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Paris Menswear Report
Slimane Suits Up For Summer - click for photos
Written by Timothy Hagy

Dior Homme

PARIS, July 5 - For anyone counting, the Spring / Summer 2005 collection was the eighth signed by Hedi Slimane for Dior Homme, and in a perpetuum mobile of young men on the march, energy just keeps pulsing through the label. Hedi has become not only the world's most important men's wear stylist, but also one of the most influential and respected designers of our time. Witness the mélange of fashion's editorial elite (some who almost never set foot in a men's show), designers, artists, and stars that filled the charcoal gray bleachers set up in the Musée de l'Homme on Monday afternoon.

As the sun slowly began to fall behind the Eiffel tower, summer light poured through the filtered western windows in the Trocadéro. Pierre Bergé was one of the first to arrive with Betty Catroux. The invariably prickly Bergé said of his spiritual child: "It's not Dior Homme - it's Hedi I always come to see". The co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent couture was soon followed by Karl Lagerfeld, whose wrists were wrapped in diamond-sapphire bracelets, fingers adorned with antique sterling rings.

Then there was André Leon Talley beside Grace Coddington. "This is only my second Dior Homme show," explained American Vogue's Editor-at-Large, "but I know I'll love it."

Yves Carcelle, President of Louis Vuitton and a client of Dior Homme, sat along the same row as French film star Emmanuelle Seigner. And finally, Bernard and Hélène Arnault with Antoine Arnault shared a section with Sydney Toledano, President of Dior Couture.

As the lights came up, and the music commissioned for the show by Beck burst over high-voltage speakers, out marched the boys. The thin, elegant silhouette has not changed, but the erotically low trousers and razor-cut are all that remain of the initial Dior Homme profile. Gone are the sequins, lurex, pins and chains, and in is a more somber, yet powerfully charged look that captures the very essence of youth. Add an occasional beaded necklace or swirling scarf, shirt tails falling over jeans for good measure, and you have the Dior Homme of today. Ironically, just as other designers are copying Hedi's earlier work, he's moved on to another take - exquisitely cut suits, luscious pastel colors, and a whole new mindset about how men dress. But the secret that elevates his street-smart clothes to the level of couture is the detail and finish - as in the pleats the streamed down the breast of a slate-gray blazer. "That's part of the tradition of the House," an awesomely relaxed Hedi Slimane explained backstage. "That was Christian Dior's idea, and I reworked it."

The colors are what stand out in this collection. Such delicious shades of oyster gray, sea foam green, dusty rose and brilliant fuchsia were subtly worked into the black and gray palette that framed the show. Then there was a raspberry-color leather blazer for the brave of heart, and a greenish-gray tuxedo (the color of the ocean on a stormy day) trimmed with a rounded black satin lapel.

Karl Lagerfeld, dressed in a new silk Dior Homme tuxedo jacket and knee-high riding boots, raised a jeweled and manicured hand. "The jackets," he said, "that's what I liked best - but I guess I'm just a coat and tie kind of guy."

It was left to Sydney Toledano to seize on the real meaning of Monday's show. "It's amazing," he said. "Each season Hedi keeps so much energy going."

Slimane Suits Up For Summer - click for photos
Dior, Gaultier, Kenzo, Marongiu, Matsushima, Paul Smith, Petrov, Dubuc, Simons, Vuitton

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