Tuesday 6th July

| BY Paul Toner

10 Picks of Paris: Charles de Vilmorin is our Next Designer to Meet

After the global Covid-19 outbreak forced all menswear shows to be cancelled early last summer, a rescheduled and fully digitalised Paris Fashion Week Men’s, July 2020, was to be the guinea pig of what is now considered the new normal in our industry. Five days of solely URL fashions – where the kitchen table became the new front row and ticket-less shows democratised the catwalk – showcased the city’s menswear talent to an entirely new audience. Digital fashion week meant these designers were now operating on a global stage. The possibilities were limitless.

We’ve picked the Paris menswear designers who have taken virtual fashion in their stride, who have defied convention and used this state of flux to tear out pages from the rulebook and completely rewrite it. Each has made navigating this strange, on-screen fashion world we now reside in all that more exciting. Long live these digital shapeshifters.

While some may regard Haute Couture as a dying art form, the Parisian designer Charles de Vilmorin, newly installed as creative director at Rochas, proves otherwise. A recent graduate of the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, de Vilmorin showed his first dream-like collection last May, directly on Instagram, and is selling each look on a made-to-order basis.

The fashion press have compared his graphic, psychedelic, genderless creations to those by great visionaries such as Christian Lacroix and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, the latter having sung de Vilmorin’s praises across social media.

He made his official fashion week debut this January, on the couture schedule no less, where the majority of the fabrics he used were hand-painted in his art nouveau-style illustrations. “The message of this collection and the video is freedom in all its forms,” he affirms. “I wanted to celebrate this freedom by highlighting different bodies, different ways of being oneself, in a desire for tolerance and hope.”

What’s the best thing about showing in Paris?

“It’s a real honour that I am really grateful for. The advantage is to be directly at the heart of the system. I can meet people who have always inspired me. A lot of great things are happening in Paris and it’s a luxury to be able to access them and to be able to work directly with talented and motivated people.”

What’s your take on digital fashion weeks?

“Digital fashion week is coming to me at the right time. I obviously love the adrenaline and the energy of real catwalks very much, but the health crisis is forcing designers and brands to experiment with something else and to think outside the box. It’s very interesting to see how some have interpreted it, if they have known how to make it a force or not. Fashion is that, too – playing and talking about the times, knowing how to adapt.”

What does home mean to you?

“It represents safety for me. Temporarily not having an apartment in Paris, I realised how important it is to have your own space. But I am not someone who easily attaches to places – I like moving, discovering and taking ownership of new spaces.”

What does your home country do better than anywhere else?

“It might sound clichéd but France excels in terms of savoir-faire and being charming. I haven’t travelled a lot, but even if all countries are their own resources, France really knows how to use its knowledge to do in- credible things in terms of craft.”

Portrait by Mélanie Doh. Taken from Issue 53 of 10 Men – NO PLACE, LIKE, HOME – order your copy here.