Paris Fashion Week Outsider Highlights

US rapper A$AP Rocky presented his debut collection. Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP
US rapper A$AP Rocky presented his debut collection. Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP
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Paris Fashion Week Outsider Highlights

US rapper A$AP Rocky presented his debut collection. Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP
US rapper A$AP Rocky presented his debut collection. Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

As well as the usual big-hitters at the menswear shows of Paris Fashion Week, there were some unexpected moments from emerging and avant-garde brands.
Here are a few highlights:
A$AP-style
A$AP Rocky, rapper and partner of Rihanna, launched a surprise with his first-ever clothing collection on Friday, said AFP.
The gangster vibes were strong, with models in balaclavas and luxury cars parked in the courtyard of a private hotel.
The rap elite were present, including Colombian icon Maluma, while Rihanna emerged in an evening dress and leather coat.
The clothes themselves combined baggy, XXL street wear plastered with the brand name American Sabotage AWGE.
The line may help with his legal fees -- he is currently facing prosecution for allegedly shooting his former friend Terell Ephron.
Rick Owens blockbuster
Rick Owens, the master showman of avant-garde art-fashion, excelled himself with his latest show, a homage to golden-era Hollywood historical epics at the Palais de Tokyo.
Instead of single-file, the models emerged in massed ranks, looking like a cross between fascist platoons, Ancient Roman processions and "Dune"-style otherworldly monks in their white gowns and hoods or pharaonic headdresses.
"It was a display of Rick's incredible talent and showmanship, creating a fashion moment that won't soon be forgotten," said Harrods buyer Simon Longland.
Beirenbonkers
Even by his own whacky standards, Walter Van Beirendonck pushed the limits of taste, with outfits that looked like pompom-laden devil clowns.
The Belgian veteran created oversized neon costumes, with smiley faces on hats and buttocks, little cardboard birthday hats, and twisted Joker-style smiles.
Not safe for work.
Friot's loud love
One new name creating buzz in France is young designer Jeanne Friot.
In a collection sponsored by Tinder, she stripped down gender codes with risque fishnet-dresses and fun innovations like a dress made entirely of belts, or another of tiny love-locks.
One model came out with the words "Love Louder" painted on his bare chest.
Backstage, the politically committed designer herself wore a T-shirt reading: "Why be racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic when you could just be quiet?"



80-year-old LL Bean Staple Finds New Audience as Trendy Bag

Gracie Wiener poses with some of her tote bags in Washington Square Park in New York, Wednesday, July 17, 2024, (AP Photo/Pamela Smith)
Gracie Wiener poses with some of her tote bags in Washington Square Park in New York, Wednesday, July 17, 2024, (AP Photo/Pamela Smith)
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80-year-old LL Bean Staple Finds New Audience as Trendy Bag

Gracie Wiener poses with some of her tote bags in Washington Square Park in New York, Wednesday, July 17, 2024, (AP Photo/Pamela Smith)
Gracie Wiener poses with some of her tote bags in Washington Square Park in New York, Wednesday, July 17, 2024, (AP Photo/Pamela Smith)

L.L. Bean created it 80 years ago to haul heavy blocks of ice. Now it's a must-have summer fashion accessory, The Associated Press reported.

The simple, sturdy canvas bag called the Boat and Tote is having an extended moment 80 years after its introduction, thanks to a social media trend in which they're monogrammed with ironic or flashy phrases.

New Yorker Gracie Wiener helped get it started by ordering her humble bags from L.L. Bean monogrammed with “Psycho” and then “Prada,” the pricey Italian luxury brand, instead of just her name or initials, and posting about them on Instagram. Then others began showcasing their own unique bags on TikTok.

Soon, it wasn’t enough to have a bag monogrammed with “Schlepper,” “HOT MESS,” “slayyyy” or “cool mom.” Customers began testing the limits of the human censors in L.L. Bean’s monogram department, which bans profanity “or other objectionable words or phrases,” with more provocative wording like “Bite me,” “Dum Blonde” and “Ambitchous.”

Social media fueled the surge, just as it did for Stanley’s tumblers and Trader Joe’s $2.99 canvas bags, which were once selling on eBay for $200, said Beth Goldstein, an analyst at Circana, which tracks consumer spending and trends.
The tote’s revival came at a time when price-conscious consumers were forgoing expensive handbags, sales of which have weakened, and L.L. Bean’s bag fit the bill as a functional item that’s trendy precisely because it’s not trendy, she said. L.L. Bean's regular bags top out at about $55, though some fancier versions cost upward of $100.
“There’s a trend toward the utilitarian, the simple things and more accessible price points,” she said, and the customization added to the appeal: “Status items don’t have to be designer price points.”

L.L. Bean’s tote was first advertised in a catalog as Bean’s Ice Carrier in 1944 during World War II, when ice chests were common. Then they disappeared before being reintroduced in 1965 as the Boat and Tote.

These days, they’re still made in Maine and are still capable of hauling 500 pounds of ice, but they are far more likely to carry laptops, headphones, groceries, books, beach gear, travel essentials and other common items.

Those snarky, pop-oriented phrases transformed them into a sassy essential and helped them spread beyond Maine, Massachusetts’ Cape Cod and other New England enclaves to places like Los Angeles and New York City, where fashionistas like Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Jessica Parker are toting them — but not necessarily brandished with ironic phrases.

“It’s just one of those things that makes people smile and makes people laugh, and it’s unexpected,” said Wiener, who got it all started with her @ironicboatandtote Instagram page, which she started as a fun side hustle from her job as social media manager for Air Mail, a digital publication launched by former Vanity Fair Editor-in-Chief Graydon Carter.

The folks at L.L. Bean were both stunned and pleased by the continuing growth. For the past two years, the Boat and Tote has been L.L. Bean’s No. 1 contributor to luring in new customers, and sales grew 64% from fiscal years 2021 to 2023, spokesperson Amanda Hannah said.

The surge in popularity is reminiscent of L.L. Bean’s traditional hunting shoe, the iconic staple for trudging through rain and muck, which enjoyed its own moment a few years back, driven by college students.