Paris Fashion Week AW 2023: Not a dull moment so far, and the weekend did not disappoint either. Style aficionados bore witness to a lineup of highly anticipated shows along with some of the most memorable moments as Pierre Cardin returned to the French capital, Vivienne Westwood’s show paid tribute to the late icon and Balenciaga held its first runway after the controversy. From Elie Saab’s floral silhouettes and Hermès’s monochromatic looks to Valentino’s reinterpretation of formal dressing, here are some of our favorite shows and best looks from the last two days.
‘Enveloping and warm, monochrome silhouettes unfold in their winter tones,’ said the collection notes; and this was embodied in every single look as Hermès creative director Nadege Vanhee-Cybulski made a simple, but powerful, proposition for autumn. Inside the space of the Garde Républicaine, walls and carpeted floor were a warm mustard color, colors like copper, brown, gold and ‘blonde’ beige, made up the entirety of a look all the way down to the accessories, including the over-the-knee square-toed boots and satin riding caps which recurred throughout. The one-color concept created a minimalist feeling even when the looks featured layering and details, such as long duffle-style coats in double-sided cashmere, zip-up coats in shiny lambskin, embroidery, belts, buckles and straps.
For AW23 collection Elie Saab was in a Renaissance mood, offering up darkly romantic floral motifs with forest, ruby and citrine blooms.To the sounds of electric guitar, models exited in a series of floral looks featured against an ink black background. This transitioned to what is becoming the hue of the season—a deep garnet red. Streamlined and free of chi-chi, looks included jumpsuits, chiffon dresses, and wool trench-coats with pretty floral cutouts at the hem. These crept up dresses and settled into pretty poet blouses. Other looks featured all-over paillettes with gold appliqué. And finally, some ruffles on acid yellow. Blooms for any mood, woman, or event.
Back in Paris, Sarah Burton presented a collection which the designer said drew on the idea of anatomy – ‘human anatomy, the anatomy of clothing, the anatomy of flowers,’each one rooted in the history of the brand, and perennial touch points for its founder Alexander McQueen. The collection was a reminder of the sharpness and excellence of the tailoring—for women and for men—and the expression of a darkly explosive imagination that is alive in the McQueen ateliers in London. Naomi Campbell, in a black jumpsuit with a swooping corseted bustier, opened a show of impeccable black suits, white shirts and black ties, and pinstripes cut into jackets and morphing into tailored strapless dresses. Strictness and pulled-together uniform have been surfacing as a theme this season; here, there was a precision and controlled tension of kinkiness where nothing was quite what it seemed.
It was one of the most awaited moments of the season, and an event for which the address was only shared with guests the night before the show. Today, Balenciaga invitees were greeted with a personal note from Demna left on their chairs. After months of negative press and outrage from customers after child image misuse, the designer shared that “in the last couple of months, I needed to seek shelter for my love affair with fashion and I instinctively found it in the process of making clothes. It reminded me once again of its amazing power to make me feel happy and truly express myself. This is why fashion to me can no longer be seen as entertainment, but rather as the art of making clothes.” Back to this simplicity that Demna discovered at six years old when his parents allowed him to design and produce at a local tailor, the fall 23 collection presented a sober, deconstructed show filled with oversized jackets—look closely and the hems were in fact the waistlines of dress pants or jeans. Master tailoring that turns the bottom into a top. But the real mastery was the dresses. Plissé chiffon fabric draped and dusted the floor, colored an angelic white. Flower prints in yellow and poppy red were offered like a bouquet. The final looks, brilliant black dresses covered in sequins created a dimensional, inky Soulages effect. The music was a harmony of piano keys and remorseful, strumming guitar. Time will tell if Balenciaga’s customer will meet Demna’s outstretched, open hand.
Pierpaolo Piccioli mastered his reinterpretations and deconstructions of traditional formal attire in his ‘Black Tie’ collection. The 73-look collection explored nearly every corner of formal dressing: the little black dress, a modified tuxedo suit, the crisp white button-down, or an evening jacket were subverted here. Looks showcased the wealth of techniques, skills, fabrics and trimmings he uses is thoroughly true to the house. Underneath the white-collar, black-tie concept peeked delicate frill-front blouses, ostrich feathers, sequined minis, 3-d roses, and a dress made entirely of a lattice-work of red bowties, amongst a collection that was also strong on classy, voluminous coats. Still, it was one long, unembellished silk shirt-dress, draped to one side at the hip that summed up the new Valentino spirit better than anything. It captured a mysterious blend of flou and cool, in a standout red.