Jan 19, 2008
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Catwalk strip at Paris men's fashion

Jan 19, 2008

PARIS, Jan 19, 2008 (AFP) - New star-designer on the block Kris Van Assche pulled the curtain on his autumn-winter collection at the Paris men's shows with a crowd-pleaser Friday January 18th -- the models bowed out stripped down to their underwear.

New star-designer on the block Kris Van Assche, seen here in 2005
Photo : Francois Guillot/AFP

Pulling off shirts and one of the designer's favourite pieces, skinny worn-out pale blue jeans, some of the models were left standing in nothing but another currently emerging fashion favourite -- Scottish tartan.

At almost 32, the young Belgian designer who graduated from the famed Antwerp Arts Academy, was presenting his own vision of next winter's male silhouette just a couple of days before rolling out only his second collection for Dior, where he took over from one of the biggest names in men's fashion, Hedi Slimane.

Van Assche's collection under his own label featured a lot of the same red and blue Highland tartan in shirts and linings that splashed across the Milan catwalks earlier this week and resurfaced in Paris on Thursday January 17th in creations by Yamamoto and Dries Van Noten.

Van Assche's delivery at a show that only started once one of the world's top fashion-writers turned up, 45 minutes behind schedule, was vigorously youthful, featuring jeans and lots of skinny pants with side pockets cut ankle-length above big clumpy boots, often in white.

Suit-jackets were slightly short, coats classically belted or military-style and Kris Van Assche mostly went for greys and blues, as well as a couple of pairs of shiny silver pants and a silvery velours jacket.

Earlier, Britain's Blaak Home designer twosome, Sachiko Okada and Aaron Sharif, who have commissioned for Madonna, Bjork and David Bowie, offered a vision of man next winter that largely stuck to blacks and greys but broke with accepted conventions.

Some shirts were as long as shifts, drifting well below jackets, some suits came as shorts, pants came skinny and boot-top length -- and some again came in tartan.

Layering lengths during their breezy catwalk display in a garage, much as had Dries Van Noten the previous day, the pair used wools, leather and velvet, mixing and matching lengths, fabrics, and tartans with plain colours in a fresh and fluid whirl.

Kenzo held its show in the boxing hall of a Paris stadium, the models walking onto a revolving platform as thunder sounded overhead and a theatrical backdrop played out the theme of the collection, the story of a 19th century Scottish trader who eventually became a samurai.

The Kenzo collection consequently began with pea coats and hunting jackets in heavy worsted wools and flannels and ended in a juxtaposition of Western military regalia embellished with metalwork embroidery evoking the costumes of the Samurai.

In between, as fake snow fell on the hundreds of fashion types present, Kenzo went for sportswear-inspired multi-pocket coats and hand-painted tea-stained T-shirts, merging black, ink blue and earthy browns with flashes of violet, orchid green and mandarine.

by Claire Rosemberg

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