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Big is best as Paris Fashion Week Men's goes XL



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Big flappy greatcoats, baggy trousers and voodoo charms... that is what fashionable men will be wearing next autumn and winter if the Paris catwalks are anything to go by.

As men's fashion week wound up Sunday in the French capital, some clear trends were emerging for the months ahead, not least that black is back with a vengeance.

From Dior to Givenchy and Yamamoto and Rynshu, it was everywhere in velvet, leather and wool, often combined with red check, the style touch of the season. But the trend that dwarves all others is for big and baggy. Small families could settle down for the night inside many of the overcoats that have come flapping down the runways this week.

Raf Simons went hyper-supersized with enormous puffa jackets, Off-White's coats were so long they were almost adult sleep suits and Rick Owens went and created an actual sleeping bag coat, all riffing on the idea that the modern male needed comforting and somewhere to hide.

Watch out too for overlong sleeves that reach almost to the fingernails and rich, silky purples that appeared most memorably in Dries Van Noten's gorgeous macks and peacock and serpent pattern coats. Pink -- which in the 19th century was seen as the most masculine of colours before it was lost to bubblegum girliness -- has made a tentative comeback too. It adorned the collars of Givenchy's coolest jackets, Julien David used it for his most cuddly coats, and it was everywhere in Pigalle's panorama of pastels.

Hermes tried to take a little of the taboo away by making theirs almost raspberry, while Officine Generale hid their pinks behind blacks and greys. Another longtime style no-no, the lumberjack jacket, may also be about to be brought in from the cold, meekly making an entrance in Valentino and getting a glamorous makeover by Dior.

Dashing breeches

But for sheer aplomb, it was hard to beat the dramatic return of braid and breeches. Balmain's tyro Olivier Rousteing galloped back in time to round up some of the most swashbuckling looks of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Don't be surprised if you soon see pop stars -- of whom the young designer has an adoring fan club -- dressing up like hussars that could have stepped from the pages of "War and Peace" or "The Red and the Black", the colours that dominated his collection.

Agnes B went for less of a testosteroned look, dressing three of her models like 18th-century bourgeois gentlemen in blue and purple velvet, complete with tricorn hats. But extra large and extra baggy dominated. Even the oldest of the Paris houses still showing, Lanvin, wrapped itself in flappy greatcoats Sunday in the first collection under the sole control of Lucas Ossendrijver after the shock departure of artistic director Alber Elbaz in October.

Rather than make a flashy splash, Ossendrijver -- who had been at the label for a decade -- went for detail under the watchful eye of the brand's Taiwanese owner Shaw-Law Wang. Elbaz sportingly posted a supportive Instagram message saying, "Good luck with your show today Lucas."

'Soft and sensual'

And Ossendrijver did succeed in making the show in a huge hangar on the outskirts of Paris strangely intimate, bringing buyers and press right up close to his creations on the narrow catwalk. "I wanted people almost to touch the clothes and then be touched by them," he told AFP.

"There is a softness and a sensuality about the collection," he said of his loose cut suits and highly-worked coats and shirts that flirted with grunge. British designer Paul Smith was having none of the new giganticism, however, sticking by his tried and trusted tailored line.

His Sunday show revisited some his classic designs with strong echoes of the 1960s with Crombie coats, single vertical Mod-inspired stripes and Saturday night suits with subtle flower details. His show began to the chimes of Big Ben and the reggae track "My England Story" before embarking on a musical history of Britain over the last 50 years that ended with the late David Bowie's "Oh You Pretty Things".

The clothes, however, drew their inspirations largely from the 1960s and 1970s, with combinations of rich clarets, greens, purples and mothball blues. "I love the playfulness of this collection," he told AFP. "We are on a bit of a high at the moment."

Paris's haute couture week started late Sunday with Versace although the shows only begin in earnest Monday with Christian Dior and Schiaparelli. Haute couture exists only in Paris and is sustained by a small number of the world's richest women. (Fiachra Gibbons, AFP)

Photos: AFP

David Bowie
Lucas Ossendrijver
Paris Fashion Week
Paul Smith