Left of Rive Gauche
By Timothy Hagy
PARIS, January 28 - The big surprise of the Paris men's wear shows this season
was the strong showing by Sonia Rykiel on Friday afternoon. By the time her finale
for Rykiel Homme revved up the runway, fashion editors were purring praise.
Looking Tallulah Bankhead-esque in a voluptuous mohair coat, Sonia sat front
row waiting for the show to begin. "I like working with men's wear," she
said. "Because I like men - especially well dressed ones." She
had lots of company.
And what was to come was a completely madeover line that could have been
an episode of 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy'. The look was seemingly aimed
at dudes who drink Chardonnay, eat free-range chicken, made a contribution
by Internet to the Kerry campaign, and were thinking of fleeing north to
Canada. The Bohemian-looking collection was left of Rive Gauche, heading
right for the liberal bastions of Blue America - Santa Monica, Provincetown,
Portland, OR and Charlottesville, VA. With boutonnières blossoming
in daffodils, roses and camellias, bow ties shining with polka-dot prints,
breast pockets overflowing with colorful scarves, and feathers floating from
the caps, the boys hit the runway in a kaleidoscope of color. The mixing
of textures and colors gave an eccentricity that looked to have come straight
from the decadent post-war 20s, the era so often captured in print by Evelyn
Waugh. Tweed, flannel, and cashmere found their way onto oversized trousers
wrapped tightly around the models' ultra-thin waists, while fox and rabbit
foamed seductively. Colorful scarves curled around the neck, and a sequined
dusty rose evening jacket, well - that was probably for the bravest of heart.
The look were not camp, just cool, so it's no surprise that every gay-owned boutique
in the Paris Marais district features Rykiel Homme as top shelf offering. This
collection would be a good starting point for any man, of any sexual preference,
looking for friends with benefits.