The joy of suits: Berluti gives fashion lesson in luxury

Fiachra GIBBONS
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The former Dior designer has long been a prophet of a return to serious tailoring

Berluti went hell for leather for luxury Friday in a Paris men's fashion week already marked by strong steak of decadence.

Kris Van Assche, the Belgian creator who has rebooted the high-end French cobbler into a major fashion player, made a pitch to be the tailor of choice for the gods of global showbiz.

With hundreds of screaming fans waiting outside the Opera Garnier to catch a glimpse of Korean K-pop heartthrob Sehun and Taiwanese-Canadian actor Eddie Peng, Van Assche produced a collection that was as sensual to the touch as it was to the eye.

The former Dior designer has long been a prophet of a return to serious tailoring, and the rest of fashion seems to have caught up, with a battalion of other labels this week revisiting the classic men's suit.

But Van Assche's new Berluti is not just about raiding the archives. He is intent on reinventing old classics in what appears to a direct bid to outdo the ultra-luxurious French heritage house Hermes.

Rethought double-breasted suits came in rich reds and decadent purples and greens, with supermodel Bella Hadid rocking a mothball-blue one in the co-ed show whose front row was crammed with American rappers.

And Van Assche further played with people's minds by making a puffer coat in feather-light patent as well as Prince of Wales pattern overcoats and bomber jackets finely woven with leather.

- Clothes that turn heads -

"It is that little bit of originality that people come to Berluti for," the designer told AFP.

It was also about turning heads with killer detailing, he insisted.

"Sure we are a traditional shoe company, but that doesn't mean our clothes should not stand out in the street."

Nor has it stopped Van Assche from diving into the trainers market, or making suits which look like they have been made from same burnished brown and ox-blood leather as classic loafers.

"My job is to bring beauty to the world," he declared.

The show was another sign that Paris fashion was turning markedly away from streetwear, which has dominated the catwalks for several seasons, towards a new and often eye-catchingly eccentric classicism.

Dries Van Noten, the Belgian "Prince of Prints", talked about the emergence of a new "playful decadence" as he sent his models out with false fox furs and jewels draped around check jackets and coats matched with trousers in rich deep velvet.

Japanese designer Junya Watanabe tried to combine the two competing currents, splicing bomber jackets and sportswear into tweed jackets and coats in a valiant attempt to have the best of both worlds.