Commune de Paris 1871 is a high end French menswear brand whose name is based upon the peoples uprising that took place in the spring of that year in Paris, but which was crushed in bloody fashion after only two or three months. Therefore, it stands for a rebellious spirit and we find that vibe back in the CDP look book under inspirations. In fact, it is that very typical spirit which can only be described to foreigners as perhaps ‘rive droit’, that cradle of the spirit of the revolution.

But today’s contemporary ‘communards’ (the rebellious rabble of yore) are coming in the form of BoNoBos (bourgeois not bohemienne) as the style of CDP is to be called rather BCBG (bon chic bon genre) or perhaps even simply high-end chic urbain. They also come in form of urban tourists as this is the theme of the new CDP AW 17 collection. And to mark the event in colors and great stylized shapes and patterns the collection also prides a cool collaboration with a well-known graphics design bureau (Les Graphiquants). And this is a hit. For the patterns and colors in the garments are refreshingly modern and interesting yet simple as something out of a museum for design or modern art.

The press release therefore describes the wear rightly as Fancy Workwear, Fun, with Bold Graphics, Simplicity and in the style of a Uniform. So that despite the uppity mix of great fabrics (lots of wools, cashmere, alpaca, moleskin and satin) and a refreshingly rich and popular look (grand sweaters, baseball caps, high school sports or bomber jackets), and beyond all what wealthy young people can afford today, there is still this link to the simplicity of the humble worker, the bus driver, postman, or taxi driver. Which of course is very Parisian in its conception – let’s call it Worker Chic.

You see, what we failed to mention, is that de Commune de Paris 1871 store in Paris was recently broken into by thieves and robbed. And you’d think they would take the money or the I-pads, but no, they only came for 6 shirts or sweaters. So what better advertisement there is in this day and age when the first thing to be robbed in Paris is the Apple store or Kim Kardashian, to have your high end fashion store robbed by people who only take a couple of shirts?

It thus seems that the spirit of 1871 is still alive on the Rive Droit.

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Words by Sandro and photos from Commune de Paris 1871.

Sankuanz may very well be China’s answer to Julius from Japan in that the inspiration for the collection comes from a rather dystopian future, with the one difference that the ominous source of all the colorful and oddly shaped sartorial trouble is perhaps not a book (the Julius show theme was based upon a 1984 sci-fi novel), but rather some twisted take on the aberrant universe straight from the millennial gaming industry’s classics like the Half-Life, Bio Shock, or Fallout series, in that most of the characters of the cast are dressed in industrial tech fabrics and materials (designer Shangguan Zhe is using DuPont materials, UHMWPE, as well as aramid fibers for his creations), as well as in bio-hazard suits, which – as gaming legend would have it – must warrant all of us different levels of protection from whatever assault or onslaught both natural or unnatural the future may hold.

Comes to mind a well-known quote from Half-Life 2 as perhaps a fitting motto for the Sankuanz collection AW 17:

“The right man in the wrong place can make all the difference. So wake up Mr. Freeman, wake up. And smell the ashes.”

When then you read that the Sankuanz show press release tells us pointedly that the outfits and garments on the runways are for a time of ‘an unravelling of the establishment’ (cue Half-Life, Fallout, Bio Shock and recent events in modern-day politics from Brexit to the election to Donald Trump), then you realize that designer Zhe perhaps is onto something.

And to be as disruptive and as blunt as possible (sound familiar?) he then continues to rub salt in our aesthetic wounds by parading in front of us as word prints on hazard wear with the following brutal catch phrases as the dark and stark reminder of the realities of our barren times: ‘immigrant’, ‘massacre’, ‘natural selection’, ‘visual pollution’, and simply ‘destroy’.

Hence that the show is called ‘destroy’ and we must make a special citation here for the originality of the runway show invitation which came in the form of space age material wrist bracelet / band – in tatters and rolls, and, who knows, probably resistant to any form of rhodium radiation:

“Welcome. Welcome to City 17. You have chosen, or been chosen, to relocate to one of our finest remaining urban centers.”

