Someone had to do it. So leave it up to two young Parisian designer brothers from a bespoke family (dad was a London tailor) named ICOSAE to redefine and deconstruct Vermeer’s famous Girl with the Pearl Earring into today’s sensitive, brooding, yet elegant young man: Le Jeune Homme à la Perle – the young man with a pearl earring.

Here ICOSAE presents a dark (lots of underground shades of black fabrics and metallic detail in embroideries and accessories backed up by patchy prints) and rebellious collection, yet according to signature as we have witnessed in a prior show, still elegant and classy despite its penchant for deconstruction and provocation in both cut (oversized coats), shape (cut and turn sleeves), design (monster lapels), fabric (a mix of modern and traditional), and even color (the blood red on black being a primary feature following a ‘family conflict theme’ with the catchphrase that blood runs thicker than water as per the press release).

We had dubbed this particular style ‘punk chic’ last time we wrote an article when ICOSAE was presenting its first show, but this being their second we will have to redefine (or perhaps rather further deconstruct) the description of the style into something more subtle and sensitive as the direct and unavoidable result of every model on the runway boasting that marvelous metallic earpiece with ONE shiny pearl so softly and gently dangling from a small pendulum just below the ear. For that’s no longer punk, but rather swag. And frankly one could only imagine bad boy boogie John Galliano coming up with similar ‘innovation’ before it becomes – if ever – mainstream.

Nevertheless this is what youth is for: To give a distorted twist of sensitivity & sensibility either faux or real to traditional rebellion and a raw, ruckus & raucous approach to life, and then to match the style to go along with it, which now, despite all because of ICOSAE, will be available near you at your local Urban Chic outfitters of uppity menswear for the trendy and the bold in shapes and forms of true elegance and style. Punk Chic gone Pirate Swag – think Boy George, George Michael, and especially Adam Ant of the past, then Captain Jack Sparrow of today, only to culminate in what will be perhaps every second or third millennial gentleman of the future.

For what, if not for ICOSAE, is a real angry young man without a dangling PEARL earring?

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Words by Sandro and photos from ICOSAE.

Some fashion shows are so good that they develop their own cult following. And this is one of them. The way some people were used to follow the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, or Metallica on tour from city to city, there are also people who follow fashion designers from city to city, to see and revere their latest work in awe and adulation. Like rabid football fans, they dress up in the same style as that their heroes latest work would dictate. And like Justin Bieber fans they scream while taking pictures outside the event even if they have no ticket to get into the venue. And so it oddly is as well with Glenn Martens Y/Project show, which year after year, like good old Burgundy wine, only just gets a little darker and better still.

One must then wonder therefore what it is precisely with Belgian fashion designers that makes them special and stand out. For Belgium is a small country yet they have so many well-known designers. Here is just a simple five who are showing this week alone in Paris: Glenn Martens, Walter van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Martin Margiela, and of course Raf Simons, who need no introduction to a fashion public. So perhaps that it is not coincidence that Glenn Martens harks from the dark old city of Bruges, that obscure and hidden left over from a dark medieval past which never completely seemed to have reached modernity – not even until today. For was not this city the capital of Old Burgundy, a 14th century empire that stretched all the way from Switzerland to Amsterdam? And which mysteriously disappeared within the deep mist of European history?

Sorry that it needed that long introduction but only then will you perhaps understand a little bit about the origins of the creativity of this fabulous and fascinating show which gets better every year. The press release describes the work as ‘graphic tailoring woven into structural elegance’ as a technical description and almost every time there is an underground scene in the show ambiance but the effects of the materials used, the form, the shapes, the colors, and the cut and the design with Y/Project somehow always become visible upon the faces of models on the runway expressed as a strange but intense form of self-confidence.

