PARIS — For weeks, hundreds of fashion professionals have been following fashion shows much the way that groupies once followed the Grateful Dead: in like-minded packs, across countries and nations, communicating among themselves in their own argot, focused to the exclusion of nearly everything else on the entertainment at hand.
Fashion week is a bubble, insulated from the outside world and very often chauffeured. But even in the bubble, reality sometimes intrudes.
It has been a glum season for men’s fashion, just as it has been a glum season for men. In London, Florence, Milan and now Paris, where the collections drew to a close Sunday, a pall has hung over the proceedings.
The American presidential campaign has been stormy; Brexit, first in theory and then in reality, led to numb disbelief among many in Britain and beyond. Designers showed collections for next spring and summer, but sun and fun seemed far off. With clouds gathering, the trend was to batten down for rain. Or worse.
With Acne Studios, the Stockholm-based creative director Jonny Johansson has built a hugely successful global empire. But he maintains an existential moodiness all the same, and spent his spring collection presentation gazing out a back window, ruminating on rain. The collection was about “the emptiness of Swedish summer,” he said. A Swedish summer is filled with mostly rain, Mr. Johansson clarified.
“Though not this year, for once,” he added. “It’s been here. It hasn’t been in Sweden.”
Enter storm clouds. Not long before Paris fashion week, persistent rains burst the banks of the Seine, and the biggest impression at Acne was made by the laminated raincoats, in tablecloth checks and plaids, with exaggerated collars and tent-like volumes. Even poplin shirts were plasticized.
The collection was a strong one for Acne, and the first with a new men’s designer, Paul Surridge, formerly of Z Zegna, working under Mr. Johansson.
At the Lanvin show the next day, the label’s men’s designer, Lucas Ossendrijver, was in a protective mood. The Lanvin troops marched through the Palais de Tokyo, the Paris contemporary art museum, in raw-hemmed suits, shirts and trousers striped with reflective tape, oversize parkas and sneakers tied with hiking laces.
Mr. Ossendrijver spoke of the “urgency and speed” of the clothes, which had a kind of trek-ready survivalist chic. Many had creases and scars baked in: expensive clothes finished in hot presses to take a portion of preciousness out. Brand new, they seemed already to have been through battle.
“There’s a sense of danger, of darkness, but also of seduction,” Mr. Ossendrijver said.
There was an eerie threat of danger looming at Sacai, the Tokyo-based line by Chitose Abe, too, as you might expect from a collection inspired by “A Clockwork Orange.” Ms. Abe offered her own semi-bowler hats and clomping boots and T-shirts that read “Horrorshow.”
But “horror show” in Nadsat “Clockwork”-speak means “wonderful,” and the collection was that, too: sprightly and colorful, full of sporty shorts and big billowing pants, military-style outerwear remade in pop-bright shades. Ms. Abe splices and dices different garments into one another, and different patterns and traditions, also, so that in one collection Hawaiian hibiscus florals met English paisleys and Mexican blanket stripes.
She didn’t dither over the disparity.
“To be free is to be modern,” Ms. Abe said, via an interpreter. “We pick every detail from all over the world and put it together. Why can’t we live together?”
There, again, darkness crept in, though Ms. Abe, who has never before been in Paris for one of her men’s presentations, kept the mood (mostly) light.
“We have to enjoy,” she said, “while we’re still surviving.”