(from Half-Life 2: that pervasive disembodied voice of a ubiquitously droning announcement in an abandoned city)

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Words by Sandro and photos from Sankuanz.

What would you expect? Hey after all this is the man who once dressed up to be photographed like Godzilla while sporting a biker beard – and as a giant mushroom with a frog on his bold head.

Yes folks, it is Walter van Beirendonck again, the old Belgian master, this time with a pagan quality show which can only be related somehow to the 18th century histoire of a local Belgian gang called the Buckriders who once upon a lost time terrorized local populations dressed up as goats. For here was a pagan ensemble dressed up as goats playing drums and disharmonious instruments with a pan-like creature goading and guiding and egging on the models on the runway as the Piper at the Gates of Dawn – if not the terrified fashionistas in the crowd and audience.

But hey what matters, if the quality of the style of menswear is actually really good – if not even a little chic despite the multiform accessories and interesting sartorial contraptions pasted across (or hanging form) the designs; the colorful symphony outstanding in its pallet and imagination if not the range and variety of materials; and if through the medieval chaos or 18th century angst both modern elegance and class still manage to shine through.

In short, this old master once delivered again, as amazingly Walter van Beirendonck keeps on dreaming up yet ever more harrowing tales – or beautiful stories if you want, in the pursuit of tailoring excellence and the power of wild imagination in men’s fashion.

Hold on for the ride! For here come Walter’s Buckriders…

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Words by Sandro and photos by Walter van Beirendonck.

The date is 1984 but the setting is the far or the near Sci-Fi future in which all people are plugged into a digital matrix that eventually will lead to what is called a technological ‘singularity’. Not so far off perhaps according some like Elon Musk and others who believe that AI – artificial intelligence – will take over to the point that there will be no escape from such a dystopia and  the human free will and agent will be entirely replaced by a technological paradigm for the ages. This is the setting of the Julius collection AW 17 and probably also the real vision of the future of designer Tatsuro Horikawa from Japan, and we have to say that the cast of characters created by his extraordinary post-urban if not apocalyptic street style designs is one to savor and cherish, if not from a viewpoint of style, then surely from a perspective of grand design and sartorial art where lifeless automatons once called humans roam freely in a cyberspace digital super portal with no direction home.

Oh well, but that still does not explain the 1984 reference but for that if you must know that it was precisely the year in which George Orwell’s famous dystopia was playing out (written many years earlier of course), that a grand classic Sci-Fi novel was written upon which many a future movie or book in the genre was going to be based. It’s called the Neuromancer by William Gibson published in, you got it, 1984, which is about a hacker (sound familiar) in a far dystopian future who can no longer get back into cyberspace as he has been punished by a corporation who take away his access to cyberspace by poisoning his neurological system necessary to plug in. The rest of the story is best left up to the digital cyber creatures crawling on the Julius runway.  Sartorial marvels and gems all at best, no more human at worst.

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Words by Sandro and photos from Julius.

The young French brand Officine Générale  (2012) under direction of designer / creative director Pierre Mahéo remarkably seems to sell more product in the United States than in France and is currently opening up its second store in Paris. It prides itself therefore in the collections on what is considered the typical French, look, style, and quality and of course inevitably the question will then be raised what exactly is considered as ‘French’ in the sartorial arts.

Well, we all know it when we see it, when we recognize it but let’s try to define it. Take a good look at the collection below in the slideshow and you ask yourself why what you see is so very French; then try to define what you see or what you think. It is,frankly, easier said than done, but Best Dressed Man will give it a try here.

Of course ‘French’ style means a certain degree of elegance – or rather élégance – the phonetics themselves defining the meaning of the very word by difference of the accents with which it is pronounced. A certain aspiration to chic, or class, or good style, or good taste, but WITHOUT being BCBG (bon chic bon genre, like let’s say, Tommy or Ralph Lauren etc.).

It clearly also means a certain ‘decontraction’ of style – a casualness in dressing up – as in casual wear or as in the word ‘décontracté’ – like loosely wearing your shirt hanging out of your pants for example – and Pierre Mahéo in a recent GQ interview makes the interesting comment that indeed this liberty of style does not only belong to women but certainly also to men; and that when this freedom of wearing the things the way you want is applied also to men that this is so very French.

