From a matronly silk scarf knotted over the shoulders to a jogging suit in purple duchess satin, Paris menswear designers are challenging traditional notions of masculinity by borrowing elements from the female wardrobe.
The Lanvin ready-to-wear show, held on Sunday in an ornate salon of the five-star Crillon hotel, delivered a sophisticated take on the skinny trousers and cropped jackets currently in vogue with the trendsetting youngsters of the Paris rock scene.
Models with seamless felt caps, cocked at a jaunty angle, paraded in smart tailored coats paired with satin high-top sneakers _ the type of esoteric mix that has made Lanvin a favorite with influential fashion editors.
Lucas Ossendrijver, who designs the menswear line under artistic director Alber Elbaz, said he was inspired by jogging suits, which were reworked in crinkled black leather with a ribbed brown cuff or in heavy satin, traditionally a couture fabric.
"We did it in a way that's very masculine but never macho," he told reporters after the show. "It's about being modern _ what's needed for a guy today to be modern and not be too dressed up and not be too casual."
That meant floaty silk ties or cravats worn skew-whiff, the better to convey the wearer's insouciance. Standouts from this autumn-winter collection included a crinkled black satin trenchcoat and a sharkskin parka with matching slim pants.
It was all part of the dandified new approach to men's fashion that puts the onus on luxurious detail.
Ariel Wizman, the French DJ and man-about-town, said being a dandy was about defying expectations.
"It's about playing with codes and escaping typecasting," said Wizman, who was spinning the decks at Lanvin wearing a three-piece suit and tie.
"Dandyism is about not giving people exactly what they want. You can be a dandy and be very modern."
By that definition, Belgian designer Dries Van Noten was bang on trend with his collection late on Saturday, which drew inspiration from 1980s hip-hop _ a world seemingly miles removed from his painterly aesthetic.
But in Van Noten's hands, even that era's in-your-face bling took on an eccentric connotation, as models emerged with Versace-style printed silk scarves casually slung over matching shirts.
"That's really part of elegance. I think, why not? You can easily mix masculine and feminine elements in a collection," he explained after the show. "It's really possible for the modern man."
Van Noten further expanded his lexicon with high-tech fabrics blending polyester and wool, and trompe-l'oeil touches including photo-printed studs on a belt.
A black padded nylon bomber jacket was updated with a bright yellow ribbed trim, while gauzy mohair cardigans twisted around the body so that their buttons sat just above the hip. The Antwerp-based designer has taken his individual take on style one step further with a new Paris store, just steps away from the Fine Arts school on the artsy Left Bank where he showed the collection.
Located in a former bookstore overlooking the Seine river, the boutique is decorated with eclectic finds including a baroque bridge table that once belonged to famed 20th century dandy Carlos de Beistegui, who was famous for staging masked balls. "My idea was really for it to be like a house, like a personal apartment, and I put a lot of myself in it to create a very personal view on shopping for the future," Van Noten said.