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Blow up boots, ballet pumps and big suits: What we saw at the men’s shows in Paris

The Fall-Winter 2024 menswear shows in Paris saw the return of Balmain Homme after a four-year absence, Givenchy’s first collection since Matthew Williams’ departure and the runway debut of fashion company 032c.

Footwear was in focus, with designers offering ways for the willing to leave sneakers behind (some more practical than others), a celebration of the new face of Americana and a sartorial dismantling of toxic masculinity.

Je T’imbs

Paris fell hard for Timberland’s iconic six-inch yellow boots last week, in what is the heritage American brand’s 50th anniversary year.

The boot — synonymous firstly with construction workers, then hip hop stars including Aaliyah, Tupac and Notorious B.I.G — got a high fashion upgrade with the popular six-inch style spotted on the runway at both Louis Vuitton and Wales Bonner, and around the city courtesy of a new ad campaign aptly named “Je T’imbs” — a riff on the French phrase “Je t’aime” (I love you).

Vuitton will produce a limited-edition version of Timberland's six-inch boot in their signature monogram with 18-karat gold eyelets. Each pair comes  with it's own shoe trunk. - Francois Durand/Getty Images
Vuitton will produce a limited-edition version of Timberland's six-inch boot in their signature monogram with 18-karat gold eyelets. Each pair comes with it's own shoe trunk. - Francois Durand/Getty Images

Vuitton creative director Pharrell Williams has long been a fan of “Timbs” (having previously been seen in them on the red carpet) and for Fall–Winter 2024, showed different iterations of the boot including one featuring the Maison’s logo embossed on the tongue. According to the house, the Vuitton iteration is 15 percent larger than classic Timberland boots and will be manufactured by the Vuitton factories in Italy. Still want more? Look out for a limited-edition version in Vuitton’s signature monogram complete with 18-karat gold eyelets. Each will be sold, naturally, with it’s own shoe trunk.

Over at Wales Bonner, the yellow boots had also had a bling upgrade, courtesy of some silver stud detailing. “I cannot think of a more exciting way to kick off the new year and keep the momentum behind our yellow boot going,” said Maisie Willoughby, chief marketing officer of Timberland, of the brand’s high fashion moment.

Americana redux

Wales Bonner’s re-interpretation of mid-century Ivy League sartorial tropes included varsity jackets, striped crew necks and sweatshirts with “Howard” emblazoned across the chest, a nod to the historically Black Howard University in Washington, where the designer has spent time.

Wales Bonner's collection featured varsity jackets and crew sweaters inspired by American colleges. - Ik Aldama/picture alliance/Sipa USA
Wales Bonner's collection featured varsity jackets and crew sweaters inspired by American colleges. - Ik Aldama/picture alliance/Sipa USA

Rhuigi Villaseñor of Rhude also threw his spin on American prep with letterman jackets and tweed blazers worn over university sweatshirts. Oversized cargo vests, sweeping coats and quilted trousers gave the collection cool-kid cred for nights out.

At Amiri, Los Angeles-based designer Mike Amiri fused silhouettes from 1950s suiting with nonchalant 90s-inspired formalwear, with grungily romantic results. Tuxedo jackets had a slouchy swagger, dressed down with the addition of wide-collared shirts unbuttoned to the naval and worn over white tanks. Grandpa cardigans were also present but upgraded by the addition of leather trim, and layered over patterned shirts and tasseled scarves.

The 1950s met the 1990s in Amiri's "grungily romantic" presentation. - Saviko/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
The 1950s met the 1990s in Amiri's "grungily romantic" presentation. - Saviko/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

The stereotypical American Western wardrobe — cowboy boots and hat, string and bolo ties galore, workwear staples and denim — was reimagined through a Louis Vuitton lens by Pharrell Williams. Hand-beaded pearl and sequin motifs were embroidered on denim and chaps, alongside tailored dungarees, bolero jackets and plenty of turquoise detailing — as buttons or embellished on accessories.

