x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Paris hints at bright prints, stripes and patterns for men

Menswear has never had it so good. At the Spring/Summer 2013 shows, the mood was uplifting. A vibrant colour palette welcomed a change from the normal sea of grey.

Poor old fellows, fashion isn't so kind to you is it? Aside from a few common old clichés, you definitely take the role of understudy.

The problem is that elegance and masculinity don't work particularly well together. It's not often a menswear show gets a standing ovation or makes the audience gasp in admiration.

However, fret not, as there seemed to be a new, more hopeful whiff in the air at the Spring/Summer 2013 shows that proved - if it continues to develop at such a rate - that all will be fair in love, war and fashion after all.

While it may feel as if most of the world is crumbling, a sorry no-man's land of austerity and a time of less, it was clear that menswear has, in fact, never had it so good. At the shows, the mood was uplifting. A vibrant colour palette welcomed a change from the normal sea of grey as it made room for an array of playful pattern.

But what should we expect in the joyful season ahead? Let's start with print because, love it or loathe it, there will not be much of anything else. At Dries van Noten, there was a slightly more feminine tone than in previous seasons - fabrics were flighty, and included a camouflaged lace that sparked interest among the buyers.

The ever-reoccurring nautical trend was a huge influence at Louis Vuitton in what was yet another mammoth collection. It included experimental waterproof fabrics and anchor motifs - all the kind of luxury you would expect from Vuitton.

The trend continued over at Dior, where a series of Breton stripe knits and parkas were to be seen in a colour spectrum that resembled the deep sea - all suggesting that the trend may be the one to hit the high street first.

Perhaps as a carry-on from the Americana mood in womenswear popularised by Prada this season, the 1950s American sportswear theme borrowed elements from traditional baseball wear, using buttery, soft leather in pastel shades paired with a turn-up jean. Shirts were fully buttoned, shorts hit just above the knee and were belted, and shoes came in the form of traditional loafers worn, of course, without socks.

Oversized leather holdalls were the bag of choice in a rich mahogany or soft grey. Florals (stay with me here, boys) were in full bloom as they paraded head-to-toe unapologetically at the normally restrained Calvin Klein. They were closely followed by Bottega Veneta. Yet it was not just any old floral; what we are looking out for is a real hothouse flower - the bigger the better.

Digitally mastered roses appeared at Christopher Kane, who has recently expanded his menswear collection to include a denim collaboration with J Brand, and at Balenciaga, a distorted digital floral was inspired by the avant-garde Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. Of course, there was the "I dare you if you are brave enough" moment, which came from Emporio Armani with his ever-so-short shorts that frighteningly seemed to gain momentum as the week progressed.

You see, that is part of the problem with menswear. On paper, it all looks great, but when it comes to the physical translation, it is often lost. Unlike womenswear, the trends often work only when used as a brief reference point or by borrowing snippets rather than going all out.

Once this is understood, as always, there is a little more room to play with things. Perhaps we have hit a more positive place when it comes to menswear and there is no doubt that many of the former taboos have been expelled.

The bottom line is that there are still boundaries, boys, there are still boundaries.

ktrotter@thenational.ae