PARIS – Eclectic was the word to describe Day Three of Paris menswear week.
Friday's spring-summer collections had a little something for everyone: from the high-waisted gangster styles of film noir to fashions evoking Brazilian soccer and even the Catholic Church.
In one collection — which its designer called the longest fashion show in history — the boundaries were blurred between clothing and performance art.
"Here in Paris, the only thing that defines menswear is variety, difference. You cannot put it in one direction," French fashion federation president Didier Grumbach told The Associated Press.
Givenchy's enfant terrible designer, Riccardo Tisci, delivered the day's slickest show. In a provocative display, he delved into his Roman Catholic childhood in southern Italy to produce clothing loaded with Virgin Mary images.
Saturday's shows include Dior Homme and powerhouse Hermes.
It was an ecclesiastical tour de force in a religion-inspired collection. Incense wafted from the sidelines and organ music set the scene in a show that played with the layers of priestly garb.
Tisci shows always contain a shock factor. Here it came in the form of sleeveless tops and jackets printed with effigies of the Virgin Mary with a black bar over her eyes.
Jesus sandals — de rigueur for all the models — bore spiky chains.
"I'm going back to my roots," Tisci, an Italian Catholic, told The Associated Press. "It's about Communion, but a sex version of it."
Silhouettes were knee-length or at the hip. The longer looks in black, white and blood red descended like columns, with cassock undergarments hanging underneath. The shorter looks were best, such as a printed T-shirt paired with a jacket — again featuring Virgin imagery — that opened up like a Catholic triptych.
The sheer volume of clothes was unusual for a spring show, but Tisci rarely follows the rules.
"It's great to see so many clothes on the runway," former French Vogue Editor Carine Roitfeld said from the front row. "Each season he becomes stronger and stronger."
BAND OF OUTSIDERS
Was it a fashion show or performance art?
In their Paris debut, the fashion label Band of Outsiders is claiming to have pulled off the longest fashion show in history. The presentation — which featured a male model living in a shop widow — began Wednesday and wrapped up Friday evening, 60 hours later.
Live-streamed on the Internet for three days and four nights, it became somewhat of a phenomenon, receiving 25,000 unique hits, according to designer Scott Sternberg.
Sternberg decided that every 90 minutes, his model had to disappear briefly to change into a new outfit from the collection — making the event more like an installation than a fashion show.
"I am a clothing designer, but the line between art and fashion is blurred," said Sternberg. "For what I do, a runway isn't valid."
The exaggerated silhouette of the 1940s matinee idol was behind Juun J.'s bold and exhaustive menswear offering. The Korean designer, who impressed critics last season, took for inspiration the 1948 Japanese movie "Drunken Angel" by Akira Kurosawa.
"The (postwar) shapes are beautiful ... big shoulders, high waists," the designer said backstage.
If only Juun had kept it that simple.
The show started with the dark-pinstriped, broad-shouldered suits of film noir gangster movies. One beautiful black double breasted suit looked like a wrap-around kimono with its inflated and ruffled arms. East meets West was also nicely conveyed with tapered sultan pants.
But at times it felt like the designer was trying too hard. Silhouettes seemed to come in all shapes and sizes. And whatever he was trying to say was lost on one look, a white oversized coat with myriad flapping lapels and layers.
Brazilian designer Gustavo Lins used his menswear spring-summer 2013 show to kick off a collaboration with the Brazilian sportswear brand Penalty.
Sportswear and couture may seem like an unlikely mix, but in the current financial climate, independent designers have to think outside the box. With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil round the corner, this may prove a smart business move.
The low-budget show presented sporty-edged silhouettes with loose waists on models holding leather footballs. There were some interesting takes on trousers, such as gray cotton sultan pants, but overall the collection lacked cohesion.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP