YSL sits out Paris men's shows as Ackermann steps up

PARIS men's fashion week starts Wednesday without two of its perennial star brands but with Colombian designer Haider Ackermann joining the big league with two hotly anticipated shows.

Ackermann will put his own bohemian line on the catwalk Wednesday night and follow it up two days later with his debut show for the Italian luxury brand Berluti.

The 45-year-old Paris-based creator is the latest in a long line of stellar designers to have passed through the doors of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, following the likes of Dries Van Noten and Martin Margiela.

Berluti, which is best known for its $1,000-plus shoes, launched its own menswear line in 2011, five years after being bought by the French luxury goods and fashion group LVMH.

But while all eyes will be on Ackermann, Paris mainstays Yves Saint Laurent and Carven will be notable by their absence.

While Carven have suspended their men's line, the reasons for Yves Saint Laurent's absence are more mysterious.

Its new Belgian-born designer Anthony Vaccarello made a typically sexy splash with his first women's collection in September, having taken over from Hedi Slimane, who held last year's menswear show in his adopted home of Los Angeles.

But Yves Saint Laurent were not forthcoming on why there would be no autumn-winter Paris show this year. "We have no reason to give you," a spokeswoman told AFP.

With decades-old fashion show conventions in flux over the last few years, the trend for mixed shows with men and women sashaying down the runway together seems to be getting stronger.

Having emerged last year in Paris and become more marked in the men's shows in London and Milan earlier this month, Paul Smith, Julien David and Kenzo will present collections in Paris for both genders at the same time.

Within the fashion world this mixing of men's and women's shows has been dubbed "co-ed" – a play on the "coeducational" term used for mixed schools.

For the most part, however, this does not mean that the clothes being presented are unisex, although the queen of British punk style Vivienne Westwood has urged couples to share their wardrobes.

The 75-year-old icon said sharing clothes was as much about saving the planet and money as daring men to wear dresses.

"You've seen women for 100 years in trousers but it's all switched around equally now," Westwood told AFP after her London show. — AFP