What is even more interesting is the point made by Mahéo that casualness is really not so much about the clothes themselves that you are wearing but that it has everything to do with the way you wear them which makes the look French (Le Look anyone?). As an example the designer gives the idea that older and used shirts and sweaters are often much better in wear, because of the wrinkles that give a natural look – so that one may look very ‘décontracté or casual indeed. No need to buy stonewashed or pre-shrunk or faded clothes therefore. For that is NEW.

No, above all, to look and feel French in your menswear, you need that globally branded French attitude well-known in pop culture which simply is called ‘nonchalance’, a the-devil-may-care or casual I-don’t-care attitude – and you don’t even need to be pretending to be chain smoking unlit cigarettes loosely dangling from your bottom lip in order to obtain it.

For here is the Best Dressed Man on the Planet guide of tips on how to look positively French:

  • Unbutton your collar or wrinkle or flap it halfway up (think: Eric Cantona) and whatever you do, do not straighten it
  • NEVER wear a tie
  • Wear a T–shirt, turtle neck or V–neck sweater under your jacket and NO shirt
  • Knot your favorite neck scarf or foulard tightly around your neck
  • Do wear clean wrinkled-up or old clothes – in other words, don’t fold your clothes too crisply, and wear them out but not completely
  • Often buy something elegant or a little chic and NOT too poppy or sporty, like something made by Officine Générale for instance
  • Make sure your belt misses the buckle, or that your shirt, jacket, or coat misses a button here or there (and pretend you never noticed or are too lazy to fix it)
  • When choosing colors go against the grain, be very contraire (wear light colors in winter and dark colors in summer) but never disagreeable
  • Wear ‘baskets’ (hmm Converse) or other types of old timer sneakers under an elegant two piece suit or beautiful alpaca sweater
  • Always dress down gently and never dress up

Since indeed the theme of this Officine Générale AW 17 collection is the French look, Pierre Mahéo defines for us in the press release what he considers to be typical French style icons for men:

 “This «French style» seems to exist. Roger Vadim, Maurice Ronet, Francois Truffaut, Jonas Bloquet, Louis Garrel, Jacques Dutronc, Tahar Rahim, Jean-Michel Frank, Benjamin Biolay, Nicolas Godin… a few names from a list that will never be entirely exhaustive.”

Finally, so as to end this essay while leaving it ambiguously open to multiple interpretations, it’s said that Napoleon was once asked about who was the better soldier, the Englishman or a Frenchman!? His answer, as history shows, is both pointed and telling when applied to men’s fashion, and may perhaps explain the last thing that you may want to know before buying (and trying) your first item at Officine Générale so as to create a French look for men:

“An Englishman is proud, and proud people make good soldiers; but … a Frenchman, he is vain, and a vain man – he can or will do anything.”

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Word by Sandro and photos from Officine Générale.

When observing Henrik Vibskov’s marvelous creations and collections on the runway each time they somehow seem to resonate with E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1816 story about a Kingdom of the Dolls, better known publicly the world over as ‘The Nutcracker’. Here are colors, cuts, and shapes and forms gently playing out the grand cabaret of characters from childhood dreams, and when you read the press release indeed it is mentioned that some of this latest marvel of a Henrik Vibskov collection was inspired by ‘puzzles’, ‘painted wooden toys’, and ‘board games from the 60’s’.

Add to this that two of Henrik’s projects this year include working on Madame Butterfly in Belgium as well as on Swanlake here in Paris, then you will understand that we did not witness just an ordinary fashion collection homme but rather an entire theatrical set where a small drama was being played out in front of all the grateful fashionistas present. For where fashion design ends perhaps this is also the place where the theatre of dreams may begin.

A sport and exercise based theme necessary for a time when our lives are hectic was actively being played out by 12 human dolls in slow motion on a stage in the middle of a grand square runway in a ballroom like setting – before the show, during the show, and still continuing and slowly dying out with the music after the runway show was already over. Of course the unexpected effect of having different elements of a similar theme going on at the same time but at a different pace, makes for most a most marvelous experience: The doll-like fashion creations parading around the grand ballroom on the runway while slow motion dolls are performing a stationary sport or yoga like exercise on the stage in the middle.