And it is for a reason that they seem to breathe and represent the cockiness of princes or pashas. Can you spot Napoleon, Henri the IV, Louis XIV and other notables past in the runway line up in the slideshow below? Not only in the patchwork prints and the design, but in the faces of the actual models? For indeed it is rather remarkable what kind of confidence grand clothes can make for man: The confidence of the Prince – oddly fitting in the age of Donald Trump – which as the theme for this Y/Project show Glenn Martens aptly calls ‘the real Slim Shady’ after the nickname of the rough mean street alter ego of rapper Eminem.

Aha, so THAT is what grand clothing can bring out in a man, and it also explains the cult following of this fabulous and highly creative work of the sartorial arts called Y/Project.

Glenn Martens, the fashion cult hero Slim Shady from Bruges

Glenn Martens, the fashion cult hero Slim Shady from Bruges

And did anyone notice that Glenn Martens is an Eminem lookalike?

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Words by Sandro and photos from Y Project.

 

Something very French about this FIRST runway show (after 23 years of having a well-known brand and boutique in Paris) by Lucien Pellat – Finet, old Don of the French fashion scene, and something très Pop – Culture.  Not only do promotional tie-ins and markings of John Matos (aka the Graffiti artist called ‘CRASH’), as well some latest designs and images of the new installment of the grand animated movie ‘Discpicable Me 3’ feature in the work and art, but we also notice that not without a twist or hint of irony the fashion avant garde – the frontrunners – is exploring some long-since washed-out pop-imagery like for instance skulls, hemp leaves, and aye, even the Popeye-esque ubiquitous image of the lighthouse (yes a lighthouse, that retro pop image par excellence when pop was still innocent).

Interestingly this eclectic strand of DNA made for a novelty patchwork of fashion which rendered good homage to its purported mission statement that the ‘bad taste of today is the good taste of tomorrow’, which perhaps should have more appropriately read that the ‘bad taste of yesterday is like the good taste of today’ but hey, it pretty much matched very well the precise and indicative words in French from the press release which we don’t want to withhold from you: That the style of the LPF collection represents a ‘nonchalance étudiée’ – a form of studied nonchalance (bingo), carried by what can only be described as an L.A. MAN (not an L.A. Woman although the reference bears a point in case) of yesteryear – who perchance likes to go on ‘noctambules en balade à l’orée du jour, sur les longues avenues d’un Los Angeles circa Nineties’ – get this as per the press release – on night-walks at the break of dawn along the long avenues of Los Angeles around the nineties.  Wow!  Hence the slippers and PJ pants. And who will undoubtedly be very lucky not to get shot or arrested while never returning home.

Let’s call the LPF style L.A.:  A study in the REDUX and FLUX of pop-culture; pulp fiction in fashion.

That’s not to say though that this collection does not breathe some serious style or class.  You MUST know therefore that for the LPF collections only the very best and precious materials are being used (alpaca, cashmir, fleece, etc.), that the sourcing is state of the art, and that items are made either in France, Scotland, Italy, or Japan, and that yes that you can even notice the effects thereof by simply looking at the pictures – it shows in the colors and in materials coming out much better and brighter. Add to that that the simplicity of the styles on display and it will make the LPF menswear very universal and timeless, and all of a sudden the pop-culture ‘méli-mèlo’ (mix) is all but forgotten and substituted for some serious French style. Probably precisely WHY Lucien Pellat – Finet (we’ll call him LPF to popularize his name) was honored by the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture to be the Opening Act (first show on the fashion calendar in the new year) in a series of French fashion weeks to have kicked off and which has officially commenced today Wednesday January 18, 2017.

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Words by Sandro and photos from Lucien Pellat–Finet.

It is indeed a fitting a closure for Paris Fashion Week this summer to end with the latest Agnès b. collection pour homme as she is the grand old dame herself who has been setting the standard, if not the tone, for many things, and not in the least in fashion for men in France and beyond. Thus it behooves us to carefully translate from the French the few words she wrote to tell of her inspiration for the collection SS17, as they are meaningful:

So, the Parisien …

Cynical, gentle, mischievous, crazy, with a critical mind and on principal – revolutionary. Perhaps he always has a certain sober elegance …, but always makes charm of mistakes or flaws, and puts a personal touch on the way to wear clothes, so simple, that by the cut and the color alone they become beautiful.  – Agnès b.

