Men’s fashion week, which is actually closer to a fortnight, came to an end last weekend. You might care. You might not. Or, you might have already seen Kylie Jenner cantilevering a foam lion’s head through Paris at the couture shows and promptly deleted Instagram. In any case, I was going to kick off this new-look issue of Fashion Statement by explaining why we write about these shows, because in all honesty, I had the same question before I wrote about them.
But instead I’m going to talk about what they’re like, because that’s the question I get asked most. Yes, these are fashion shows with catwalks and ropey air-con and curious snacks (ginger shots at Givenchy, scotch eggs at the Kenzo do). But the most interesting part – at least to the outside world – is who’s there. Fashion week might be about clothes, and the catwalk might be its red carpet, but the front row is where fashion meets popular culture.
Playing bingo with the cast of The White Lotus season two and Emily in Paris was a particular highlight in Milan and Paris. From the former, Adam DiMarco (Albie) attended his “first runway show!!!” at Prada; Simona Tabasco (Lucia) and Sabrina Impacciatore (Valentina) were radiant at JW Anderson, while Will Sharpe (Ethan) and Theo James (Cameron) were at Emporio Armani and Giorgio Armani, respectively. Meanwhile, we saw Emily in Paris’s Camille Razat (Camille) at Kenzo, Lucien Laviscount (Alfie) wearing a skirt to Louis Vuitton, and Paul Forman (Nicolas) cheering on the hot chef himself, Lucas Bravo, who even modelled in a show.
Things looked fairly even until Sharpe popped up again at Loewe, and a fellow editor saw Leo Woodall (Jack) on the Eurostar. The White Lotus is the better show of the two. And when it comes to sartorial reach, of course it won that too. We can only hope Jennifer Coolidge will do her bit at next month’s women’s shows …
It’s worth bearing in mind that they rarely sit journalists next to celebrities at shows. Usually, we can see them but we can’t touch them, the catwalk playing its Stygian role in keeping us apart. Though at Prada, they usually just hook up a floodlight behind their seats so you’re blinded long before you can steal a glance.
Incidentally, the guest I saw most was the director Luca Guadagnino, who slipped into almost every show in Milan unnoticed, and even went to Paris to watch Loewe. His interest in fashion won’t be news to anyone who’s seen his films. Just look at the mid-80s micro shorts in Call Me By Your Name, or Susie’s printed dress in Suspiria, inspired by Louise Bourgeois drawings. Guadagnino is evidently more into leading trends than creating period costumes and when I spoke to him after the Prada show, he told me his favourite looks were not the big coats but the suede men’s dresses. Later, I spotted him having dinner with the Loewe designer, Jonathan Anderson. All of which is to say, we can expect to see Timothée Chalamet in a dress and some frog wellies at the Oscars.
Sometimes a celebrity appearance is contractual, because the stars are brand ambassadors. The growing prevalence of K-pop acts such as Taeyang at Givenchy, Jimin at Dior and BTS’s Suga at Valentino, are either designed to make me feel old or to show the fiscal pull of the east Asian market. For me, it just makes it more stressful getting to my seat. (The crowds outside Dior were absolutely nuts.)
Compared to the women’s shows, the front row at men’s is usually pleasingly lean: Vogue titans Anna Wintour and Edward Enninful were absent. The only shows the Beckhams attended were Rick Owens and Dior. All this tends to make celebrity sightings all the more juicy. My only real issue is the lack of spoiler alert when the celebrities wear the clothes we are about to see on the catwalk. See: Kylie Jenner and the lion on her wardrobe.
For the labels, it’s also about the halo effect – have the right faces on your front row and the likes will follow. But for the rest of us, it’s simply a sign that we’re quite right in finding this stuff interesting to look at. As for why we cover fashion week, we’ll come to that in due course, don’t you worry. Thanks for reading!
Williamsburg wallet | AKA the new Brooklyn Birkin. It took all of 300 seconds for “thousands and thousands” of Telfar wallets to sell out.
Maxi menswear | Nothing against Harry-Styles in a ballgown, but slightly longer skirts in heavier fabrics, as seen on Lucien Laviscount at Louis Vuitton and Robert Pattinson at Dior as well as Luar, Givenchy and Gucci, are the new winterwear for men.
Pinge | Cooper ruined the fringe by imbuing it with trauma in Emily in Paris. Try Kylie Jenner’s fringe, which is actually just her ponytail folded over the front. Non-committal chicness.
Corsages | Spotted on Eddie Redmayne and Emma D’Arcy at the Golden Globes and on the spring/summer ’23 runways of Prada and Bottega Veneta. Blousy roses and pepped up peonies are key. Head to Etsy to emulate.
Spenny basics | $70 for a plain, white tank top? TikTok says it’s fine. We blame Prada for kickstarting this trend.
FOMadonna | We get it. You’ve got a ticket. Now enough with the Material Girl posts!
Pencil-thin brows | Trust us millennials: pluck like Rita Ora and you’ll live to regret it.
Tablescaping | Fireplaces and fireplacing – ie what you pop on your mantlepiece – is the new surface. Colourful glass candlestick holders, dried flowers and donut vases are all over Instagram. Try thrifting for a cheaper take.
Reads of the week
Refinery29 looks at what happened to bath bomb aficionados Lush, since the company went “off-grid”.
Is the variety show Tomorrow! the new MTV: Unplugged, asks Nylon.
Want to walk 250% faster? Wired puts the world’s fastest shoes to the test.
#CoreCore is the new core to name drop. Vice explores how making collages out of internet content has gone viral.
What to click
Piano forte: Cate Blanchett strikes a chord with power chic fashion in Tár
Low-rise waistlines: the return of Y2K’s most debauched trend
Dior revives the spirit of Josephine Baker as its catwalk guiding light
Gen Z yellow: will young people ever embrace the new ‘it’ color?
Paris men’s fashion week AW23: the highlights – in pictures
Jess Cartner-Morley solves your wardrobe dilemmas
Q: How should I tie my scarf? Simon, 34, Manchester
A: Great question, Si. I am writing this dispatch from the Paris couture shows, where it is even colder than London. Here, everyone folds their scarf lengthways and pulls the two ends together through the loop. Yup, exactly like Emmanuel Macron.
Don’t love this look – nothing personal, Monsieur President, I find the asymmetry displeasing – but it does look vaguely polished. Here is my alternative suggestion. Start with the scarf draped so it falls evenly on each side, then loop each length once. Not too tight. Fluff out the ends so that they aren’t sad and scruffy. Not Rowan Atkinson gift-wrapping in Love Actually, just a little zhuzh. Now, run! Or you’ll miss your train.
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