Paris-based Dutch designer Paul Helbers knows that everyone now expects a lot from their clothes, and is driven to bring them excellence. Having a deep understanding of artisan disciplines, his approach to his eponymous menswear label merges the antiquarian with the contemporary. For his début collection, he worked between fashion fantasy and lifestyle reality, creating an essential edit of what a man needs, without overwhelming him with product. Loosely inspired by Bela Lugosi, classic Robert Rauschenberg photographs and early Irving Penn’s portraits of Leonard Bernstein and TS Elliot, Paul Helbers filled his launch collection with terrific, solid classics. The small, but perfectly executed and curated collection offers tailoring, knits, sportswear, shoes and bags. Each piece contains a hybrid quality and a feeling of unpolished elegance underlined by the subtle clash of contrasting fabrics, celebrating the rough and the refined. Ideas were carried out with a carefully chosen fusion of low-end and high-end materials always applying a rigorous manufacturing standard. The absence of ostentatious elements was a deliberate choice in order to formulate an unprecious sense of appearance. An impressive boxy double-breasted grey suit has been crafted from cotton, wool and alpaca jersey with the natural looking shoulder line of the jacket structured with an ultra light weight goat hair construction and the cropped length of the pant especially cut to avoid any flaring. In the more casual offering, the designer created some outerwear jackets and coats, some inspired from vintage military pieces and waterproofed. After years spent designing men’s for Maison Martin Margiela and Louis Vuitton, Paul Helbers has an eye for the smallest details, using, for instance, only naturally dyed horn buttons or creating double pocket constructions on tailored pants so they can be even more user friendly. Aligned with this design philosophy, his first shoe designed is a derby made with a Goodyear stitching construction on a supple sole. A restrained palette of gray, army green, navy, beige and ivory heightened the timeless factor. The essence of Helbers lies in the pleasure of forging a product with a tangible dose of life, and poised with the intelligence of today’s technology to enhance its longevity. The designer’s goal is to create clothes that will appeal to all generations more concerned with comfort and quality than fashion.