Sunday, 6 July 2008

Guest post: Daniel Jenkin's thoughts on Paris

We were so happy with the results of our interview with Daniel Jenkins that we couldn't resist asking him whether he would report on Paris fashion week for us... and were pleased as punch when he agreed! The following post is Paris fashion week from an interesting point of view: that of a consumer, admirer and purveyor of men's fashion. The rest of this post is Dan's....

Last week having donned my frippery and finery, packed as much hand luggage as is possible and gotten through security, I headed off for Men’s Fashion week in Paris. Like Euro 2008 but slightly more exciting and this time the British are invited. Milan is lovely, New York is splendid but the real action takes place in Paris. Whether you are into Lanvin or YMC there is no option than to attend. Now I know that makes it sound like it’s a chore and despite my protestations to friends and family that it really is tough going it’s actually my favourite two weeks of the year. It’s also a shining beacon to people in the UK about how men’s fashion could and should be treated.

Kilgour's first show was a highlight for us all - image courtesy of

The week is split up into two distinct groups. The shows and the trade shows. Now like most of you I have to watch the Lanvin or Kilgour show via Lanvin, I really enjoyed, preferred it to last season – which given I couldn’t stop talking about it is some achievement. I was suitably impressed by Kilgour, mostly because I want the Aston they had outside. One of our oldest houses has taken an interesting step in showing. I know it’s been on the cards for a while but I wonder what effect it’ll have on the Savile Row side of the business. In fact I found the Parisian shows fascinating both from a pure fashion but also financial sense. Apart from Milan which is always very luxurious and quite commercial this is the first time we’ve been able to see what effect the supposed ‘credit crunch’ has had. I love the advent of pyjamas. This has been bubbling under for the last few seasons and finally is coming to the fore. Coupled with a slightly more crumpled look, which given my hatred of ironing is a blessing in disguise. Although we’ve been preaching this relaxed gospel for quite some time.

The recent and i collection featured on refinery29

The bulk of my time is taken up with trade shows. Namely Tranoi, Rendez-Vous and, for the first time, New York’s Capsule. This being fashion ‘darhling’ these are unlike anything else. They enable buyers and labels from all over the world to congregate and go through the new collections. Most of our labels are British so I do much of my buying in the UK but the Parisian shows are vital to keep me in tune with what's happening and helping me to unearth some gems.

Tranoi is held in the Palais De La Bourse, which is the old French stock exchange and is suitably impressive. Housing labels as diverse as Ally Capellino, Mackintosh, Limoland. Each season they work with a particular designer to showcase their work. In the past it’s been labels such as Acne. Walter Van Beirendonck was this season's focus with catwalk shows from Bernhard Willhelm. The Van Beirendonck photos outside the venue were amongst the most interesting I’ve seen in a while and acted as a thoughtful tribute to his unique take on fashion.

Away from Haussmann’s grandeur, and deep in the Marais are Rendez-Vous and Capsule. Rendez-vous is split between a couple of sites. Usually slightly industrial and always highly conspicuous. Having gotten hopelessly lost – sat-nav on telephones is not a godsend - I finally found the new venue they were using. This housed labels such as Unconditional, Chronicles of Never, Satyenkumar and Lou Dalton. All of which are taking interesting routes in dealing with the current situation fashion finds itself in. Unconditional’s collection was huge and showed the label's continued march towards Brit fashion domination with the sophistication of the AW08 collection taken even further. Satyenkumar I still believe is the biggest under the radar talent we have in British menswear. The new collection was based on 'old British sea side towns and Romany gypsy fairs’. Mixing a wonderful eye for fabric, colour and texture with wonderful use of cutting and tailoring. The stand next to Satyen’s was occupied by Lou Dalton. Someone whose work we’ve been falling in love with from afar for quite some time. It was nice to get up close and personal with the clothes and meet Louise. Again it was a collection that wore its Britishness proudly without becoming a pastiche. Having spent all day trying to persuade people to allow me to ‘borrow’ samples and a very good meal, I decided to head over to see the new boy.

Now I must confess there has been a lot of talk about Capsule within the industry for a couple of months and I certainly didn’t know what to expect. Would it take the format of the show in New York or try something different? As the mantra goes ‘Location Location Location’ and the setting for the show was something else. I’m not often silenced but this did the trick.

It was housed in the Hotel de Liberal Bruant on the market apparently for 22 Million Euros (damn exchange rate) which is just around the corner from the Place des Vosges, my favourite part of Paris. The interesting thing about Capsule was that it had such a large venue but a really small brand portfolio. Showcasing labels including: April77 (who provided the music and the bad singing), YMC, Won Hundred, Fred Perry, Garbstore, Our Legacy and Vincent Schoepfer – who win the prize for my favourite look book of the season, although Our Legacy aren’t far behind. You probably wouldn’t be surprised how many shows manage to forget we are there to view the garments. This made Capsule refreshing. It also echoed the new spirit that seems to fill the collections. Almost as if they are sticking two fingers up to common perception about what they should do. Me, being the silly romantic fell in love with a few pieces. There was one jacket by YMC, which if Beth from the label didn’t know where I lived, would’ve been straight out of the door with me. Really nice use of pockets and wonderful detailing.

I enjoy being given the ability to meet, chat and swap ideas with the people who deal with and create the collections. Something which a runway presentation never enables you to do. It’s nice to see how much labels are progressing and how far British labels have come. Almost taking the gauntlet laid down by the Scandinavian houses and coming up with something unique. It also interested me that most of the risks were being taken by British Labels.

As well as all this work.... Paris offers the opportunity for a bit of Star Spotting: Kanye was floating about all week. You’ve got to love a chap who visits Paris Fashion Week for his holiday! Shopping: A visit to Colette always does one good. Networking and partying: The Brit Disco again with Colette was really good. I’m noticing a recurring theme here about the emergence of British men's fashion. I’ve got all my fingers crossed. Gordon Richardson expressed it wonderfully in an interview with Dazed Digital when he said he "hoped the focus on men’s fashion was here to stay and .... that there are so many people who are not going to allow it to fail"

Mr Jenkins is on the right
– Stop press: I’ve just looked at Dazed again and there is a picture of me from the party. I must be the only guy blackberrying his mum... Fame at last!


As he has been so kind with his time (and because there's bargains to be had!), it would be remiss of us not to let you all know Daniel Jenkins is having a 50% off sale that started yesterday (5th July). Steve will most certainly top up his sale purchases as he's got the taste for sale shopping now. There are a few things he's looking at, in particular this Satyenkumar shirt and this and i windjammer.


Anonymous said...

Cool post! It is so nice to read about a different side of the shows .

Anonymous said...

sort your grammar out mate


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