Voilà!  This SS17 collection in all its variety is as good and as beautiful as ever, so not much more remains to be said as we are closing this Paris Fashion Week Homme for the summer of 2016, a long and crazy summer so far, revolutionary indeed, but leaving you in the good hands of Agnès b. and of course in style and with elegance – a certain sober elegance …

As a small bonus in the pictures below, please know that Agnès often works with guest designers who are asked to partake in the runway shows. We are sure that you can spot the one cowboy on the runway which is the work of designer Adrien Beau.

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Posted by Sandro and photos by Agnès b press.

Sean Suen has been doing runway shows since 2012 Beijing SS13, but this was the very first one in Paris. The place Vendôme was a good choice because we can squarely state here that this was the best menswear show of the week. Despite all the hype, swag, and name that some of the other brands make in Paris across the board, this one delivered. And it proves why young designers from the East today are second to none. Aye, they are probably the best! We should remember humbly that China has a tradition and a history that goes back 5000 years, and that therefore sartorial knowledge and know-how has been there ever since maybe only to explode today – in the age of 24 hours 7/7 fashion.

Just check your fashion radar. And put Sean Suen in your next calendar for this show was loaded, solid, and swinging. In our last cover of him we said his work to have a style of chic-urbain de grande classe – a high class urban chic. But that was when we only had a chance to admire his work hanging from the racks in a showroom. So yes grand class, but just put the man on the runway for a minute and what you will witness is an upcoming star designer. He is going to go really far and we could imagine a famous brand asking Sean Suen to become their lead and anchor. He is THAT good. But he may as well stay with himself.

Elegance mixes flawlessly with the latest materials and fabrics. Style and class seems to come effortlessly. Sean Suen sets a mighty high standards for today for what defines chic for men in contemporary society. And it is not as if it is not edgy as in like Givenchy, which always produces the same. No, on the contrary the Sean Suen SS17 collection breathes freshness, power, and something which we will call the contempt of beauty. For that’s what beauty does. It re-designs in its brutal favor all other things which are not as beautiful to second row, second rate, and second hand.

Sean Suen, welcome to Paris! Vous êtes bienvenue.

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Posted by Sandro and photos from Sean Suen press.

Despite the non-conformist and rebellious inspirations of Christian Dada aka Masanori Morikawa from Japan, this show manages – as it always seems to do – some refreshing element of class or even elegance. Thus it is often interesting to the neutral fashion observer to see that no matter how hard some designers try to deliver a coup of social critique or a dose serious deconstruction, that time and again their creations end up being, well – just swag – stylish and beautiful thereat. And that is really a compliment to the sartorial arts despite that not all designers can pull this off.

But Christian Dada can.

As last time in winter there was a BDSM theme woven into the signature of the CD show, this time around the inspiration came from, and I quote the press release:

Peace, Yoko Ono, John Lennon, Love, Life, Paradox, Uniform, Jimi, Dark-side, Poetic, Earthquake, Gun, Police, The Smiths, Insignia, Decadent, Deconstruction, Construction, Imperfect, Perfect.

The artist himself calls his style ‘decadent yet sophisticated’ and he may very well have a point, but here at BDMOTP what we are interested in if we can discover any serious class beneath his dark-side, or any serious elegance beneath his deconstructive sophistication. And we think we can.

For the Palais de Tokyo is a classy venue in Paris for a show. And the Japanese silk weaving in the fabrics is marvelous. So are the different dyes of black in which the Japanese are masters. And some of the jackets and coats are fit for gentlemen. So as anti-conformist or decadent as this collection may purport to be, it still has some serious and undeniable constructive sophistication or class indeed. It’s even got swag! And this must be the talent of the designer to create which in the end wins it from his drive to destroy.

Class.

