Dior Makes Attempt to Redefine Pants

The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 30, 2007; 8:17 PM

PARIS -- French designer Hedi Slimane on Tuesday delivered the boldest answer so far to the question that has been preoccupying designers from Paris to Milan this season: how to reinvent trousers for the modern man.

Prada and Calvin Klein proposed leggings and Yves Saint Laurent offered flannel pants. Slimane went one step further in his collection for Dior Homme, sending out men in dhoti pants that swaddled the leg in fabric from the waist down to the knee.

Rendered in smart gray or black gabardine, they were paired with rough workmen's boots that gave the look an unexpected edge.

Slimane's risque proposition may seem ill-timed, as the designer has been mired in negotiations to renew his contract with Dior for more than six months.

But Dior CEO Sidney Toledano insisted the luxury group LVMH _ which owns the brand _ was thrilled with its protege.

"I'm not going to talk about the negotiations, but things are going very, very well," Toledano told The Associated Press before the show. "Our relations with Hedi are excellent."

He added that Dior would post "very strong double-digit growth" for its menswear division when it publishes 2006 results next month.

The highly influential Slimane is known for his almost obsessive pursuit of ideas _ he once published a 208-page book of photographs of curtains. By sending out a good dozen models in the dhoti pants, he was making a point that could not be ignored.

The designer attracts such slavish devotion from his clients _ Mick Jagger, Brad Pitt and David Bowie, to name a few _ that a handful are bound to pick up the look for next winter.

But selling it to ordinary men will be tough. More likely, his concept will translate into a boxier thigh on trousers sold by high street chains such as Zara and H&M.

"People are really trying to make a new kind of pant for guys so they can reinvent the silhouette, so they can wear these little micro-jackets but have these baggy comfortable pants," Godfrey Deeny, senior critic at Fashion Wire Daily, said earlier this week.

"Realistically, not many guys are going to wear leggings. But this kind of punky jodhpur thing, where they have protective gear on the inside of the knees and there's a military stripe on the side, I think a lot of people will wear them," he added.

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