We have seen this concept applied before at fashion shows (notably Philipp Plein) but never seen it implemented this perfectly and professionally. Because if the choreography or the music are off – even by one beat – the effect is gone and the show will fall apart at the seams. But the Henrik Vibskov AW 17 show was executed and rehearsed to perfection.

And so all the patterns and colors and the style are clearly recognizable as Vibskov – and especially his sweaters are things worthy of wonder and admiration – during this grand parade of the human dolls while a cacophony of impressions, sounds and various colors slowly comes to a grand decrescendo as if when imagining or witnessing a recently discovered antique tablet or mural – full of colors and odd shapes – from deep in the Aztec or Mayan jungles having come alive for the first time, only to slowly fade away again into the hidden world of dreams.

Henrik Vibskov is a master, and you can even spot him on the runway below.

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Words by Sandro and photos from Henrik Vibskov.

Get ready for some serious class.

For AW 17/18 ACNE once more delivers (like they always seem to do) with a very strong fashion statement, this time with an 80’s urban chic retro look which was inspired by working men, not career or business men, but by what the Japanese would call the salary man, but then occidental style, the man who goes to work every day quietly but who loves to pride himself on how he dresses, on how he behaves, and on how he walks. It’s interesting to see how many good brands recently – like for instance Paul & Joe or Carven – are similarly trying to capture that style (and the oddly pastel colors) from the early eighties, not because it was such an exciting time period in recent history, but probably precisely because of the lack excitement thereof, because in today’s world which is ‘mad, bad, and dangerous to know’ we may very well be able to use the style of a time when nothing much was up, when things were rather calm on the block, and when going to work was not interrupted by trepidation of the total security state, by the buzz of high technology, or the latest reports of brutal climate change. Aye, how about just carrying a simple newspaper for a change! It’s the perfect accessory after all for a quiet ride in the bus or train on your way to work.

Indeed creative director Jonny Johansson is using those sweet pastel colors (he calls them sorbet) in the collection which hark back to a time when life was more innocent and much less stressed and much gentler on the eye. Indeed this was the time of double-breasted suits, those wider pinstripes, leather suspenders, short V-necks or double turtle necks, and perhaps a Prince of Wales pattern here, and oddly square-framed Thunderbirds-are-go sunglasses, but perhaps most of all – yes Jonny please break this vulgar post-modern taboo, please do – a time when men still wore their pants and trousers high up ABOVE their hips and not sadly below them like today.

And thus it may be said that ACNE has succeeded in this collection in bringing back an iconic look and a style of class most desperately needed for our often desperate times today.

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Words by Sandro and photos from ACNE.

The latest AW collection from well-known Korean men / women wear designer Juun.J is simply called Archive. It features a variety of shapes and forms of the designer’s signature commitment of gently deconstructing classical tailoring over the last ten years in what perhaps can aptly be described as an androgynous or genderless street style experience.

Mixing men and women on the runway and making sure that all clothing is wide or raffled, that all models wear pointy ankle boots, that men wear their hair long and women short, that military combat khaki as a color and bomber outfits breathe the uniformity of a uniform, that no tattoos or beards or piercings or jewelry or other characteristics are visible, that there are many turtlenecks on display, as well as many oversized coats and sweaters, not to mention hoodies and yet more hoodies, virtually guarantees that gender is almost impossible to distinguish in some of the runway pictures. In fact, the one good way to distinguish differences between men and women is to be present at the runway show, where you can see how the models WALK.

This is gender neutral streetwear in classic and traditional shapes and cuts of elegance spiced up with kinky leathers, ghetto hoodies, military colors and shades, and lots of dangling straps, belts, and fastenings. Its motto is Supersize. The theme is Archive 10. The logo and the brand Juun.J. The style an urban deconstructed Chic Militaire.

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Words by Sandro and photos from Juun.J.