“I felt like when you see cowboys portrayed, you see only a few versions,” Williams told journalists backstage at the show, referencing Hollywood’s whitewashing of cowboys in early Western movies and revealed he worked with artists from the Dakota and Lakota nations on the collection and the show’s staging. “You never really get to see what some of the original cowboys really looked like,” he continued. “They look like us, they look like me. They look Black, they look Native American.”

Shoes as armor

In many collections this season, sneakers were swapped for more formal footwear options. Models at Balmain Homme wore shiny black block-heeled boots encrusted with crystal detailing or monochrome square-toed wingtip boots with loose-cut trousers in bold colors.

Minimalist leather flats were the order of the season at Dries Van Noten. - Shutterstock
Minimalist leather flats were the order of the season at Dries Van Noten. - Shutterstock
Not so at Rick Owens, who showed inflatable knee-high boots. - Valerio Mezzanotti/Owenscorp
Not so at Rick Owens, who showed inflatable knee-high boots. - Valerio Mezzanotti/Owenscorp

Footwear at Dries Van Noten was more subdued. The Belgian designer paired looks with minimalist leather flats, while Kim Jones for Dior Homme took it one step further and sent models out wearing ballet-inspired flats with contrasting knee-high socks.

Not forgetting the supersized inflatable boots at Rick Owens — a collaboration with 21-year-old London-based designer Straytukay. The theatrical boots bloomed from the knees, as if to protect against the chaos of the world.

“Collection proportions are grotesque and inhuman in a howling reaction to some of the most disappointing human behaviour we will witness in our lifetime,” said Owens in the show notes. “There is the eternal utopian hope of someplace better.”

Balletcore at Dior

“Balletcore” has found its way to menswear, though without the literalness of its womenswear counterpart. Kim Jones debuted Dior Homme’s first couture collection inspired by the legendary Russian ballet star Rudolf Nureyev who, coincidentally, was photographed by Jones’ uncle Colin Jones. The elder Jones had documented Nureyev’s off-duty and rehearsal clothes — images and inspirations which made their way into the label’s pret-a-porter collection.

Ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev provided inspiration from the ground up for Kim Jones' Dior Homme collection. - Ik Aldama/picture alliance/Sipa USA
Ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev provided inspiration from the ground up for Kim Jones' Dior Homme collection. - Ik Aldama/picture alliance/Sipa USA

Beanie hats were seen pulled down low alongside body-hugging ribbed knits, oversized wrap coats with wide belts and tailored suits. Dior’s last 20 couture looks drew from a Christie’s 1995 auction catalogue of Nureyev’s personal belongings, with Jones reinterpreting the dancer’s extravagant wardrobe into dramatic kimonos with hand-embroidered motifs, finely embellished tunics and capes and sequined tank tops, which will only be available to VIP clients.

Guys with grace

Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli wanted “to give men a new grace and gentleness,” he told Vogue and as such, the traditional suit was softened with looser silhouettes and rounded shoulders. A palette of predominantly black, grey and cream was punctuated with sky blue — seen on bags, quilted tops and wool duffle coats.

At Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli punctuated a palette of predominantly black, grey and cream with sky blue — seen on bags, quilted tops and wool duffle coats. - Pixelformula/Sipa/Shutterstock
At Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli punctuated a palette of predominantly black, grey and cream with sky blue — seen on bags, quilted tops and wool duffle coats. - Pixelformula/Sipa/Shutterstock

Givenchy — who parted ways with house creative director Matthew M. Williams at the start of 2024 — is also redefining its man, starting by drawing from founder Hubert de Givenchy’s wardrobe.

A couture smock was reimagined into a boxy jacket with soft shoulders, there were chandelier motifs on silk shirts and trousers paired with simple knit turtlenecks, waists were accentuated with the return of the logo belt and outerwear cocooned the body. This iteration of the Givenchy guy is less interested in celebrities and logos (there were none) and is secure in his elevated coolness.

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