For all that designers have worked up a collective lather trying to get at the millennial consumer (and there were some terrific jeans in high-waist, full-leg cuts aimed at those guys), the commercial exigencies of a house like Dior Homme count on the inevitable maturation of Generation Z. The perma-adolescent look of sweatpants and hoodies may work for now. But, eventually, Mr. Van Assche seemed to be betting, the time comes to man up.
A generalized fatigue with athleisure was an underlying theme at the shows here, sometimes expressed in unintentionally humorous ways. Backstage before Alexander McQueen, the designer Sarah Burton spoke of how elements of classic British tailoring are hard-wired into the house’s identity. Mostly that meant a collection replete with suit jackets whose “exploded” silhouette amounted to a slight amplification of the usual hourglass McQueen proportions and lavish deployment of woolen weaves (chalk stripe and windowpane checks) one associates with Savile Row.
Asked whether, like many, she had wearied of the cliché deployed by a lot of designers now — track pants paired with a jacket as a bastard form of suiting — Ms. Burton nodded. “That isn’t in the McQueen vocabulary at all,” she said. Soon enough the show started, and there, along with her typically impeccable offerings, like a handsome scarlet woolen parka, fat shearlings and military-type greatcoats, were jackets paired with luxurious woolen track pants, striped up the side.
Back in the 1970s, when Andy Warhol was making regular trips to Paris with his business manager, the Texan Fred Hughes, to scour the Clignancourt flea market for underappreciated Art Deco treasures and the society salons for portrait commissions, Warhol used to refer to a kind of attire he encountered on European men as “the rich look.”
Berluti was a venerable but obscure high-end Italian cobbler then. It had not yet been acquired and repurposed by LVMH to furnish a new generation of prosperous men with the rich look. By now we are well into a transformation effected by several designers under the guidance of Antoine Arnault, the LVMH scion, and the Berluti label is a definitive sartorial marker of how the other one-half of 1 percent lives.