This is the second time that Best Dressed Man is reviewing Boris Bidjan Saberi in Paris and again the show theme offered a stark example of what has become a common cause among many of the menswear fashion avant-garde in its portrayal of a modern young road traveler (or urban climber in this case), who often seems to go, not by the comfort of AirBnB from cosmopolitan city to cosmopolitan city supported by urban settings of neon lights and concrete or suburban sprawl, but rather by severe hardship and pain like a Silk Road Warrior across the Sahara desert from Algiers to Timbuktu, but then without a rally car or a racing team – and rather self-reliant, dapper, enterprising, and aye, why not DAFT – as in so ambitiously silly that the normal risks we take in life have now become an afterthought.

And if then you read the press release that the inspiration for this grand winter collection is the experience of the designer himself as an ICE CLIMBER, then all of a sudden things start falling into place. For was not this week a meter of snow recorded for the first time somewhere in the Sahara desert? Or is he climbing on Antarctica?

Indeed, a closer scrutiny of this winter-way-beyond-Moncler collection by Boris Bidjan Saberi shows all the elements and gadgets of extreme sport climbing – but modulated into a grand fashion statement for the ages: Harnessed pants, vest-jackets, parkas & trenches, woolly-warm hand-knit jumpers, webs of vertebral braids, optional removable pockets, removable linings, adjustable straps, climbing knots, double or triple fastenings, and – to top it all off – of course anti-snow blinding goggles and even military crampon mountain boots (the latter provided by the brand Salomon just for this occasion).

Yup, that may be extreme, but it is also beautiful. And actually much to the point for a young man in this urban life of today which requires a serious mountain or ice climber’s attitude – as well as the necessary equipment and style – in order to survive. Thus this latest collection of the BBS on-the-road menswear is shown here to breathe some serious class and has a remarkable freshness of style born out of hardcore hardship of risky and hazardous endeavors.

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Words by Sandro and photos from Boris Bidjan Saberi

Masanori Morikawa from Japan is back on the Paris runway this time with a new ‘dadaist’ collection simply called ‘blue’.  And shades of blue it has: Police, Turquoise, Topaz, and hints of Spanish blue are ubiquitous in this interestingly layered deconstruction of styles and fabrics that the designer likes to practice in each new collection, and this time around accentuated by ‘classical tailoring with recomposed silhouettes’ – a veritable rhapsody in blue (with some bold reds for contrasting effect), which according to Japanese legend must indicate all the angst that youth has while living in modern society.

The motive is hidden in the details where quite originally – and as an example of how modern technology has an impact on fashion statements – we can perceive tassels, cords, belts, and shoe laces dangling about as if they are headphone jacks which get lost in the shuffle of an urban street city center cellphone manoeuvre when you are quickly trying to call a friend but when you are prevented from doing so by the doors of the bus or the train suddenly opening.

In this sense Masanori is right on target by quoting that this patchwork of classic-modernist streetwear is meant for young men who like to go by the saying ‘too fast to live too young to die’. And it explains the ‘Police-Topaz blue pretty well in terms of angst and vain cosmopolitan dreams of living in large and nameless cities around the globe. And perhaps so specifically in Japan – which, as lore has it, is rather crowded and full of people.

So wear blue. Not navy or royal blue. But police – turquoise – topaz blue.  Wear different layers while tassels hang from all elements of your urban outfit as if you are some type of cosmopolitan pirate. Hey, and wear a simple blue hat. Hey, and as an accessory add perhaps to wear what is called ‘an amplifier bag’ so that the batteries you carry for all your electronic equipment fit in nicely without disturbing anyone else.

And don’t forget that style-du-jour de l’année 2017 which we see plastered over every runway in Europe today: OVERSIZED sweaters, coats, pants, cuffs, collars, and shirts.  And then finally, of course, don’t forget them BLUE lacquered shoes, for those shoes are soo 2017. Police – Topaz blue. So that in the end you will have arrived at being a real urban Dadaist, protected by the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi (an old Zen ritual of purity and simplicity in which things handmade and irregularly shaped, with uneven glaze, cracks, or beauty with deliberate imperfection are highly prized) because you are wearing the latest collection Christian Dada.

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Words by Sandro and photos from Christian Dada.

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