PARIS (AP) -- If you're planning an expedition to equatorial Africa or a yachting holiday in the south of France, Paris' spring-summer 2010 menswear catwalks had just the look for you Saturday.
Two Paris-based luxury labels, Kenzo and Hermes, drew inspiration from an explorer and the sun of Provence for sumptuous collections heavy on linen trousers and oversized chunky-knit sweaters.
Both were on-trend with straight-legged pants and chic shorts — Hermes' in apple green bridle prints, in a nod to the brand's saddlemaking origins.
In homage to a 19th century Italian-born explorer who charted the Congolese interior, Kenzo served up rubber soled-shoes suitable for perilous terrain and high-crowned Panama hats that were a kind of revamped pith helmet.
The French capital's menswear shows move into their second-to-last day on Sunday, with displays by the eminently romantic French label Lanvin, British dandy Paul Smith and Dior Homme.
"I've been thinking a lot about vacation, in fact I'm thinking about it now," Hermes' menswear designer, Veronique Nichanian, said with a smile in a post-show interview. "This season's man is relaxed, a cool man rather than a city man."
Nichanian drove that point home by replacing the catwalk's usual concrete or asphalt with a thick layer of rich red earth. Fashionistas in spike heels punctured deep holes into the catwalk — which, under the powerful spotlights, radiated heat worthy of the south of France. Throughout the display, in a 15th century former monastery on Paris' Left Bank, the crowd sweated and fanned themselves with the collection notes.
The models, in relaxed linen-blend trousers and sweater-vests in dark, masculine colors, looked as if they'd just stepped off a yacht in Antibes or checked into a five-star hotel in Arles.
Buttery leather wind-breakers and trenches were worn over cuffed, high-water linen pants in somber browns and blues. Lightweight shorts were paired with featherweight cardigans and vests or silk shirts and neckerchiefs, a masculine variation on the label's perennial best-selling scarves.
In a season dominated by gladiator sandals — omnipresent on Paris' catwalks — Hermes' espadrille moccasins were a welcome change.
The real test of the collection will be how many high-end vacationers are still able to splurge on holiday-chic apparel from a label where prices begin at high and quickly become as vertiginous as the fashionistas' sunken heels.
A legion of linen-clad explorers, their tailored pantsuits washed to a neutral palette of grays, greens and cream by a punishing tropical climate, charted new territory for Kenzo.
With its reined-in silhouettes and faded shades, the collection was an exercise in restraint for the Paris-based label, known for its mismatched prints in vibrant colors.
Designer Antonio Marras said the collection was in part inspired by explorer Pierre de Brazza, the namesake of the capital of the Republic of Congo, Brazzaville.
"It's like (a) meeting of this explorer and the characters from the Bertolucci film 'The Sheltering Sky,' who have a sort of dandified air about them," the exuberant Italian told The Associated Press in a backstage interview.
The prints were subtle — faded, leafy landscapes and botanical pen-and-ink drawings that looked as if they'd spent a rainy season outside.
Like other Paris designers, Marras layered shorts over knee-length leggings that looked like abbreviated thermal underwear. He paired the shorts with light linen blazers, oversized cable knit sweaters and fluttering rain slickers.
And because it wouldn't be a Kenzo show without a theatrical final touch, the dozens of sand-filled glass jugs hanging from the rafters on both sides of the catwalk tipped over one after another, creating little dunes as the models took their final spin.
A mist of dust rose from sand, enveloping the line of models in romantic haze as they trudged, single file, off the runway in search of new horizons.
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