And now for something completely different!
For while the calendar Fashion Week Homme AW 18 is slowly progressing in Paris, Haute Couture is already starting. Mind you that ‘haute couture’ is a term protected by law in France and that therefore you will not be able to find it in New York, London, or Milan – that is to say – at least not for men. Because haute couture basically means beautiful and incredible fabrics made entirely by hand into high end dress wear from beginning to finish. No budget required or necessary. No price tag possible. These are priceless items for which no market exists. They are hors norm – exceptional items, the stuff for red carpets and old world galas where the music comes not in stereo or mixing sounds but with violins leading discrete orchestras playing a rhapsody. And thus, where London, New York, Milan, and Hong Kong have bespoke tailoring – only Paris has couture.
Just as men’s fashion shows often have a woman or two on the runway to show and illustrate diversity in shape, form, and color, it is not well-known that sometimes the haute couture presentations will indeed also have a couple of men who are facing the very daunting task to walk the runway with the ladies. And of course these men will flat out fail if this were a competition so as to look as great as only a woman can, but what is interesting here for Best Dressed Man is that when you put men and the women together in one show for Homme that the end result is different than when you see men and women together in a show for Couture.
For at Homme what you get to see is a rather boring genderless made-for-the-trend unisex wear fit one and for all and ready for the latest street style, whereas when you see men and women together in Haute Couture that the women will look very feminine and the men beautiful while the style will be timeless. And that’s a big difference.
So enter here couturière Yumi Katsura from Japan with a grand show in the Imperial Room of one of Paris’ old grand hotels not so far from place Vendôme with a collection called Bonds, a word to represent the link between East and West in the art of painting nature, and enter two men on the runway between women wearing the most beautiful creations. Theme is nature and wildlife on prints created through silk dying (Yuzen).
And what now shows miraculously is that both male and female identity – side by side – is beautifully preserved, complimented, and safeguarded, rather than confused, mocked, or aye – erased altogether as we so often see happening in the less traditional shows for Homme. It is thus the beauty of diversity that shines in the Yumi Katsura Haute Couture collection, and the not the mindless deconstruction thereof. Or in this case, couture beating homme.
Avant-gardists, progressives, and other gender neutral fashionistas please take careful note.
Words by Sandro and photos by Yumi Katsura.