitmotif, a print of the hands and jagged nails of a wicked witch, made the show feel like evil was lurking just beyond the surface. Colorful fabric appliques and diagonal stripes made sure that the focal point of the ensembles was on the surface and that the the oversize gray marl jackets or black sweaters beneath were subservient.
The splashed bleach bursts of color also gave this imaginative show an injection of punk. ECCENTRIC INVITATIONS In the old-fashioned postwar days of Monsieur Dior, fashion show invitations were sacred templates, only to be written upon by professional calligraphers. How times have changed! The once-classical invite has over the years been given a dramatic overhaul.
In a bid to attract attention for their collections, houses are resorting more and more to inventive gimmicks. The winner of the most eccentric invitation for Wednesday's shows was the design house 22/4, who lured in guests with a blurred invitation card that could only be read with magic eye goggles (included, fortunately, in the envelope.)
Raf Simons' was a close second with a huge poster that was left blank apart from his name. With Paris menswear week ballooning with some 50 official shows and countless off-calendar collections, it's little wonder that houses are trying hard to separate themselves from the pack.
CARVEN DESIGNER'S CATWALK DEBUT A billiard room, the place of the dapper yet playful gentleman, was the set for designer Guillaume Henry's strong debut catwalk show for Carven. Two old school wooden game tables, floodlit in film noir lighting, served as the obstacles around which some 36 often-retro looks filed by.
Many of garments came in what the program notes call the "faded shades of old photos," coal, slate gray, black and off-white. And above-the-ankle tapered pants, together with '60s large check tweed and high-buttoned woolen jackets with narrow shoulders and excessive collars added to the vintage mood.
But playfulness, more than nostalgia, ended up dominating the show. Graffiti prints, based on photographer Brassai, jazzed up otherwise classical button-up shirts, and even came as flashes on two ensembles worn — in a cheeky, and on-trend touch — by female models.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP