Friday, June 27, 2008


A model wears a creation by designer Paul Elbers for French fashion house Louis Vuitton during its Men's Fashion Spring-Summer 2009 collection, in Paris,

Paris menswear challenges style codes
The Paris menswear collections kicked off Thursday with a focus on individual style, reflecting a downturn in the global economy which has taken the shine off status dressing.

The new mood sweeping men's fashion this season has produced some unlikely style icons.

Megabrand Louis Vuitton drew inspiration from the little tramp himself, Charlie Chaplin, for a spring-summer collection of cropped linen jackets and extrafine collarless shirts in sober shades of white, gray and black.

Fans of the sophisticated French label can rest easy though. The Chaplin influences were subtle, translating into high buttons on jackets that peeled away to reveal the waistband and a slightly curved leg on narrow pants.

Hip hop star Pharrell Williams is down with the new sobriety, having ditched his gold and diamond chains for a simple T-shirt and jeans.

"I think the clothes have to describe who you are," he told The Associated Press.

"I like to be comfortable. It's hot though, isn't it?" he added, peeling off his cardigan as temperatures soared in the glass-roofed mezzanine of the Musee de Tokyo where the show was held.

Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto celebrated offbeat beauty with models that included a group of gray-haired seniors, lending a dignified elegance to crumpled linen suits embellished with panels of see-through black lace or oversized applique scissors and hands.

British artist and director Steve McQueen, who recently won the Golden Camera award at the Cannes Film Festival, also made his catwalk debut at the show.

"The situation is, I'm not a skinny white boy, I'm the complete opposite," McQueen, who is portly and black, told The AP. "I heard the audience gasp a bit when I came in."

Jean Paul Gaultier has made a habit of using unconventional models, but this season he chose chisel-jawed Adonises for his cowboy-themed display.

Sporting extensions of long hair under straw hats, they paraded in outfits that clashed the French designer's trademark sailor stripes with lumberjack plaids. Trousers in dusty rodeo shades of sand and brick featured full-length front zips inspired by chaps.

Meanwhile, Italian designer Stefano Pilati gave free rein to his flamboyant streak for Yves Saint Laurent, showing glittering evening jackets encrusted with silver sequins in a presentation late Wednesday.

Outfits on show at the museum-like display included crinkled washed silk blazers worn over gauzy layers of fine knits, some featuring moth-holes patched with gold mesh.

The collection was dedicated to the memory of Saint Laurent, who died this month at the age of 71 after revolutionizing 20th century fashion by putting women in pants.

Pilati said men, likewise, could afford to loosen up a little without losing face.


Danica defends style some view as aggressive
Danica Patrick is the best known driver in the IndyCar Series, and she erased any doubt that she belongs in April when she became the first woman in history to win a major open-wheel race.
Her popularity with the fans, however, hasn't been shared by her fellow drivers of late. After last week's race in Iowa, Scott Dixon called her "a menace," and Ed Carpenter referred to her "normal supreme block job" in suggesting that Patrick's blocking style hampered his finish.

"I don't really know where those comments came from," Patrick said during a meeting with reporters Thursday at Richmond International Raceway, the site of Saturday night's SunTrust 300 IndyCar race.

Patrick's style was further brought under scrutiny Wednesday when Brian Barnhart, the IndyCar Series' president of competition and operations, said she needs to continue treating her fellow competitors with respect or risk losing their respect because of her driving style.

Asked to respond to competitors' objections to her aggressive style and unwillingness to give up track position, she said she's doing her job.

"All I can say is with the words you used — aggressive and giving up spots — those are things that drivers never do," she said.

"You should never give up spots and you ideally don't want to be someone that's just passive out there. As a driver, I'm always trying to be aggressive and I think, if anything, last weekend I maybe wasn't aggressive enough on the restarts. That's where I lost my spots."

Respect, she added, is something she's worked hard to earn.

"One thing I've worked really hard on ever since I entered the series was earning that respect, and walking that fine line between being too passive and getting pushed around and being too aggressive," she said.

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