Recently I have written an homage to Paris for my Story Behind the Picture section. The French city is often considered the capital of European fashion (some people think this title belongs to Milan or London but the strong influence of the legendary French couturiers on modern fashion is still relevant to this day) and Paris Fashion Week has always been the ultimate celebration of haute couture and prêt-à-porter.
Among the most defining moments of this fashion week were Jacquemus opening his first eponymous store at 58 Avenue Montaigne, Victoria Beckham’s PFW debut with her S/S 2023 collection and model Bella Hadid having a dress spray-painted on her for the closing of the Coperni show.
Being from Milan, I got to live the atmosphere of Milan Fashion Week over the years and I have recently talked about my MFW experience; however, I have been envisioning Paris Fashion Week as something magical and extremely fascinating ever since I started reading fashion show reviews on Italian magazine Book Moda in 2007; every designer who presented their collections at PFW seemed to reflect the style I was looking to embrace. I have always been attracted by French style because my mother has always dressed like a Parisian woman and I have often looked up to her for my own wardrobe choices (except for a few experiments during my teenage years!), so I was eagerly waiting to see what this edition had in store.
Below I have rounded up my favorite looks from PFW S/S 2023:
1) SAINT LAURENT: Anthony Vaccarello’s Spring/Summer 2023 was all about physicality and celebrating the body. The main inspiration for this collection was 80s Grace Jones and the entire show was built on the concept of length; the outerwear was predominantly oversize, with the coats replacing the clothes as the main stars of the show. This created a series of powerful looks that were impossible to take your eyes off of; the color palette was the epitome of elegance, with camels, purples, olives, tobacco shades and soft browns. The shoes were barely noticeable due to the length of the dresses and coats and they ranged from minimal sandals to satiny pumps; this brought the audience’s gaze to focus on the width of the shoulders and the length of the outfits.
The nightly-lit Eiffel Tower was the perfect backdrop for this show, whose setting included also the Fontaine de Varsovie in the Jardins du Trocadéro; due to the rhythmic soundtrack, the atmosphere was quite dramatic and suitable for the clothes that were shown. The whole collection combined Vaccarello’s minimalism with the sensuality and elegance that are so typical of Yves Saint Laurent’s style. It was dark, it was glamorous and it was so difficult to pick just one particular look because I fell in love with every double-breasted coat I was seeing on the runway (the long black dress was amazing, too). The ensemble pictured above spoke to me, with the gloves and sunglasses adding a touch of mystery to the whole outfit in the best possible way.
2) LOEWE: a symbol of love and passion, the anthurium flower made of giant fiberglass was literally growing from the floor for the setting of Loewe S/S 2023 and was made to creatively represent the connection between nature and technology, the latter being evident with the introduction of pixelated hoodies and t-shirts on the runway.
Jonathan Anderson brought this collection to life looking at the flower’s sensuality, seen both as a part of nature and an element of design. The flower was everywhere, from the dresses to the tops and the shoes, which ranged from high heels décolletés to braided and texturized red sandals which resembled the petals of a flower.
There was an element of delicate sensuality that was present in all the outfits designed by Anderson; I am choosing this white gown with the enormous calla lily bloom as my favorite outfit; it may not be for everyone, but it is definitely something never seen before because of its purity and originality. The designer described the flower as “a product of nature that looks like an object of design and was treated as such.”
3) GIAMBATTISTA VALLI: for his S/S 2023 collection, Giambattista Valli looked at both 1960s Roman aristocracy and oriental inspirations, presenting a series of outfits that enhanced colors and trimmings; tulle is the timeless characteristic of Valli’s style, and here it was mainly used on cocktail mini-dresses. Pearls and embroideries reminiscent of India were the main characters of the show, as Valli said he took inspiration from Asian landscapes and flower markets while building the palette for this collection. The turbans and maxi-earrings worn by the models evoked nomadism, as the designer confessed: “I always loved the idea of nomadic. […] It’s nice to have no limits; no borders. I want to see the horizon and get inspired by other cultures. Be curious, be nomadic.” He wanted to focus on pure emotion, communicated primarily through colors, as he explained backstage: “I want to give colors with smell, taste, and textures. […] You want to wear them, you want to smell them…you almost want to eat them.” I chose look #21 because I love both the flower print and the cut of this dress.
