IN THE TRENCHES
An on the ground report of Paris Fashion Week Men’s by Leisure Center’s Web Content Editor, Theo Mohamed.
In the past three to four years, fashion has become increasingly integrated into popular culture. As a result, there are more people following fashion, and the people that drive it, than there ever have been in history. This fact is perhaps most well represented through the cultural phenomenon that Paris fashion week has become. Four weeks out of every year, brands based across Europe, Japan, and even the Americas, present the newest concepts in fashion for the seasons ahead in the French capital. What was once merely a week of appointments, fashion shows, and business, has become a veritable festival of music, fashion, and culture at large. I had the pleasure of travelling to Paris for men’s fashion week this June to assist in the showroom of a burgeoning South Korean brand and decided to also document a report of what Paris becomes over the course of fashion week.
The first thing I noticed upon my arrival on the 19th of June was the feeling of life that filled every corner of the city. As the streetstyle “movement” has permeated the lives of so many people, more and more of them are deciding to voyage to France in late June for the sole purpose of getting dressed. When walking the streets on any given day in the area surrounding the Marais, you are likely to see more people dressed up than you would in any other place at any other time in your life. The result of this phenomenon is a spike in energy and excitement as all these bodies roam the streets looking for places to have their photographs taken and other members of the so-called elite to add to their “network”. All this movement makes for a slumber-phobic environment where no matter the night, it would feel as though you’re missing out if you choose to head to bed before 2AM.
In addition to the sheer concentration of human energy, it is easy to come by alcohol in Paris, though it is significantly more challenging than you would think to find food after midnight. Even if your stomach is empty, you can order a well priced bottle of natural wine - the new drink of choice for the initiated socialite - or an ice cold beer if you prefer at any number of the cafes that regularly operate until the early hours of the morning. With the drinks coursing through your veins, and the conversation about the newest shows flowing with ease, there is no reason to think about anything but right here and right now.
To further stir the already chaotic environment, there are dance parties and club events being held almost every night. Look and you will find them, and even if you don’t, you may stumble into one entirely out of coincidence.
What I found to be the most interesting part of my time in Paris was that the energy surge brought by fashion socialites is finite. The fashion shows themselves wrap-up Sunday night (which was the 23rd of June this time around) and the next day the city feels entirely different. Many members of the industry stay several days longer as they still have real business to attend to but most of the people who feed the fire of unending energy are gone by this point. You can feel it in the air, at least I did, on Monday morning.
In the limbo that is the three to four days after the shows have finished, many of the brand showrooms have somewhat more open schedules. I had the pleasure of visiting the Ziggy Chen showroom (coming to Leisure Center for Fall/Winter 2019) during this time and received a preview of what is to come for Spring/Summer 2020. The brand draws upon the international influence that arrived in Ziggy Chen’s native Shanghai over the course of the early twentieth century and though many heritage details serve as starting points, each piece feels slightly futuristic. Perhaps it is the highly advanced textiles; whether it be an ultra lightweight cotton canvas triple coated in polyurethane to be completely waterproof or the metallized linens and wools that hold beautiful heat set crinkle surfaces. Every aspect of Ziggy’s line is crafted with meticulous precision and you would be hard pressed to find a single stitch out of line. Though all pieces were initially cut and sewn locally within Shanghai, the brand is now having to look towards production in Italy due to the unfortunate trade war that is brewing between the US and China. It is sad to see how these large political upheavals can affect an artisan like Ziggy in a negative way but it is plain to see that he, and the brand, will persevere through these trying times.
In closing, I would like to highlight just how enlightening of a city Paris turned out to be. Coming from Vancouver, a comparatively small city, whose cultural influence is only just beginning to emerge, to one of the world’s cultural epicentres was extremely jarring in the best ways possible. Culture runs deep through the streets of Paris and the people who live there love to live. Unlike many places in North America, Paris is not a city where it is easy to stay home and watch a movie at night. It is a place of experience and connection and expansion. There is no way to put the feeling of energy into words, it is something that must be experienced.