Urban Renewal


City slickers in razor-sharp suits and tough-looking urbanites competed with gentler, breezier outfits in shows featuring next spring's menswear collections.

In his second season for Dior, Hedi Slimane made a hit with his clothes for urban guys. Large V-necked, cap-sleeved looks in satin, sateen and leather, tied with wide oriental-style belts, were worn kimono-style over body-clinging trousers. Marching like warriors to music that thumped like a beating heart, men dressed in red and black stalked down a silvery runway during last weekend's show in an old converted market building. Slimane has somewhat softened his approach after his dark, androgynous and body-hugging debut last season. But the clothes still have his own cachet, trimly tailored cuts and attention to details.

Tom Ford's line for Yves Saint Laurent was aimed at city slickers--a far cry from the urban warriors of Slimane, the former designer for YSL. Shining with silver threads, Ford's slim, fitted suits in white, black or gray were topped with tilted trilby hats in a bow to the clean elegant lines of the Jazz Age. Shirts with a colorful motif or simply sprinkled with wildflowers were prominent in these collections.

Paul Smith showed boldly floral numbers that resembled English curtain chintz or wallpaper. He also offered outsize polka dots, which wouldn't turn an eyelash in Miami Beach. Franck Boclet for Francesco Smalto didn't mess around with tiny chintz prints; he planted a giant pink cabbage rose on the chest of a disco-collared white dress shirt, and he put the shirt with a pair of high-rise slacks with a wide belt.

Comic relief was found at Shirtology, a French team showing at a loft whose entrance looked like an ancient Egyptian museum. The men wore teeny turquoise and chartreuse bikinis, some covered with silver-belted Egyptian-style skirts. Others wore velour pants and breast plates decorated with plastic feathers. The hit was a model named Aziz, a star of the popular French reality show "Loft Story," whose participants live together and get voted out by viewers.

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac went for racing glamour with models hanging out in a glossy Lamborghini showroom. The presentation was dedicated to Steve McQueen. Dressed in sharp whites, basic blues, yellow and red stripes, these racers in their blazers, jumpsuits or neat short-waisted jackets looked readier for the country club than the gritty track.

The Louis Vuitton show by Marc Jacobs was, as usual, a tribute to grand luxe and what money can buy. The cigarette-slim jeans in cotton denim looked perfect, paired with cotton jersey tank tops, well-cut satin cotton jackets or leather motorcycle jackets covered with silvery zippers. Both street-wise and luxurious, this collection has in mind the rich young uptown man--or daring middle-ager--who wants to look fashionably hip.

(E1) Looking Cool in the Hot Season

With summer barely underway, the men's fashions presented by designers during the last week in Paris seemed curiously in sync with the weather. (Like Australia, the fashion business is confused about the seasons. Usually, spring clothes are shown in the fall and fall clothes are shown in the spring. However, these clothes are intended for the spring/summer season of 2002.)

The bright red suits, above, are by Hedi Slimane, in his second collection for Christian Dior. At right, a slick city look and narrow silhouette is by the American designer Tom Ford, in his collection for Yves Saint Laurent. At left, clothes from the house of Hermes would not be out of place at an ice cream social.

As always, the great menswear question remains: Will real men actually don these duds? Story on Page 2.

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