Paris Fashion Week: Adam Kimmel mines the mysteries of the Pacific Northwest

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Adam Kimmel was the second designer at Paris Fashion Week to explicitly reference the ouevre of David Lynch (the first was Paul Helbers at Louis Vuitton). Kimmel’s presentation drew on that peculiar ‘Twin Peaks’ vibe of mystery and uneasiness, with the expectation that something unseemly was lurking behind the next redwood.

But FBI agent Dale Cooper and company were just part of the equation. (Remember: The owls are not what they seem.) The major inspiration behind Kimmel’s Pacific Northwest collection was artist Dan Attoe, a painter and sculptor (and founder of the Paintallica art group) whose work taps into the gritty underbelly of the world where the highway curves through the giant redwood forests and motorcycle punk meets mysticism.

Although Attoe’s artwork, including towering stands of trees and Bigfoot creatures, appear on T-shirts,

scarves and sweaters, most of the influences are a more subtle nod to the ‘things aren’t as they seem’ motif, like the hip-length hunting jacket that converts into a full-length trench coat (convertible outerwear pieces like this were a key trend in both Milan and Paris this season), washed speckle-wool blazers and leather motorcycle jackets with zip-off sleeves and zip-out quilted flannel liners. Come to think of it, the collection itself can be unzipped into two different themes. One is represented by Attoe: the motorcycle/mechanic with garments such as one-piece coveralls, cashmere thermal waffle-pattern sweaters and trousers color-blocked to look like riding leathers.


The second layer is pure ‘Twin Peaks’ -- the sinister look of the well-dressed stranger: double-breasted blazers, necktie and shirt patterns from a bygone era (it looked like the ‘40s to us), with bolo ties, scarves and overcoats to complete the look.

Kimmel’s facile unzipping, zipping and snapping together of the twin inspirations mirror exactly what the menswear collections have been about this season: luxury brands trying to add value by making each piece, in essence, two or more pieces.

And whether the art of Dan Attoe or the memory of ‘Twin Peaks’ is going to be your cup of tea (or your ‘damn fine cup of coffee,’ as the case may be) remains to be seen. As Kimmel’s collection underscores, when fall 2011 rolls around, most high-end menswear brands will have something unexpected right beneath the surface, or lurking behind the giant redwood trees.

-- Adam Tschorn in Paris