Even in an evermore metaverse-obsessed world, physical fashion weeks remain bellwethers of our wardrobe trends. Over the past two years, these summits have seesawed, largely due to Covid-19 and its variants, back and forth between digital, in-person, and “phygital” presentations. Despite the upheaval, the fact remains that there’s no more powerful a showcase of what’s to come stylistically than these events – and they’re not always just about the clothes: Fashion weeks start conversations about identity and self-presentation, and how those evolving attitudes fit into, or reflect, popular culture. Paris Fashion Week’s most recent iteration, which unveiled a bounty of menswear for the Fall-Winter 2022 season, took a demolition swing at old menswear conventions in the ongoing establishment of a new normal. With ideas that were often gender dismantled or blended, infused with surrealism and other uninhibited motifs, designers pushed forth an agenda that felt broader – and braver – than usual. Read on for highlights from seven stand-out shows. Front row buzz at Kenzo The designer and musician Nigo, who founded the globally revered streetwear label A Bathing Ape in 1993, presented his very first collection for the label Kenzo in front of a buzzy crowd including a denim-clad Kanye West (or Ye as he prefers) who was there with Julia Fox (Fox wore a denim look by Schiaparelli). Pharrell Williams was also spotted, wearing eye-catching Tiffany & Co. diamond-rimmed shades. Nigo’s appointment was something of a circular occasion. The brand was founded by the late Kenzo Takada in 1970, which was the year Nigo was born. They’re both from Japan, and they both studied at Tokyo’s prestigious Bunka Fashion College. Takada’s first runway show was held at the City of Light’s Galerie Vivienne, which is where Nigo chose to hold his own. While stylistic references to the year 1970 were seen in the form of embroideries and patches on berets and varsity jackets, there was a fashion-forwardness about the collection, with a myriad of separates and a confident use of plaid, pattern and color. Tailored and workwear pieces alike cut a genderless silhouette. Big ideas at Loewe Loewe’s Jonathan Anderson is an expansive thinker, adept at channeling disparate notions into double take-worthy clothing designs. For Fall-Winter 2022, Anderson offered a topcoat trimmed in holiday lights, denim micro-shorts, a gloved sweater with long fabric tendrils trailing from the fingertips, and a jumper with a heart-shaped keyhole that exposed the left nipple. He also sent forth a knit muumuu featuring a meme-worthy cat with a parakeet on its head. The designer told media that the collection was partially inspired by what we see – day in and day out – on our phone screens. A final moment at Louis Vuitton The late Virgil Abloh’s final collection for Louis Vuitton was another standout moment. The lineup was fantastical and dream-like, and it played with the signatures and hints that Abloh had interwoven in his work throughout his three and a half years at the house before his untimely death last year. There were men in skirts, lace kits worn as wings, hats with spiked ears, a Wizard of Oz motif, colorful Keepall duffels, comic-book style illustrations, and much, much more (as was typical of Abloh, the ideas never really stopped). Stylist and editor Ib Kamara, who spearheaded the show, told CNN Style that the team “wanted to keep it where [they] thought Virgil was with [them], but push it to where Virgil would’ve taken it.” Avant-garde fun at Rick Owens Meanwhile, Rick Owens, who has long danced along fashion’s most avant-garde frontier, did not disappoint with his Fall-Winter 2022 collection. Helmets inspired by ancient Egyptian artifacts were affixed with lightbulbs and hoods became zipped face coverings, complete with tiny cutouts for visibility. A sleeveless tee brashly spelled out the word “urinal.” While speaking with CNN Style last season, Owens said: “The fact is, all of my life, I’ve tried to present something that is an alternative to a very strict aesthetic that we see in this world. We are expected to adhere to it, but I try to blur the lines. And not in a militant way, but in a way that’s saying, ‘I propose this as an alternative to the standards you are used to.’” Hints of Gaultier at Y/Project Glenn Martens’ Y/Project, who first trained as an architect, has become a go-to source for daywear with a conceptual edge. Interestingly this season, his new collection featured a number of legendary designer Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic trompe l’oeil body prints – in a prelude to what’s to come during the haute couture shows this week: It was announced last year that Marten’s will serve as a one-season-only guest creative director for the Jean Paul Gaultier label, as part of a new designer rotation strategy which saw Sacai’s Chitose Abe take the reigns last summer months after Gaultier retired. Bluemarble Bluemarble – from Anthony Alvarez – hosted its first runway show this season. Alvarez coined his label after a nickname for planet earth, which arose from a photograph taken by Apollo 17 in 1972. Mixing American sportswear, European savoir-faire and Filipino artisanal touches, his output resulted in funky, fun, and cozy-seeming clothes such as a pair of generously broken jean trousers, paneled in a torquing cut with strips of glitter-spangled fabric. Dior At Dior Men, artistic director Kim Jones worked under the ostensible specter of the late Christian Dior himself to mark the label’s 75th anniversary. In the past, Jones has generated significant hype by tapping third party collaborators, such as the artist Daniel Arsham and, last season, the rapper Travis Scott (this collection is on hold indefinitely, following the tragic events at Scott’s Astroworld performance in November, 2021). Jones’ introspection proved notable. Most significant was his version of Dior’s famous “Bar” jacket, which was introduced in 1947 – for women. It features a cut-and-construction that adds subtle hourglass curves to the garment’s architecture, and Dior’s idea was so groundbreaking at the time that it prompted a whole moniker for his creative oeuvre – the “New Look.” Jones’ men’s versions featured double-breasted finishes with top-stitched seams. Top image: Dior recreated the Alexandre III bridge for its menswear catwalk.