Paris Menswear July 06

PARIS, June 30, 2006 - On the pedestrian bridge that joins the left bank of Paris with the old Renaissance close of the Louvre, crowds of mostly young people were strolling around on Friday afternoon. One couple stopped petting long enough to take in the series of weatherproofed acrylic paintings mounted on both sides of the guardrails-become-gallery. Art happens in the most unusual places and circumstances, and there's something about it all that is quintessentially French.

Sonia Rykiel knows something about art. Her summer collection, shown on the sweltering opening day of Paris men's fashion week, was full of effects of rose, hot and powdery, shimmering ebony evening wear, and shirts brushed full of abstract metallic designs. But it was the layering of suits, some worn with shirt and tie, the tail of a long knit sweater falling over shorts, that gave the collection its complexity. The runway of black sand, the copious amounts of cool sportswear, the paper-thin swim wear, and even the pair of hot pink Bermuda shorts could not have fit in better with the weather. The normally immaculate fashion crowd looked strained, as many a starched white shirt seemed to melt in the heat of the École des Beaux Arts.

Program notes spoke of a Parisian essence revisited, and a provocative poetic spirit. All of that was true, but the real beauty of the collection was it's sleek modernity. The Paris of today was awash in it, sparkling like sunlight reflecting on the Seine.

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