PARIS — The French capital, in all its splendor and architectural beauty, was the star of Paris Fashion Week Thursday as houses put on elaborate outdoor displays in some of the city's most iconic squares.
Louis Vuitton used the Place Dauphine by the Pont Neuf bridge to showcase its blooming flower-themed menswear designs.
Guests, including model Gigi Hadid, NBA star Lebron James and actor Joel Edgerton, sat in bistro chairs, sipped Vuitton coffee and ate designer crepes.
The Place des Vosges was Issey Miyake's chosen stage — a rare get, even by fashion week standards. The 17th century square was used with aplomb to put on the Franco-Japanese house's spectacular musical extravaganza in homage to the pleat.
Here are some highlights of the men's spring-summer 2020 collections.
LOUIS VUITTON'S BLOSSOMING BOYHOOD
Bystanders stopped to gawp at the sheer spectacle.
A bouncy castle, balloon sculptures, Louis Vuitton-branded flags and even a Louis Vuitton crepe stand populated the Place Dauphine — a normally quiet square that is well-known among Parisians as strolling territory — for designer Virgil Abloh's spring offering.
This season, Abloh's theme was the blooming flower.
He used it literally in flower garland accessories and in prints of flower bouquets on loose silk twill shirts or on silk hoodies with a street-wise edge.
But he also used it metaphorically to produce a show that was, at its heart, all about growing up as a boy and developing a personal identity.
"Through the stages of boyhood, young men's encounter with clothes and fashion is yet to be influenced by societal programming. Our exploration of dress codes is still liberated... of social norms, gender conventions," Abloh explained.
This idea became the spring board for much experimentation among the 58 looks.
Large straw gardening hats, baggy fuchsia skirts, billowing gray ponchos met white rubber boots and several looked meshed together surreally with a large kite.
But while there were plenty of ideas, there was a hollowness to some looks, which seemed more aimed at delivering a forced message than a wearable
MIYAKE'S PARTY IN THE PARK
If the setting of one of Paris' most beautiful squares seemed grand, the occasion — the runway debut of Issey Miyake's newest line Homme Plisse — was an appropriate one.
It was a show unlike any other.
Models danced with umbrellas, ran, played soccer, tied ribbons around a multicolored maypole and, at the end, embarked on an all-out park carnival, replete with a musical band and drummers.
Even the normally pursed-lipped fashionistas got up to dance.
With all the commotion, some almost forgot their reason for coming: The clothes.
It was a simple, yet effective, collection of loose proportions.
As the brand name suggests ("plisse" means "pleats" in French), the display went all out on bouncing volumes and pleats, which is a house signature.
Indeed, pleats and the use of cutting-edge techniques in fabric construction was originally responsible for making house founder Issey Miyake famous during his 80's heyday.
A simple pair of tubular pants was endowed with a sublime paper-like feel owing to the crisp pleated lines. A loose hooded shirt in blue looked almost regal as the interlocking pleated segments fell and bounced at different angles.
It's still uncertain if the Homme Plisse collection will be a permanent fixture on the Paris calendar.
OWENS EXPLORES MEXICAN HERITAGE
Rick Owens said he was spurred on by U.S. President Donald Trump's policies on the Mexican border wall to explore his own personal Mexican heritage in this season's show.
The references produced a typically funky and complex display, but one that seemed only very loosely based on the Mexican theme.
A key look was the sharp-shouldered tailored silhouette, often against a bare chest.
It featured sometimes with dazzling sequins that Owens said were "like the folkloric skirts my mom wore in school pageants growing up in Puebla, Mexico."
Raised in Southern California by a native Mexican mother, Owens said his father worked with Mexican migrant farm workers — a point that influenced his creative process here.
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The show was set inside the Palais de Tokyo fountain area that features a sculpture by Thomas Houseago, a British contemporary artist who the house said "had been thinking of border walls and Aztec hieroglyphics as well." Hieroglyphic-shaped banding adorned aggressive-looking black pants in wax "megalace," in homage to Houseago.
But other styles, including jumpsuits and silver jackets, merged the universes of Glam Rock and the space age in a stylish mad hat melting pot.
CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN PARTY
Bejeweled red loafers and shoes glimmering with silver leather tassels and speckles of paint were among the newest design ideas by famed shoemaker Christian Louboutin.
The French fashion star showed off his spring 2020 designs during a celebrity-filled circus-themed soiree Wednesday night at Paris' Funfair Museum.
"Riverdale" actor Charles Melton and singer Mika were among guests who munched down popcorn and cotton candy and played wooden fun fair games from yesteryear.
Some posed for selfies with performers on stilts, while others tried their best to avoid clowns who were juggling fire.
Nineties pop singer Robin S of "Show Me Love" fame had revelers hitting the dance floor in a party that went way past already-fatigued fashionistas' bedtime.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamson_K
Thomas Adamson, The Associated Press