Head to any good restaurant in Paris and you're likely to have a similar experience. The food will be rich (even the best Japanese restaurants in the city of lights serve foie gras); the wine will be excellent; and the service will be indifferent.
The reason? Parisians know that their city is one of the most sublime 105 square kilometers anywhere on the planet, and they really aren't that bothered if you're present or not. A sweeping generalisation? Sure. But rather than being something we dislike, it's one of the main reasons we keep coming back. That and fashion week, of course.
Attending Men's fashion week in Paris is a bit like visiting one of the city's finest bistros. Where London and Milan served up entirely different, unexpected experiences this time round - with countless brands changing their time slots, presenting statically as opposed to on a runway or indeed not showing at all; in Paris it was business as usual. The clothes were expertly made and elegantly presented, the settings striking, and the timetable pretty much entirely unchanged since last season – unaffected by the machinations of the rest of the fashion world.
First on the menu was Louis Vuitton, where British creative director Kim Jones served up a collection influenced heavily by Africa – the continent where he spent much of his childhood. Where Jones' first collection for the brand (this was his eleventh) featured luxurious takes on Masai scarves, his Spring Summer '17 offering was, perhaps, a little less literal. Combining the aforementioned African influences with riffs on the London punk scene; plush mohair jumpers featured colourful prints inspired by springbok and impala, transparent rubber macs were coated with an oversized Louis Vuitton monogram, and brogues came finished with crepe soles. One of the standout pieces of the show was a woven leather and canvas car coat, which was as expertly crafted as a perfect cassoulet.
A similar attention to craft could be found at Hermes, where creative director Veronique Nichanian presented a typically chic collection. Eerily light Lambskin cardigans in shades of beef bourguinon and fleur de sel caramel were throw-on friendly, while bombers cut from the same fabrics were commercial and covetable. Colour came in the form of a pair of cuffed trousers in tarte au citron and a neat cobalt tie dye, which was found on vaporous silk shirts and equally delicate suede bombers.
At Lanvin things were similarly detail-focused. Creative director Lucas Ossendrijver (who is currently celebrating his tenth year at the brand) presented a collection dedicated, in his words, "to handmade craftsmanship". Perfectly cut ankle swinging trousers featured hand-stitched pockets, as did many shirt cuffs. The utility trend seen across the board in London and Milan was also present here, with light parkas and function-ready field jackets cut from effervescent fabrics.
At Korean label Wooyoungmi the mood was similar, with the focus falling on lightweight cloths. A beautiful pyjama top in midnight blue silk was finished with scarlet topstitching and was – to my mind - the stand out piece of the show.
Sticking with softness, Jason Basmajian's second collection for Cerruti elaborated on the slick tone set out by his first. Combining smart sportswear with immaculate tailoring – unlined coats in bon bon blue and slouchy suits (with obligatory cargo pockets) in macaroon pink had an eighties feel, paying dutiful lip service to the understated aesthetic of the company's founder Nino Cerruti. In addition to the tailoring, Basmajian also relaunched the brand's denim line with a range of italian-made, japanese-selvedge pieces. A raw denim bomber teamed with a pair of matching slim cut jeans demonstrated an entirely new way of wearing double denim.
Kris Van Assche, creative director of Dior Homme, took the work-ready, military mantel to its zenith in Paris, showing a collection inspired by memories from his childhood. Set against the backdrop of a brightly-lit rollercoaster, the collection had a punky, industrial feel. Beautifully cut suits (a specialty of the house) came embellished with silver staples and eyelets, while nylon parkas and bombers were finished with a eye-catching chevron pattern in shades of fatigue green, blood stripe red and black.
At Givenchy, the clothes were equally serviceable. Ricardo Tisci's Spring Summer '17 collection riffed on the boy-scout theme seen everywhere in Milan, only this time it came imbued with Tisci's gritty, jail yard aesthetic. Many pocketed trench coats were shown alongside suits paneled with mesh and a money-print camouflage; while backpacks came furnished with Givenchy branded sleep matts and the models wore action ready cycling glasses - just the thing for a spot of rambling in the fashion forest (on the outskirts of Paris, in case you were wondering).
The final show came, as ever, from British designer Paul Smith. A fitting end to a consistently flavoursome fashion week, Sir Paul's Spring Summer '17 show was less tarte tatin, more rhum baba. Inspired by the many decades Sir Paul has spent living in West London and his love of Notting Hill Carnival, the collection was colourful, upbeat and blown through with a warm West Indian breeze. Suits cut in the sixties style were lightweight and worn with sportswear pieces such as multi-coloured track tops and polo shirts with oversized collars. A set of overalls in tropical tartan combined the brand's bright aesthetic with the workwear mood of the moment, while a perfectly cut pleated trouser – teamed with a crisp white shirt - nodded to Sir Paul's tailoring prowess.
Right, I think that's us about done. L'addition, sil vous plait!