Sophie Albou-Mechaly used Le Comptoir Général, an incomparable Paris gathering spot best known for its collection of African bric-a-brac, as the backdrop for her Paul & Joe
men's collection. Situating her muse in this throwback setting allowed her to conjure up a story about a young fifties-era jazz dude who picks up style cues at each point along his international tour—namely, Cuba, Hawaii, and South Africa. This gave her an excuse to play with an eclectic mix of motifs—a large intarsia pineapple, micro-printed cherries, illustrated monkeys, painterly palm trees—even if the narrative seemed forced (or maybe just far-fetched). In any case, Albou-Mechaly was able to express attitude in the flattering seersucker jackets paired with slim Bermuda shorts and rolled-cuff colored jeans punched up further by a printed windbreaker or cartoony-covered blouson. While it's hard to fault a collection oozing so much joie de vivre, the clichés struck a pitch that may be lost on some men. It is telling that one doodle print featured such thought bubbles as, "I need my croissant every day" and "Parisian cat"—in English. Presumably, Albou-Mechaly is feeding her rapidly growing foreign market at the expense of the veritable cool cats who'd never advertise as much. Thankfully, a denim-style varsity jacket addressed the need for pared-back key pieces, and the half-half T-shirts—percale cotton on one side, airy cotton voile on the other—offered novelty in a lower register. They might catch on.