WORDS Philip Livchitz
With Paris Men's Fashion Week well under way in this sweltering heat, Ann Demeulmeester’s creative director, Sébastien Meunier, created one of the most beautiful and bohemian collections this Summer. Meunier made a specific reference to Robert Mapplethorpe through his personal Instagram account, whilst citing the world-famous photographer as the main inspiration for the SS18 collection.
Mapplethorpe, both as a style icon and through his photography, had a robust presence and effect on the collection. It opened with model Abdulaye Niang wearing a black wide-lapelled double-breasted jacket with flower embroidery and rolled up cuffs with a pair of black flared trousers. Underneath, he wore two layers of white shirts which created a beautiful juxtaposing silhouette topped with an enormous white floral necklace and Demeulmeester’s signature white feather.
The opening look set a very indulgent mood for the rest of the collection with glamorous flower necklaces and floral pins complementing colour schemes carefully selected and styled by Dazed creative director Robbie Spencer. One of the most gorgeous features that drew instant comparison to Mapplethorpe’s own style was the introduction of knee-high four-strap leather boots, which were paired with black leather coats and black white-rimmed trench as well as black shorts. The influence of Mapplethorpe's photography was illstrutated through the ever-present contrast of black and white, as seen in his series of world-famous photographs of Ken Moody and Robert Sherman from 1984. However, Meunier also added elements of passion and a touch of bohemian 70’s into the collection through pieces such as delicate rose coloured shirts with detailed flower embroidery and garnet velvet wide trousers. The models, at times, looked as if they were part of Mapplethorpe’s ‘Flora: The Complete Flowers’ series.
Each look in the collection conveyed the message of sensual and repose male beauty influenced by one of the most important photographers of 70’s and 80’s America. Mapplethorpe was always obsessed with the fame and legacy he would leave behind. Sébastien Meunier’s homage, therefore, illustrates, perhaps, that such worries were unfounded, as his legacy lives on, and will live on for decades to come.