Berluti A/W 2019 Paris Fashion Week Men’s
Mood board: The recent drift towards dissecting the archives to define new design has led to some tricky terrain. Raf Simons sent poster-size invitations to his A/W 2015 show that read: ‘To the archives, no longer relevant’ – yet his collection upped the ante on self-referencing. Demna Gvasalia of Vetements and Balenciaga happily reissues the best of the 1990s no matter who might have done it first. Berluti was established in Paris in 1895 and has been built by four generations of shoemakers; its foray into ready-to-wear is relatively nascent. Since 2011 the house has expanded its offering, putting its exquisite leather know-how to good use. In his first Berluti show as artistic director, Kris Van Assche cut loose from the venerated codes of an ancient house. There was a new freedom to his look that was still rendered in a hard-line, strict sensuality.
Scene setting: The show was staged in the gilded halls of the Opéra Garnier – models walked up the marble staircase, looping around the alcoves in adventurously audacious couplings. Rows of artisans who work in the fashion house’s manifattura in Ferrara lined the staircase, proudly wearing their worn, leather aprons. Each had their own patina of wear, time and skill. Inspired by the old marble tables at which craftsmen sit and hand-dye the patina of shoes, Van Assche’s collection takes its hues from the stains of their surfaces.
Best in show: The classic Alessandro shoe hand-crafted from one piece of leather was reimagined with sculptural caps, recalling the faces of diamonds. A white sneaker was created with the same artisanal attitude. Photographs of dye-splattered marble were printed on silk shirts and nylon bags. Tailoring was the major focus, in soft calfskin and jacquard or structured in exotic skins. The line had a strong, defined silhouette with a wide shoulder and narrow waist either worn with slim trousers with zip openings at the front cuff or with logoed motocross patchwork pants. Sculptural clutches and attaché cases looked like the chassis of fast sports cars.