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M: Alex Badia's Show Diaries 2014

Hello, Kanye! My cappuccino-driven tour of the new collections, feat. John Varvatos, Ermenegildo Zegna, Versace, Gucci, Armani, and Thom Browne.

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Menswear issue M Spring 2014

Day Seven—Paris

 

I am sleeping, and sleeping, and sleeping, and I miss my gym window. I am not happy this way. I get up and head almost immediately to the Junya Watanabe show—it’s an explosion of British references, from country-gent foxhunting to ’70s glam. Love those Ziggy Stardust headpieces and colorful kicker boots…


Next is Maison Martin Margiela. And look there, it’s Will Smith. Hello again, Fresh Prince! I like the bright blue raincoat and the biker jacket made out of diving vests…


Ah, Givenchy! One of my favorites. As soon as I arrive, I meet the two nice-looking German bears known as DJ Discodrom. They invite me to see them spin at their favorite party, called Snax. Apparently, it is an all-black-leather fetish rave. Hmmm. I tell them that, for me, wearing black leather requires a total emotional commitment and stability that I am not sure I possess at the moment. Back to the show. Givenchy this season is totally major…


The collection appears on a set resembling a New York City basketball court. Sharp tailoring pieces are paired with baggy sweatpants. Also, we have awesome parkas in fine leathers, and athletic jerseys. Riccardo Tisci knows what his consumer wants. I join the throng congratulating him backstage, and I see Kanye West standing behind me in a floor-length fur coat. I overhear him say that he cannot wait to wear everything he has just seen. I introduce myself, telling him I loved Yeezus. He smiles and says thank you. He seems very, very shy…


Fashion week can be lonely (#emotionallyneedy), and I am growing tired of all the same peeps. I am in desperate need of a fake new best friend, and so I am thrilled—while taking a seat at the Comme des Garçons show—to meet a girl who immediately starts telling me all about her life. She is a Canadian living in Paris, and she tells me that you don’t really need to have a big love affair here, because the city is so romantic and your main relationship is with Paris itself. Very Carrie Bradshaw. That kind of thinking, I suggest, allows for an enhanced inner sluttishness. She says yes, yes, but French men smell, and they are also compulsive cheaters. I love this conversation, mainly because I think generalizations should
become an Olympic sport…


The show is focused on dark old-world tailoring. Leave it to Rei Kawakubo to add a touch of strangeness by outfitting the models with masks made of hair, in the shape of gas masks…


We run to Berluti to see the first formal runway show since the brand launched ready-to-wear. Designer Alessandro Sartori applies his Made in Italy look to the ensemble, splashing the statement coats with rich browns, burgundies, and beiges. Three-piece suits (a seasonal trend) in tweed and double-breasted tuxedos ensure an ultrasophisticated look…


In the evening, I attend the party thrown by Ladyfag and Josh Wood to celebrate the Givenchy show. I arrive too late for the meal, so I sit in the dark and sip a red-wine dinner (my food journal is burning with lies). The whole thing is like a fashion Love Boat, with a hint of acid. #memorable…


Afterward, I tell the driver to take me to the Pigalle, where, in my late-nineties youth, I saw my first drag queen at a tiny discotheque of dubious reputation. Sadly, the little hole-in-the-wall club is now a store. #melancholy…

Day Eight—Paris


At 7:30, I hit the hotel gym. I do my thing while listening to Daft Punk. I show off some of my dance moves to the cute Chinese couple in spandex. They didn’t see it coming…


When I get dressed, I am a little pissed because I have to wear my second outfit option: I have seen too many fashion queens wearing the Dries pants I was planning to wear on this day. But what do you expect? We all drink from the same fashion fountain…


Kenzo stages a show that demonstrates why this once-sleepy brand has become a cult phenomenon. Wow. The exit by the street is filled with screaming French girls who hope to glimpse the Korean pop stars who were in attendance. I know nothing of K-Pop and I am #feelingold…


Sacai is next. It’s a Japanese brand that is quickly becoming a fashion darling. The collection has some nice collegiate references. I especially like the toggle coats…


On to the Acne presentation. The main look features an urban snowboarder with baggy pants, zippers at the bottom. Also, some futuristic parkas…


