Who can rationalize the laws of attraction? Sometimes Hedi Slimane gets it right; sometimes he leaves us scratching our heads. This season, the planets aligned. His band du jour, These New Puritans, provided a sound track that left one wanting more, their drummer George Barnett made for a much more appealing muse than Pete Doherty, and their home, the British town of Southend, provided a rich seam of inspiration for a collection that roamed confidently across the terrain of English youth cults. Southend was one of the spiritual homes of mod, and that immaculate legacy lingered in neat little Crombie coats and trenches, striped mohair sweaters, and a cropped leather peacoat.
But it was the Slimane slant that booted the show out of the past and into a possible future. It wasn't so much the new pant proportiona dhotilike dropped crotch that made his boys look like Gandhi dandiesas the stunning sequence of jackets. A satin-lapelled tweed blazer was the simplest. There was geometric metallic stitching on one jacket, lacquer splashed à la Jackson Pollock drippage on another. And, best of all, a candy-colored fiesta of bugle beads that, for the second time during this Paris season, suggested an almost Garland-esque specter hovering over the outer reaches of men's fashion.
The finale also emphasized the jacket in gray flannel or pinstripes, but the collection's signal item was possibly a long overshirt, which floated out from underneath shorter jackets and waistcoats. It created an illusion of tails, the formality of which is purest Hedi, but given here a lightness and fluidity that hinted at a new ease for the designer.