Kim Jones's collection for Louis Vuitton earned rave reviews. Photograph: Kristy Sparow/Getty Images
Menswear for 2012 unsurprisingly has a sporty theme. But the shows in the French capital were full of bright ideas for next spring. So what did we learn?
The new Brit designer at Louis Vuitton is very good
The debut menswear collection from Kim Jones, the new men's style and studio director at the French luxury house, whose overall boss is Marc Jacobs, was greeted with raves from everyone in Paris. The Central Saint Martins graduate, whose CV boasts Umbro, Topman and most recently Dunhill, presented a super-polished collection of modern, travel-inspired menswear with a sporty zing.
Jones says he was inspired by "the jet set – especially the American aristocracy and how they travelled in the 60s and 70s". He took elements of Ivy League styling and mixed it with luxury and technical sportswear. There was an African flavour too – Jones grew up there and his show notes name-checked Peter Beard, the artist famed for documenting East Africa and its wildlife. This translated into a brilliant check, inspired by the traditional Masai red and blue checks and the Vuitton house Damier check. It beautifully punctuated the collection, from a cotton safari shirt to a blanket-scarf over a Prince of Wales suit jacket.
Other new touches: a winning Varsity jacket and a tan bag both featured a bold logo of white, blue, black and red. And the accessories, especially the sandals, were brilliant.
The John Galliano courtroom look lives on
John Galliano: the courtroom look hits the catwalk. Photograph: Kristy Sparow/Getty Images
Galliano's court ensemble was the jacket-waistcoat-scarf, no-shirt look. Days later, this look strode down the designer's runway at Hotel Salomon de Rothschild. The no-shirt-at-all approach: the logical progression from the deep-scoop-necked T-shirt, non?
White is this year's tricky trend
White. Gleaming. Head-to-foot. A trio of shows proposed the look: YSL, Comme des Garçons, Givenchy. I scoffed at the idea, because despite the fact that a crisp white shirt on a hot summer's day can be a wonderful thing, white trousers just seem ludicrous. But as is the way with fashion, the more you see something, the more seduced you become.
At the Hermès show, a pair of loose-through-the-leg white slacks in seersucker with a drawstring waist appeared. That was when I wobbled, because, frankly, this collection was just about as fabulous and jet-set expensive-looking as you could ever wish Hermès to be, and therefore made white slacks seem almost doable.
Sports is the overarching trend that holds next season's menswear together, but there were varying degrees of success in terms of clothes you might actually want to buy. If anyone nailed it, it was Dries Van Noten, whose collection was full of desirable clothes that seemed to tap into a minimalist sportswear look. A sporty parka or mac is shaping up as a key buy for spring 2012 – and here there were great options in navy, wet-look brown or techy yellow. Other sporting highs: Givenchy's pleated tennis skirts and Wimbledon-green suit; Margaret Howell referencing old rugby shorts; Martin Margiela's red nylon cape. Meanwhile half the front row have now embraced old-school trainers (Nike or New Balance) with no socks.
Short suits and double-breasted jackets are here to stay
Both of these looks have been doing the rounds for a few seasons and yet neither have gone mainstream yet. At the Margaret Howell presentation, they had a very relaxed-looking DB in the cheaper MHL line, which, according to one of the design team, had sold well this season, hence its continuation.
Meanwhile, despite smarter shorts being embraced by a certain breed of fashionable man, the idea of a shorts suit, as seen at YSL and Comme des Garçons, still seems an unlikely hit on the UK high street. Perhaps both will become 2012's tailoring hits to counterbalance the spread of sportswear?
Fancy trousers are in
Stefano Pilati acknowledges applause at the end of his Yves Saint Laurent collection. Photograph: Jacques Brinon/AP
Cocktail trousers for men are next summer's most fashion-forward bottom half. Before Paris had even started, Prada had shown floral slacks for chaps. Dries Van Noten showed a wide horizontal striped trouser in gold, navy and white, while Lanvin closed their show with a bold wide vertical stripe pair. At YSL, designer Stefano Pilati added combat pockets to suit trousers, but far more exciting was the pair of animal print strides he wore for his end-of-show bow. Trainspotters will note this print is similar to the pattern on Métro seats. Dior Homme's cropped turnup trousers were a triumph of tailoring. And on the streets of Paris, men are embracing the bright-chino trend with gusto.