PARIS FASHION WEEK SS2023: DIOR, SAINT LAURENT and BALMAIN
DIOR Gives a Royal Nod to Baroque Crinolines & Corsets, and Black Almost Upstages DRIES VAN NOTEN’s Psychedelic Florals. Things are Tactile and Futuristic at BALMAIN, CHLOE Opts for Swishy Metallics & Sequins and SAINT LAURENT’s Sexy Hoodie Dress is Back, Hooray!
Image Credit Paris Fashion Week and Vogue
Paris Fashion Week, arguably the most succulent cherry on top of the global fashion Gâteau, kicked off full throttle with a whopping 106 heavyweights – both local and international (the likes of UK based Victoria Beckham, Australian Zimmerman and American Rick Owens) and some extraordinary emerging brands strutting their stuff over 9 jampacked days in the City of Lights. Promisingly, Asian buyers have also returned to Paris for the first time since covid-19 (sigh of relief) … it may be safe to say (touch wood) that fashion is back to ‘normal’ (phew)!
The parallel celebrity side-show has got us chin-wagging too, with the likes of ethereal beauty Natalie Portman, model Elle MacPherson and starlet Iris Law spotted front-row at Dior, an age-defying, black legging-and-leotard-clad 76-year-old Cher walking at the end of Balmain’s show and a micro-mini-ed, fur wrapped glam-puss Kate Moss pouting and posing in the city. You get the picture? It’s glam on steroids in Paris at the end of September/ beginning of October, it’s what we know and love, and it seems to not only be fully on track again, it’s even better!
Trends are emerging as the week gets underway, but already we’ve spotted the typical Paris Fashion Week characteristics – a mix of chic & classic, super contemporary, polished & streamlined, futurist & avant-garde and of course, party-ready! The trend for the well-behaved, classy colour black that we saw in Milan has spilled over to Paris too, where a vast proportion of Dries Van Noten’s collection was uncharacteristically black. We saw Dior – also using black extensively – pay homage to French royalty with corsets and grandiose gowns, and Saint Laurent reinvented the hoodie-dress, showcasing flesh-baring cutouts and power-shoulders on coats. Balmain stunned with an immense collection (over 100 pieces) of otherworldly avant-garde creations. Awe-inspiring stuff!
As for sustainability, we trust that designers are fully conscious of the carbon footprint of these wonderful and staggering displays of indulgence and luxe we’re marveling over… This is all part and parcel of the extravaganza that is Paris Fashion Week, so let’s get to the nitty gritty and take a closer look at what all the fabulous fuss is about …
Strong, long, lean lines, power shoulders, cutouts, tubular dresses and sleek jersey hoodies on impossibly statuesque models defined creative director Anthony Vaccarello’s SS 2023 collection for Saint Laurent. Vaccarello played hide-and-seek with the body, at times revealing, at times concealing, always surprising. Draped jersey was the backbone of a collection that charmed with its simplicity, inspired colour choices and slightly retro power dressing principles. The shoulders on the jackets, great coats and trenches – often finished with epaulettes – were sharper than their counterparts back in the 80s but didn’t compromise one bit on size. Loungy pyjama-style pants, gauzy tulle wrap-skirts and even frou-frou polka dots & glitzy lamé leopard print made it into the mix. Bold gold cuffs and clunky 80s-style earrings complete the effortlessly sleek looks, with strappy, scant sandals … and plenty attitude! This is a collection for strong women, full stop.
Watch Saint Laurent’s SS 2023 show here:
Gabriela Hearst showed a well-behaved collection of (mostly) monotone black, cream, white and silver (no flimsy floral prints this season!) interrupted by the occasional pop of bright cerise or yellow ochre to an upbeat, poppy tune. Dresses with sculptural leg o’ mutton sleeves rubbed shoulders with graphic metallic mesh dresses and some very close-cut, simplistic sleeveless dresses. Some pieces were overtly romantic, with oversized frilled and flair sleeves – a poignant nod to ‘old-school’ Chloe. The leather inlay trend from previous seasons continued, with dresses embellished with organic-looking oval patchwork inserts. There were plenty leather jackets with leather hand-piping, piped capes and biker’s jackets covered in zips. Denim too made a cameo appearance, as did sequins, the latter in sexy, slinky body-con dresses. This is a tactile and crafted collection, sleek and contemporary, sexy, glamorous and perfectly balanced. Just what the fashion doctor ordered for taking you just about anywhere, come Spring / Summer.
Watch Chloe’s SS 2023 show here:
DRIES VAN NOTEN
A symphony in three movements, the undisputed king of colour kicked off a collection that, according to the man himself, is about ‘optimism’. This runway show, for starters, is the first time Van Noten has opted for a physical show in just under 3 years, which in our book is a pretty bold step in its own right. Rather uncharacteristic for Van Noten – who is famous for his use of colour – the first third of his collection was black – pitch black, nothing but black! This strangely enough made one appreciate the fabric surfaces, the silhouettes and the finer details of these genius pieces even more acutely. The tactile darts, fringing, brocades and ruffles on the jackets, skirts and tailoring are awe-inspiring! The second installment delivered Spring-like pale and washed-out colours, creased fabrics, endearing ruffles and crafty macramé. The third and final offering came in the shape of sumptuous floral chiffons and cottons in deep, psychedelically vibrant shades as an encore to a collection that built up its momentum slowly – from pure blackness through tentative washed-out colour – to an abundant climax of pure, unadulterated Spring joy and cheer!
Creative director for Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri paid homage to the past – and in particular Queen Catherine de Medici’s past. De Medici was an Italian aristocrat who ended up in France (and like de Medici, Chiuri is Italian but resident in France). Corsetry, hoop skirts, Italian ribbons & lace, ruching and platform heels (Catherine de Medici allegedly introduced all of these to the French court) are all part of the rich vocabulary of this collection. However, Chiuri’s (re)creations – the bra tops, jackets, trench coats, skirts, midriff-baring tops, shorts and party frocks in sumptuous floral cottons, patchwork, broderie anglaise and map prints are most certainly nothing as restrictive or modest as they will have been in the 16th century! In fact, although they have a wonderfully nostalgic feel to them, they’re utterly contemporary, even sexy. With a bit of imagination one can picture an emancipated Madonna or quirky Florence and the Machine performing on stage in any of these creations.
Watch Christian Dior’s SS 2023 show here:
Oliver Rousteing’s epic, ambitious collection of 100+ ingeniously designed avant-garde, sculptural couture pieces – ranging from futuristic to dystopian, theatrical to Renaissance, body-con to voluminous – have been, to say the least, extremely impressive. Just as impressive as the moment a 76-year-old Cher, all legs in an all-black ensemble, closed the collection by walking alongside the designer, stopping every few seconds on runway for a hug to huge cheers from the crowd. An unimaginably immense design process seems to have taken place in the house of Balmain in prep for SS 2023 – one can only imagine the armies of designers, pattern cutters, fitters, models, seamstresses and hand-finishers who were involved in creating this uber-extravagant body of work. Each individual piece is an inspired creation in its own right, and within the collection itself there are various themes, each equally inspired and evolved. From soft floral prints to patchwork, Renaissance art to sheer jersey, tactile flowers to ruffles, satin to raw edges, surface-printed flames to 3-D sculpture, this is a collection that’s far too diverse to try put into a box, it’s best viewed, so here goes …
Watch Balmain’s SS 2023 show here:
Watch Cher walk at Balmain SS 2023: