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Paris Menswear Report
Groundbreaking - click for photos
Written by Timothy Hagy, photography courtesy of Philippe Dubuc

PARIS, July 2 - On Friday, as buyers, journalists and models were still streaming in from Milan, the Paris men's wear shows for Spring / Summer 2005 officially cast off. If collective nerves were on edge, perhaps the three-year downturn in the market, a summer upturn in the terror alert, and a turnabout in political fortunes have all contributed to put fashion under pressure.

The Milan shows offered any number of colorful escapes, almost as if designers were desperately attempting to conjure up an imaginary world of explorers, cowboys or the perennial playboy pool party - anything that might appeal to buyers eager to erase the damage done to the industry on 9/11. That dust is still settling.
But on Sunday, July 4, midway through the Paris men's season, groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Liberty Tower at ground zero will mark a turnaround for the City of New York.

In fashion terms, Paris has always been an experimental laboratory, and in a sense that implies looking forward and not back, and so opening day here featured any number of avante garde, often young, or emerging designers sending their work out on to an increasingly crowded and unsteady catwalk.

Petar Petrov chose a whitewashed space beneath skylights, a slick aluminum runway and walls decorated with graffiti posters in which to present his edgy, modern collection. The young Austrian designer seems caught in a conundrum - how to pull away from the long shadow of Helmut Lang while still following in his footsteps. Some of Petrov's lemony shorts were certainly minimalist, and though he ingeniously worked fishnet into sweaters, or juicy key lime cut outs into T-shirts, on the whole the show was a little slack.

In the sprawling gardens of the residence of the Ambassador of Canada, Philippe Dubuc served his guests iced Moët et Chandon Brut Royal, and then presented them a polished collection pulsating sensuously with erotic undertones. From sleek gray tails worn with tight britches and high riding boots, to plunging V-cut shirts and backless vests, the show packed heat. But it was meticulously worked details - as in shirts with layering of appliqué, pants with ribbons of satin snaking down the inseams, or evening jackets glazed with abstract patterns - that made for the secret ingredient. With a palette of charcoal, ebony and snowy white, the beauty was not in the color, but in the details. Dubuc is a designer with a very bright future, which is the elusive ideal that the fashion world most craves.

Groundbreaking - click for photos
Dior, Gaultier, Kenzo, Marongiu, Matsushima, Paul Smith, Petrov, Dubuc, Simons, Vuitton

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