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Posted by Sandro and photos from Christian Dada press.

Can we say that Barnabé Hardy did it again? Well, to be fair, he does it every time and it is the reason that Carven remains perhaps the classiest Urban Chic menswear brand on the block for some time now. Somehow our favorite Carven designer always knows how to capture the latest trend of light and comfortable elegance in his creations, whether that be winter or summer, spring or fall, retro or new – while keeping perfectly intact the brand’s signature and DNA. It’s quite an accomplishment really to do this year in year out season in season out because it may very well never be easy to find new inspiration, whether that be for us in words when we write about it and try to describe his creations, or whether that be for Carven to think of the next shape, color, form, pattern, and design for the latest collection.

So for SS17 we witness that typical French easy going traveler’s look, très decontracté – very relaxed, very casual, and very carefree. For the sporty man who likes to go in style and class and who leaves the city but who likes to travel light for a weekend trip to some other city – perhaps from Paris to Naples, or Barcelona or Cannes. Light pastel colors that make you blend in with the clouds in the sky, an easy belt pack on your waist rather than a heavy backpack, no socks of course, and those luxurious items only to be found at Carven made especially for you – trekking Jesus sandals, deck shoes, or summer fringed boots. It’s hybrid footwear and heavily personalized – or so it feels.

BDMOTP was at the presentation on the rue de Turenne in Paris which is really the center for men’s tailoring and sales in the city. The show was well attended and was staged – as is so often the case in an old industrial loft setting – with bouncy rubber curtains running from the floor to the ceiling so that the models were not just able to walk, but also able to lightly dance and move and bounce against the curtain – like playful birds – so as to emphasize the lightness of the summer inspirations of the SS17 collection. New menswear was worn loosely and not tightly. An atmosphere easy-going, relaxed, and very casual – the stuff of summer dreams. Yet chic and elegance will always pervades at Carven, no matter the moment.

Carven SS17, casual traveler chic for the summer of …

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Posted by Sandro and photos from Carven press.

Monsieur Lacenaire is quality French menswear brand which has been making high-end urban streetwear since 2011. In the SS17 collection, for which we visited the presentation you can see here below, the general theme was dubbed La Flânerie Parisienne, which translates as a Parisian stroll. Are you the type who likes loitering (not a crime in Paris), strolling, sauntering, lounging, dawdling, moseying, or loafing about – then indeed you would be welcome in Paris as this is one of the most Parisian of all qualities – provided you understand the art of conversation of course – and if you know how to dress well and present yourself properly. Thus enter Monsieur Lacenaire to dress you for summer so you will feel comfortable, youthful, sporty, and of course decontracté – which means easy-going or just relaxed.

So indeed this must be the first time that BDMOTP had witnessed a presentation where the theme was based upon the simplicity of what is called REST. Rest in a chair. Lounge away. Take a seat. Don’t hurry. And of course, if you want to, lay down. In Monsieur Lacenaire of course.

So how did designer Brecht Evans from Belgium express this very simple yet interesting theme for the brand? Well, as all Parisians know who love their city parks, there are two parks in particular which are more beautiful than all others in the city, and that is because they were formed and shaped by André le Nôtre himself – le Jardinier du Roi, the gardener of the king. And as it so happens these two gardens are very well kept and still exist in their original state, one being the Jardin de Luxembourg in front of the French senate, the other one les Jardins des Tuileries in front of the Louvre. Indeed these two are virtual enclaves and enclosures of REST in what is otherwise a bustling sprawling and busy metropolis.

So Brecht Evans went to the Jardin de Tuileries and took the dreamy image of the boats that are floated there daily by kids in the central pond of the park; he took the image of the lounge chairs that are standing all around in these gardens freely for people to take a rest or a break; and aye, he took on the pastel colors which summer clouds bring when kids play about in these parks. And that is in all its simplicity the central theme of this quality collection for Monsieur Lacenaire SS17.

