It followed the dark, flowing silhouettes displayed by Saint Laurent on Tuesday's opening night -- the first time the iconic French label has shown during the Paris menswear week since its Italian designer Anthony Vaccarello took over the reins in 2016.

It is seen as a sign of the growing importance of menswear, which is now the fastest-growing fashion sector in many markets.

"Saint Laurent, Gucci and Givenchy are working almost better in men's than women's at the moment," Alice Feillard, director of buying for Paris department store Galeries Lafayette, told AFP ahead of fashion week.

Anthony Alvarez, designer of young French brand Bluemarble, brought a relaxed party feel to the American Cathedral near the Champs Elysees.

But, there was still a place for suits among the tie-dye colours, rainbows, sequins, chapkas and oversized faux fur coats.

Backstage, Alvarez described his collection as "somewhere between the energy of the New Orleans carnival and the mystery of the Venice carnival.

"There are more suits than normal. The tailoring represents European savoir-faire, but I've reworked it with baggy cuts," he told AFP.

More women are finding a place among the top-level menswear designers.

After a well-received opening show from Grace Wales Bonner, fellow Brit Bianca Saunders also offered her own twists on suits and overcoats on Wednesday.

But with some 100 shows in the official line-up, there is room for plenty of styles, however.

Belgian avant-gardist Walter Van Beirendonck put on a typically wild and colourful display, with models wearing masks reminiscent of Mexican wrestlers and little inflatable wheels dotted over their bodies.

He said the protective gear reflected our "very dark, very hard time".

"It's a collection with a lot of protection," he told AFP after the show. "That's why I started to work with the exoskeleton idea."

But Van Beirendonck insisted real people could wear them.

"Probably they're crazy and they're funny and they're expensive, but in the end, they're wearable," he said.