Newspaper article International New York Times

At Valentino, Gender Isn't the Issue

Newspaper article International New York Times

At Valentino, Gender Isn't the Issue

Article excerpt

Discussion of Milan's gender blurring continued as the men's shows moved to Paris, but the clothes being shown here are for men.

The fashion brigade has arrived in Paris. Milan, the third leg of the European men's wear tour came to a close on Tuesday, with one last major celebrity sighting to prick up your Instagram. Yes, that was Robert De Niro sitting front row at Giorgio Armani. Why? Who knows. Perhaps the operative question should be, Why not?

But it wasn't the man who played Travis Bickle who left the lingering impression as the flights left Linate Airport and touched down at Charles de Gaulle. It was the fact that men's fashion week in Milan had looked in many ways like women's fashion week in Milan.

The runways were crammed with female models at show after show, sometimes in equal proportion to the men. And at the shows that excited the most interest, it was hard to tell the men from the women. At Gucci, the most hotly debated show of the week, Alessandro Michele once again opted for androgyny. He proposed lace and crochet for men, floral and butterfly appliques, and glitter sneakers that laced up the ankle like gladiator sandals.

It wasn't a stretch to wonder whether the trend would continue in Paris. There, on Wednesday morning, Pierre Hardy was showing his new men's shoes at Les Bains, the recently refurbished hotel and former site of the legendary nightclub Les Bains Douches. There had certainly been frolics of gender there, as Mr. Hardy himself could attest from visits in its heyday. If these walls could talk, an observer suggested. Mr. Hardy widened his eyes behind wire-framed glasses. "Exactly," he said.

But Mr. Hardy was there to show off new, barely detailed loafers and runner-style sneakers, and though camouflage (here pasted over Mr. Hardy's signature block print) was everywhere, glitter was nowhere to be found.

"I didn't see it coming," he said of gender's rapidly blurring lines. "When you're 18, it's O.K. When you're 30. ..." He furrowed his brow. "And when you're 40. ..."

At Carven, on the Left Bank, Barnabe Hardy, the label's new men's designer, was presenting his first collection. …

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