Is Lutz Huelle Paris’s most underrated designer? Seeing him back on the runway after a four-year gap, the thought came to mind. The deconstructed vintage jeans Huelle rehabs into hybridized trousers were trending all over town this week. Designers must know a good idea when they see one. He makes the “real clothes” that everyone is talking about this season with not much in the way of resources but quite a lot in the way of creative aplomb, and he’s been doing so for years.

For a refresher, Huelle hails from the Martin Margiela school of fashion. Having worked with the Belgian designer for three years, he picked up not just a taste for old clothes to manipulate into something new, but also a flair for turning the familiar into the less so. As of last season, he hadn’t been planning on returning to the show schedule, but AZ Factory, the Richemont brand founded by the late Alber Elbaz where he’s now designing pre-season collections, offered its support, and he couldn’t say no.

The show at the Cathédrale Américaine on the Avenue Georges V was intimate by Paris standards. Huelle’s lifelong friend Wolfgang Tillmans was in the crowd, along with some of his regulars. The return to the runway didn’t mean a shakeup of Huelle’s formula; used Levi’s were still the foundation. This time, he spliced the collars and cuffs with cotton drill for a trench and quilted nylon for a lightweight winter coat, and on pants he mashed up denim with pinstripes and a Prince of Wales plaid. Tweaking the classic bib-front tuxedo shirt, pintucked pleats were turned on their axis so they ran horizontally across the chest, or else he replaced vertical pleats with inset sequins.

You can depend on Huelle for a statement coat or jacket. His patchwork MA-1s were back in various combinations of pinstripes, nylon quilting, and wool felt, and he inset vintage blazers with bands of sequins around the waist. Raincoats, meanwhile, were reconstructed with pleated panels that gave them the swishy feeling of a dress. Smart money says invest in one now before the rest of Paris fashion catches onto this idea too.


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