Rather remarkably this Proustian reverie and dream world indeed still exists today even in the age of terrorism – so thank god! Toy boats gently floating on the waves of the pond. Gazing at the summer clouds. A small amusement park for the children not far off in the Tuileries. Flowers. More clouds. More flowers. Beautiful ladies trotting the terraces. People chatting and talking. Birds flying carelessly about. Stretched out lawns where it is not forbidden to sit. Patchwork shirts and linen trousers we wear, we are young and care free, and we have no worries. We lounge, loiter, and walk about telling our friends whatever comes to mind. In Monsieur Lacenaire of course, a quality menswear for those à la recherche of the quality of life du temps perdu.

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Posted by Sandro and photos from Monsieur Lacenaire press.

One of the issues with young designers is that often they are excellent in design and in the sartorial arts, but that they are quite confused about where their inspiration for their beautiful creations may come from. Or perhaps that they know it very well, but that they do not always know how to express it in words precisely.

Thus Valentin and Florentin Glemarec – two young Parisian brothers who studied Fine Arts at the Ecole du Louvre – presented us with a formidable ICOSAE show with some real serious swag and some real serious quality, but which left us questioning the show press release as seriously confusing. But that is fine, as with time will come those words that fit the story you want to tell in arts. In any art.

A few clear signatures are nevertheless already visible within the work, and two of them are mentioned on the ICOSAE web page as inspiration. The two brothers believe in deconstruction, which of course is a very Parisian thing, but meanwhile they also believe that the original traditional look needs to be preserved so as continue the look, the brand, and the image – if not the style.  And this is precisely what we see, when you notice on the runway the open and torn shoulders in the classic jackets and coats, the open cuts on different colors in the pants, the extra belts and strings, all set inside an original look that anyone would recognize, but deconstructive just the same.

The net effect, therefore, is very urban, very cosmopolitan, not precisely chic, but elegant nevertheless. We used to have rock chic, and this sells quite a bit to larger crowds who like streetwear – think Diesel or Philippe Plein, but the ICOSAE work is much more elegant and indeed much more URBAIN, in that you can wear it after a ballroom fight, and not before an ordinary fight in a bar. In fact, let’s take that back that it is not chic and call it chic-punk for gentlemen and not for boys who like to play; a sartorial art fit for an interview with the vampire or for some strictly urban pirate’s dream.

In short, this was a very satisfying show, despite the brutal heat – which was largely absorbed by the earth and the grass that had been laid into a 16th arrondissement loft in the form of an actual lawn fit & ready for lawn bowling, croquet, or perhaps even some tennis, but upon wish the models felt quite comfortable.

ICOSAE, so very Parisian pirate urban chic on a summer afternoon. In English just say swag!

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Posted by Sandro and photos by ICOSAE press office.

 

Acne studios indeed is well known for its highly stylized precision and accuracy, and this time around with creative director Jonny Johansson in charge it proved no different: Summers in Sweden are apparently empty and often rainy and seeking shelter one would need a tent or some waterproof cloth which is easily foldable and practical, so there we have the main inspiration for this deliciously provocative summer collection – Nordic minimalism bordering on the scandalous. Wear your tent as a parka or a poncho over your head before taking naked to the lake or the open air sauna – but aye, you are still going to need your rubberized guru slippers to walk over there. And probably a towel. Cap this off with a nice baseball hat against the sun and let your hair flow freely over your shoulders. Smell the good old scent of birch wood perhaps and take a dip. Then drape your poncho or parka back over your body and slip into something comfortable resembling old tablecloth but finely knitted and stitched. Something like made of silk anorak or with striped cotton poplin. Eat some raw fish on crackers.

The Nordic summer fashion dreamland from nature back to home and from home back to nature. Be properly equipped. It is the Nordic equivalent of the Mediterranean look that is so well adopted and so much copied: The day at the beach! The day in the woods at the lake! And best of all: Privacy and no sunglasses needed. Only at Acne Studios.

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Posted by Sandro and photos from Acne Press Office.

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