Boosted by an influx of cash from his ANDAM award, Alexandre Mattiussi of Ami staged his first-ever show tonight. In some ways, a runway show is the antithesis of Ami's ingenuous sensibility. The runway is an artificial stage, and Mattiussi has always insisted Ami is about reality. But Ami's ever-enlarging profile and legions of fans made continuing to do the standing-room-only presentations he has favored for seasons impossible. It's a problem many designers would be happy to have.
Still, if Mattiussi did runway, he did it his way. The stage at the Palais de Tokyo was set as a wintry Parisian street scene, covered in faux snow and street lamps. His models, drawn from more realistic ranks of manhood than those that walk in most other Paris fashion week shows, essentially ambled down the street. That's what Mattiussi has always claimed is his inspiration. "I don't read so many books, I don't watch so many movies," he said. "I watch the street."
This season in particular, Mattiussi took the collection back to basics. He'd lately been experimenting in wild prints (botanicals, birds) and brilliant color, but "I thought it was cool to get back to the classic wardrobe," he said. He put the spotlight instead on wool topcoats in single- and double-breasted versions, leather bombers, plaid shirts, and turtleneck sweaters. In the context, the more experimental pieces and looks read louder, like baggy, wide-leg pants in suiting wool.
But what Ami lacked in shock, it made up in charm. It made a forceful argument that real clothes deserve their airing, too, even during fashion week. Maybe especially then, when the onslaught of fantasy can be exhausting. And Mattiussi does have some magic to sprinkle on his wares. Take it from Caroline de Maigret, model, muse, and Chanelophile, who is no stranger to the biggest guns in fashion, but lent her services to Mattiussi all the same as the lone female model in the lineup. "I felt like I was myself," she said, "only a chicer version of myself. I was begging to be paid in clothes."