Paris Fashion Week menswear kicks off with Milan's Off-WhiteJune 20, 2018 9:02pm

PARIS (AP) — The fashion circus of magazine editors, bloggers, photographers and buyers cried "Bonjour Paris" Wednesday as the first full day of menswear fashion shows kicked off in the French capital.

Edgy brand Off-White drew renewed attention at its show, thanks to the meteoric rise of its African-American designer Virgil Abloh — now chief of Louis Vuitton menswear.

While, Valentino brought in the celebrities.

Some highlights of the spring and summer menswear shows:

PROUD FAMILY AT OFF-WHITE

The parents of American-Ghanaian designer Virgil Abloh were the image of pride as they sat front row at Off-White — the Milan-based house their son founded in 2013 — in the sweltering Palace of Chaillol that overlooks the Eiffel Tower.

They had jetted to Paris for the first time from Rockford, Illinois to support their son, who on Thursday debuts his wares at the Louis Vuitton show. He's the first African-American to head up a major European design house.

"It's unbelievable. We're so proud of him. Very incredible," said his mother Eunice Abloh, who sat next to her husband Nee.

"We flew in. We're being treated very well. It's my first time in Paris — and it's beautiful," she added.

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OFF-WHITE'S BLUE DENIM

Denim, denim and then more denim.

That was the formula employed at the Milan-based house for spring-summer to produce a hip, urban, loose and highly masculine aesthetic.

Steel-blue denim opened the show. A denim shirt with frayed sleeve edges sported utilitarian metal zippers and was accessorized with a jangling key chain, while the hem down denim pants curved round, instead of vertically down, in a deceptively simple hip-hop style.

Oversize white T-shirts with logos, retro sneakers and an oversize color-blocked, tie-dye style coat added an on-trend whiff of the '80s in the collection that never forgot to have fun.

White confetti fell from snow machines at one point to a slurred remix of Bing Crosby's "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas," prompting chuckles from front row attendees who saw irony at the snowfall during a spring-summer collection, in the sweltering Paris heat, in which many of the models were topless.

The collection stood out for using models from different ethnic backgrounds — sadly, a rarity for many Paris shows.

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TAKASHI MURAKAMI

The edgy styles of Off-White that have garnered Abloh a cult-like following attract diverse guests.

Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami — who's famed for blurring the lines between high- and low-art and whom Christie's ranks as the sixth highest-selling living artist — said he attended the show to support his friend.

"Virgil and I we've got a really good friendship. That's why I'm here. But I'm very much excited about Vuitton," he said from beneath an oversize silver toggle hat.

Murakami said that Abloh's appointment will be positive for the industry as his aesthetic is inclusive, and added it's a good direction for fashion to have an African-American at the helm of the major brand.

"It's much more democratic so young people can get involved more and more," he said.

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THE RISE OF VLTN AT VALENTINO

NBA star James Harden joined rappers A$AP Ferg and Nas in giving Valentino's front row a serious dose of street cred.

Designer Pierpaolo Piccioli long has said he wants to make Valentino appealing to young men, — and the collection presented Wednesday was the best attempt to date despite the venue — the ornate Museum of Decorative Arts, located inside the former Louvre Palace.

Feathered Brit-pop hats, sneakers, billowing oversize trench coats and baggy patterned tracksuit bottoms gave the spring-summer aesthetic a relaxed-feeling. It was a style the fashion house summed up as "street encounters couture."

The 62-look collection, which had gentle fuchsias, mint greens, pinks, whites and blacks in the palette, took the Italian designer's previous dalliance with logos to the next level.

"VLTN" was the real star of the show. In the collection, it featured on the vast majority of looks — running down pants, on hats, across raincoats and even on socks.

The lettering also was emblazoned on the clothes of Valentino staff members and clutches worn by guests.

It's perhaps a commercial gamble to put all the fashion eggs in the logo basket.

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FACETASM'S BRIDAL WORKMAN

Designer Hiromichi Ochiai didn't disappoint those expecting the wackily-creative from Japanese house Facetasm.

The fashion-forward designer's touchstone of workman's clothes was given an unusual bridal twist in Wednesday's collection that mixed mens' and women's styles, as well as punk, preppy and eclectic aesthetics.

One of the first looks showcased on a female model was a hybrid between a workman's overall — with big utilitarian pocket — and a white tulle bridal gown.

The model's hair channeled Madonna's "Like a Virgin" styles, worn with voluminous '80s earrings, and evoked a punk going down the church aisle.

Elsewhere, a blue navy shirt had the oversize silhouette of a worker's top, yet was gently perforated like lace.

It was a clever touch that demonstrates why Ochiai commands a strong following. The Tokyo-founded company has won plaudits for its conceptual styles with hints of punk.

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ROCHAS

Parisian house Rochas has appointed designer Federico Curradi to head up its nascent menswear line.

In a statement, the label said the Italy-born Curradi's "sharp vision of the menswear vestiaire" will bring its menswear a "new attitude."

Rochas CEO Philippe Benacin said the designer will reinterpret "streetwear codes in an elegant and charming way."

Curradi previously worked at Ermanno Scervino, Roberto Cavalli and Iceberg.

Rochas, founded in 1925 by Marcel Rochas, is considered an iconic womenswear house. It only began a menswear line last year — to a lukewarm response from critics.

Curradi's first collection will be presented in January 2019 in the Paris menswear calendar.

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Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamson_K

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