Dior’s backstage preview is next. Kris Van Assche takes us through a collection that mixes three-button suits with lux streetwear elements (military-inspired parkas and jeans). The flow is great. Kendrick Lamar is front row…


After Dior, it is time for A.P.C. This is always an amusing appointment because the brand’s owner, Jean Touitou, personally takes us through the collection in an intimate setting. Touitou has the Parisian attitude of “I don’t really care,” but he is brilliant and funny. Kanye West, who has collaborated with A.P.C., is standing in the middle of the room. I ask him a couple of questions, but he does not answer. Not even a sound. So after a silence, followed by more silence, I repeat that I loved his last album. He smiles and says, “Thank you very much.”


Touitou starts showing the collection based on re-creating the looks of Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs, and Kurt Cobain. He then introduces Kanye, whose voice breaks a bit when he begins talking about the collection. Perhaps suffering a slight case of nerves, he focuses directly on one person as he speaks. And guess what? He chooses me, of course…


After a moment, he calms down, probably thanks to my serenity gaze. He doesn’t talk much about the clothes but more about how people typecast him as a singer and rapper and don’t take him seriously as a designer. It is endearing...


Hermès delivers a lovely show, with three-button suits and slouchy topcoats. The use of rich leather, part of the brand’s DNA, is prevalent. I could totally use some of those clothes. Maybe one day…


The last show of the day is Alexandre Mattiussi’s Ami. The set resembles a vintage postcard of a snowy Paris square with gas streetlamps. The lineup focuses on his relaxed approach to Parisian street chic. How can you not like it?


Dinner at Anahi, the Argentinean restaurant. We have a blast! Meat and mojitos with friends. The conversation centers on fashion, sex, magazines, sex, plastic surgery, models, Rihanna vs. Beyoncé, and sex. Olivier Rousteing is a wonderful host, very playful and funny, more friend than business relation. This is how it is in the menswear business. There is a sense of camaraderie, with just enough of a hint of bitchiness to keep you on your toes. But it’s a friendly atmosphere. Women’s fashion, on the other hand, is like The Hunger Games…

Day Nine—Paris


I am freaking out. Today is the last day of shows, and, after having seen so many runways, I now speak only fashion as a mother tongue…


On to the Lanvin show, where Alber Elbaz and his men’s designer, Lucas Ossendrijver, push the brand’s boundaries by wedding a New Wave aesthetic (bright pink bomber jacket, lightning prints, skinny ties) to traditional tailoring. #obsessed…


We hit Umit Benan. This is the first time he has shown in Paris. His collection, inspired by Jackie Robinson, results in a handsome lineup of old-school dandies in three-piece suits with high-waisted pants. I love when designers play with American heritage…


We hit Paul Smith, who is totally channeling Jim Morrison with a hint of psychedelia for his fall collection. Next, we enter the fable-like realm of Thom Browne, who presents an array of impeccably tailored tweed and flannel suits in all variations of menswear patterns, worn with fantasy headwear, including deer antlers, rabbit ears, and even an elephant head. Wild…


The last show of the season is Saint Laurent. Anna Wintour is front row. Hedi Slimane continues with the ultra-skinny rocker teddy-boy look but adds some traditional English check fabrics in raglan-sleeve coats and handsome trenchcoats…


The lights go on, and just like that—it’s all over. I say my good-byes and get in the car. My driver, Gerard Galy, has been taking me through Paris for more than seven years now, but I realize I don’t know much about him. So, we are having our usual small talk on the way back to the hotel when I venture to ask him about his youth. After a couple of short answers, Gerard opens up at last. You won’t believe it, but he was once an actor who worked with Gérard Depardieu and Alain Delon (small parts, but speaking parts, he says). He even appeared in three scenes of a Dallas episode, when Bobby Ewing goes to Paris in search of his missing wife. Unbefuckinglievable! Then we speak of life decisions, regrets, and the importance of letting go in order to be happy. And then it hits me. I am having an intense personal talk with a Parisian. It has taken me only seven years, but it is pretty major.


Let me spell it for you: M-A-J-O-R.

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