PARIS - Art, fashion and exotic travel merged in Thursday's energetic installment of Paris' spring-summer 2016 menswear shows. And fashion week's necessary dose of controversy was found in the form of an unauthorized political protest at Rick Owens.
Here are the highlights, including show reports from Louis Vuitton, Owens and Issey Miyake.
LOUIS VUITTON MERGES CULTURES
Louis Vuitton seems to have clocked up the most air miles this season, and not just because of its jet set front row — Kanye West, Joe Jonas, Marianne Faithfull and Zayn Malik.
Designer Kim Jones travelled around the world in his indigo-rich show, merging styles as diverse Thai tribal dress, South East Asian national costumes, American Ivy League prep and U.S. baseball.
"Now, the world traveller picks things up wherever he goes and makes them his own," Jones said.
The fashion house paid real attention to details. A satin sweatshirt featured Asiatic embroidered cranes, track pants and boxers came in embroidered silk, high-waisted '50s pants were made from blue-grey mohair and silk, and sun-dried Kobi leathers were cut to the shape of American flight jackets.
This merging of East-meets-West was a shimmering, silky success.
MODEL MAKES UNEXPLAINED, UNAUTHORIZED PROTEST
A male model known as Jera created an protest midway through Rick Owens' show, holding up a confusing handwritten banner on a white piece of canvass that read: "Please Kill Angela Merkel — Not."
Some fashion insiders gasped and others laughed loudly at the impromptu display — with many scratching their heads as to whether it had some link to the Greek debt negotiations.
Later, Owens labelled the model "crazy" and told media that he punched the model backstage for making the unauthorized political statement.
The condition of the model is not known.
The fashion house distanced itself from the protester in a statement: "the act of protest by a model at the Spring Summer 2016 show... was an independent statement and does not reflect the opinion of the house of Rick Owens."
MAKE CLOTHES, NOT WAR, SAYS RICK OWENS
Designer Rick Owens made a statement against war, and in the process, produced a stellar spring-summer show that subverted U.S. military collars with his signature dash of madness.
Taking studded jackets with plackets from the days of the Vietnam War, the U.S. designer created aggressive-looking slim fitting jerkins in distressed grey-and-black with white trim that were paired with black military boots and bare legs.
The collection, Owens said, was about "rebellion, counterculture and the anti-war protest."
The hippie, anti-war protester was referenced with huge messy wigs in green, orange and white that enveloped models' heads. Was he trying to suggest tunnel vision?
Whatever the meaning, it produced some great looks — like long, sheer sleeveless tops made from transparent, waxed leather. The collection finished in signature flamboyance in a series of "turbo-draped" toga tops, one with a huge gold flash.
DRIES VAN NOTEN'S HOMAGE TO POP ICONS
Van Noten became a fly on the wall of an imaginary chat between Salvador Dali and actress Marilyn Monroe for his collection — incorporating references from the Spanish artist, the blond bombshell, as well as icons associated with them.
Monroe's face appeared on printed silk shirts, with her famed red lips figuratively fluttering around bomber jackets, wide satin pyjamas and sheer silk shirts.
Dali's surrealist leitmotif, the beetle, meanwhile, was seen on broaches. And his famed lobster — a collaboration with couturier Elsa Schiaparelli — was reimagined in embroideries and prints. Schiaparelli's once-groundbreaking leopard print also graced loosely hanging Dandy coats — twinned with often belted high-waisted pants.
While the collection would be a delight for Monroe fans, since her face is so ubiquitous, the designs felt sometimes like we'd seen them all before.
ISSEY MIYAKE PITS URBAN AGAINST NATURE
In the tropical gardens of the Quai Branly museum in Paris, Issey Miyake ventured on a brightly colored exploration of the collision between nature and urban life.
Prints, inspired by Japanese photographer Yoshinori Mizutani, captured the wild parrots that can be seen on Tokyo's streets. They were vibrant features on slim Jacquard suits, or cut up into strips in loose knit sweaters.
Then the spring-summer designs evoked the colour-blocking of late Mexican architect Luis Barragan, famed for his vibrant square designs. It produced some of the show's best and boldest looks — bright yellow socks and a voluminous blue truncated apron.
The designer hit only one discordant note: his tight cotton neckties appeared contrived and didn't quite gel with the styles.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP