Our Highlights from Paris Fashion Week SS23 Emily Downie October 6, 2022 MESSFashion At the end of a hectic fashion month schedule, Paris Fashion Week provides the closing finale with its 10 day line up of iconic fashion spectacles. Vaquera Vaquera, the New York-based fashion brand, returned to Paris Fashion Week for a second time to present their SS23 line at Dover Street Market. The models stormed down the runway to a heavy but heart-racing techno beat, wearing acid-wash denim, puff sleeve pieces, and oversized jumpers, creating slouched silhouettes. Garments were cut apart and spliced together in artistically messy collages. Designers Patric DiCaprio and Bryn Taubensee successfully managed to incorporate the flashy American dream into the sophisticated French capital. This is a motif which the designers run with often: only five years ago, the brand took New York Fashion Week by storm with their iconic American flag dress with a mile-long train. Dior Maria Grazia Chiuri, Creative director at Dior, brought great power to the SS23 collection: Chiuri took inspiration from Catherine de Medici, the Italian Queen of France from 1547 to 1559. De Medici is known for introducing Burano lace, platform heels and corsets to the French court throughout her reign, elements which were heavily featured throughout the Dior SS23 collection. Corsets were styled over white shirts with splayed, voluminous sleeves, similar to those worn by men in the early renaissance epoch. Hooped skirts decorated with classic Venetian lace were cinched at the waist with drawstring. Maria Grazia Chiuri managed to create a perfect connection between past noble fashion and present everyday wear. However, one look in particular stood out from the rest: a dress which moved away from the theme of nobility and instead gave a nod to a typical peasant dress with a sandy coloured palette. Saint Laurent Models glided through the Jardins du Trocadéro, the Eiffel Tower in the background and a starry night sky above, to set the mood for the sexiest show of Paris Fashion Week. The looks designed by creative director Anthony Vaccarello were influenced by Saint Laurent’s signature styles from the 80s, which included floor-length column dresses in subdued, monochromatic colour schemes and hoods to evoke mystique. This motif is carried across multiple looks in a vast range of colours, from mustard yellow to auburn to black. The event was A-list heavy, with appearances from Kate Moss, Amber Valetta, Hailey Bieber, Rosie-Huntington Whitely, and Carla Bruni Sarkozy in the audience. Acne Studios Set in a room with abstract candelabras, silk bedspreads and a pink carpeted runway, the SS23 collection from Acne Studios expertly established a balance between delicate, childlike pastels and richly coloured pieces in brooding blacks, carnal reds, and royal blues. A romantically pink occasion, the designers incorporated ribbon, silk trims and bows into most of the looks, playfully placing them as accessories on boots, sandals, or even as nipple coverings. Balmain For Balmain’s SS23 collection, French designer Olivier Rousteing drew inspiration from a variety of ideas and cultures, including festival aesthetics, African culture, and mythological tales. The show commenced with Cher on a screen backdrop, telling the audience: “All of us invent ourselves. Some of us just have more imagination than others.” Iconic. Necklaces covering almost the entire neck, large gold earrings, textured dresses, nose rings, and chunky shoes are just a few examples of the references to African culture that inspired the collection. Rousteing’s signature corseted design was also present in some looks. The show was closed by the designer strutting down the runway hand-in-hand with Cher herself, who filled the stadium with a performance of her ‘99 hit, “Strong Enough”. The show also featured performances from Youssou N’Dour and Nigerian star of Afrobeats, Ckay. Photo courtesy of AFP Ludovic de Saint Sernin Ludovic de Saint Sernin is known for unapologetically pushing the fashion industry’s boundaries – the SS23 collection was rich with sensuality and power, challenging binaries with skirts and baby-doll dresses for all genders. Ludovic de Saint Sernin has carved out a space in the industry to create his own expressive niche of clothes that is for anyone and everyone to wear, no matter how they may identify. The show was held in a Parisian warehouse, with smoke in the air and exposed brick to set the atmosphere for an underground aesthetic. Loewe Loewe is iconically known for the whimsical and extravagant approach to ready-to-wear fashion for both the men and women’s collections – the newest collection does not stray from this. Jonathan Anderson has given LOEWE fresh life since his appointment as creative director back in 2013, featuring odd, eccentric shapes and surrealistic-inspired patterns that captivate onlookers in his collections. In the SS23 collection, Anderson incorporated the anthurium flower as his star motif, appearing in some way or other on almost every look of the show, be it as an accessory on shoes or acting as the upper bodice of a dress. He also featured ensembles that resembled pixelated video graphics in a nod to classic ‘90s video games, appearing almost as three-dimensional optical illusions to the naked eye. Christian Wijnants Christian Wijnants returns to Paris Fashion Week after two years with the newest SS23 collection. With makeup looks inspired by waking up from a rejuvenating nap on the beach with sand dusted across one side of your face, we cannot get closer to summer than this. The collection’s colour palette embraces soft neutrals, pastel greens, rich reds and floral prints. The motif of the collection circles around joyously embracing the beauty and optimism that the warm months bring. Each look moves away from traditional silhouettes, instead encompassing free form with flowing linen pants and dresses, an ode to the leisure and freedom of summer. With a new store opening in Berlin, the brand’s newest collection is set to inspire a refreshing take on the season’s street style. Victoria Beckham Friday marked Victoria Beckham’s debut at Paris Fashion Week. Showcasing complicated dress constructions that challenged the traditional silhouette with deconstructed tailoring, models glided down the runway staged in the church of the Val-de-Grâce, accompanied by a haunting aria from Madame Butterfly. The dramatic, sexy and feminine collection spoke volumes about Beckham’s knowledge of the industry after 10 years as a top fashion insider. Coperni The show to close Friday evening was by the wondrous Coperni. The runway featured memorable highlights, including a dress embroidered with a thousand tiny shards of glass that tinkled as the model walked, and a bag made of 1kg (you read that right) of solid gold made by Gabriele Veneri, an Italian artisan goldsmith. But the most enrapturing moment of the evening was the fashion house’s debut of a spray-on dress, modelled by Bella Hadid. Hadid walked up to a white platform where she was sprayed with a white liquid that dries to form a wearable dress. Stylists then adjusted the dress, creating a bardot neckline and a slit up the leg, before Hadid proceeded to model this on the runway. What a way to close the show. Designers Arnaud Vaillant and Sébastien Meyer collaborated with Spanish designer and scientist Manel Torres, and his team at London’s Bioscience Innovation Centre, to produce this innovative moment. The application of the piece took us into a futuristic setting, and was reminiscent of the white Alexander McQueen dress that was modelled by Shalom Harlow and spray-painted on the runway by two robots for the SS99 Savage Beauty collection. Coperni are known for pushing the boundaries of fashion through scientific innovation, having previously debuted hand-blown glass bags, XR-shot campaigns and antibacterial fashion. This is a moment that is sure to go down in fashion history. Vivienne Westwood The SS23 collection was styled by Vivienne Westwood’s creative director Andreas Kronthaler, who mostly employed deadstock mesh, commissioned silk jacquard, and even some old pieces from his personal wardrobe. Kronthaler abolished gender norms from the presentation, allowing the models to dress in any kind of clothing regardless of their identity. For instance, most models wore chunky platform heels as a nod to the legendary go-go boots from the 1960s. The collection had a sense of raunchiness, with all-baring chaps, shredded t-shirts, and revealing tights worn beneath crocheted underwear. However, one outfit deviated from this theme: a gentle satin gown that looked as though the model had been covered in silk sheets, voluminous in its grandeur. With corsets styled as full dress tops, baroque flowers strewn across cropped jackets, and ruched double-breasted blazers, the Renaissance was also a prominent theme in the collection. Balenciaga Balenciaga gave an eye-opening nod to global threats that are causing such sorrow and despair, such as the very real threat of nuclear war, in their SS23 collection. The show was nothing short of a post-apocalyptic experience, with models stomping down a mud-drenched runway that resembled a war setting. Piles of mud were dug out to resemble war craters in the eerie set designed by Spanish artist Santiago Sierra. Kanye West made his runway debut, opening for the show. He wore military-like attire: a tactical jacket and leather pants with reinforced knees, with the addition of a mouth guard sporting Balenciaga’s logo. Models that followed appeared beaten up and exhausted, wearing tattered clothes and carrying worn out stuffed animal bags. Creative director Demna Gvasalia is a survivor of war himself, having fled Georgia at a young age with his family. He has also faced persecution for being openly gay, and it is these personal experiences that can be seen to have heavily influenced the show. Valentino The Valentino show opened with a model dressed in a buff beige caped dress, worn with a gloved knit bodysuit underneath, that were both adorned head to toe with the fashion house’s emblem. Even the model’s face was emblazoned with the iconic ‘V’ logo, courtesy of makeup artist Pat McGrath. Models followed in billowing, voluminous dresses in varying lengths, some with cut-out waists inspired by artist Lucio Fontana. Creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli delivered an extraordinary range for the collection’s colour palette – some looks were blindingly bright, with richly pigmented blues and reds and greens; others were subtly minimalist, in moody blacks and greys or soft neutrals. Piccioli has consistently proven to be thinking outside the box in the industry – for example, at the end of the SS23 show, he took the models out into the street for the public to view the collection. Piccioli also specifically used models who were not high status in the industry, in order to redirect focus on how successful each individual model is, and instead giving opportunities to newer models, some of whom have never walked the runway before. Germanier It’s safe to say that Germanier delivered on their return to Paris Fashion Week. With an extravagant SS23 collection that turned heads and dazzled onlookers, the concept of ‘annihilation’ served as inspiration for the fashion house’s showcase. Designer Kevin Germanier explained that he wanted to transform destruction in a positive way through this collection. The runway featured pieces embellished with glitter-strewn hems, pearls, asymmetric designs and cut outs to challenge the traditional silhouette, and even a 52 metre ostrich feather upcycled coat. Germanier is not afraid to construct designs that radiate energy, brightness and positivity, injecting an inviting magic into the luxurious couture. ChanelThe marvellous Chanel occupied one of the closing slots to mark the end of Paris Fashion Week, as well as an end to the SS23 fashion season as a whole. Creative director Virginie Viard opened the show with a black and white short film in Paris starring Kristen Stewart. She roams the streets of the city, ascends the Rue Cambon Chanel staircase, and boards the metro, wearing the spring collection. Stewart effortlessly exudes elegance and sophistication; at one point, she is dressed in a stunning floor-length dress adorned with rose gold sequins. The short film is essentially an homage to ‘L’Année Dernière à Marienbad’, the enchanting 1961 film directed by Alain Resnais starring Delphine Seyrig, who captivates viewers in her stunning array of Chanel designs. The SS23 collection featured clean cut suits in white, cream, or black patterned; glittering grosgrain-bowed crystal boots, tweed fabrics, mini coat dresses, sequined evening dresses – the collection explored many exciting motifs in reference to ‘Marienbad’ that did not disappoint. In an effort to appeal to the diversity of women who will wear the collection outside the runway, Viard showcased the pieces on a diverse range of body types – something we hope to see more of on runways to come.