4) VICTORIA BECKHAM: this marked the British designer’s first-ever fashion show in Paris sixteen years after creating her brand and having previously showed her collections in New York for ten years and in London for the past four years. This S/S 2023 collection was fresh and young, with draped and cami dresses and blazers that gave models like Gigi Hadid and Vittoria Ceretti a very graceful look; all the outfits were emblematic of flawless draping and contemporary tailoring. The show took place in the Church of Val-de-Grâce cloisters; the designer’s family members and illustrious guests like French designer Simon Porte Jacquemus and American fashion journalist Derek Blasberg were in attendance. I have been a fan of Victoria Beckham since the Spice Girls era and have always appreciated her work as a fashion designer with every collection she put out; the latest one was more elaborate even with the use of tassels for the bags and it was a very successful Paris debut. The green draped gown worn by Bella Hadid is my favorite outfit from her S/S 2023 collection.
5) VALENTINO: at the beginning of 2022 Pierpaolo Piccioli designed a collection that paid homage to the color fuchsia, so at the presentation of his S/S 2023 collection there were plenty of guests dressed in fuchsia. The color palette for the new collection didn’t include fuchsia at all; there were instead a lot of outfits in beige, red and even total black, (especially for the closing of the show), not forgetting to mention intensely saturated colors like acid green and electric blue for the sequined clothes and the V logo, which helped embellish some of the outfits. The collection was titled Unboxing and it included a series of clothes that were one with the wearer’s body, like the red outfit I have picked as my favorite. I love wearing red, and through the decades Valentino has made the color red his own, as it is now a true symbol of the Roman fashion house. Piccioli reinvented it for dynamic outfits like this one and it is very elegant and sophisticated in its simplicity. Each one of the outfits presented by the designer was made to give strength and self-awareness to the woman wearing it.
6) AKRIS: the unveiling of S/S 2023 for the 100th anniversary of the Swiss fashion house took place at an open-air location outside the Palais de Tokyo; Albert Kriemler, the creative director of Akris, selected nine pieces from the archives to be presented on the runway, as the show opened with a double-face cashmere coat which dates back to 1978 (I absolutely fell in love with that coat). Many of the clothes were inspired by some beloved and historical pieces, like the gabardine wool suit from 1993. This collection aimed to enhance the personality of the woman wearing the clothes, focusing on the concept of authenticity. Warm tones, a series of outfits in black with the appearance of some pieces in green or blue (two colors that were present in many collections for the next spring/summer season), plus a few key pieces printed in multicolored hearts, which were firstly made by Italian manufacturer Gianpaolo Ghioldi for Akris in the 1980s. I particularly enjoyed the series of outfits in beige, my favorite being Look #16, a sleeveless trench coat which is perfect for the warm season.
7) CHANEL: with this collection, Virginie Viard perfectly captured the essence of Coco Chanel’s heritage. The S/S 2023 fashion show took place at the Grand Palais Éphémère, with images from the Alain Resnais film “Last Year at Marienbad” (a Nouvelle Vague classic for which Coco Chanel designed some of the costumes back in 1961) used as a backdrop; the movie served as an inspiration for Viard for Chanel S/S 2023.
Photographed an filmed by Inez & Vinoodh in a clip that was screened right before the show, American actress Kristen Stewart was chosen by Chanel to promote a collection which was all about infusing glamour with freshness and sensuality; there were cardigan jackets, short evening dresses and tweeds embellished with ostrich feathers or embroidered with ribbons. The palette was mainly black and ivory, with a few pastel looks making an appearance halfway through the show. From the jackets in classic bouclé and soft pantsuits to the outfits made in light chiffon to enhance transparencies; this collection was a true work of art that mixed modernity with tradition and aimed to express the concept of evolving and constantly renewing yourself, as Kristen Stewart said in the clip: “ Our identities are these lifelong, evolving art projects. […] The mythologies that define us, that unite us, they’re ours to create. […] It’s no longer important to know who you are or even what you want. I think it’s important to burn down your very best yesterday, every day, so you can start again.” My favorite look is this polka-dot coat dress, the true quintessence of timeless elegance.
The images in this post link to the Vogue Runway website, where you will find all PFW SS2023 collections.
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