Although Paris Fashion Week has always been primarily about sophistication, recent editions have also seen an innovative spirit that challenges classic rules and aims to experiment with new forms of fashion, playing with materials, shapes and style combinations. This PFW edition was marked by several events and anecdotes, such as Pierre Cardin’s return with a futurist collection, the black tie as a must-have element for pretty much every Valentino look presented by Pierpaolo Piccioli, Stella McCartney’s classic dresses with images of horses showcased at a prestigious riding school (the show was also attended by horses, together with their renowned instructor Jean François Pignon, who uses a completely cruelty-free method in training, without touching them). Lanvin and his 18th-century and Renaissance inspirations for his collection of tailored suits in black and burgundy, alternating with embroidered evening gowns with sequins. Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons with her ample sculptural silhouettes. After last season’s famous “spray-on” dress, the designers at the helm of Coperni introduced a series of dog-robots on the runway that interacted with the models in what was an energy-filled fashion show. One of the most iconic moments occurred during Noir Kei Ninomiya’s “Noir in Bloom” fashion show, which explored new dimensions through a series of 3D creations, with clothes that looked like “molecular studies”(the outfit closing this fashion show really looked like a molecular explosion). I found many of the looks from Paris Fashion Week brilliant and innovative as well as elegant; below I have selected seven of my favorites:
1) BALMAIN: for the Fall/Winter 2023 collection, Olivier Rousteing was inspired by the Pierre Balmain archives. “By celebrating where we come from, we clearly see where we are headed”, said the designer. Who, for this show, abandoned street-style to return to his roots, with more structured fashion reminiscent of the shows of yesteryear. The designer had the opportunity to explore Balmain’s most significant collections, based on excellent craftsmanship, and actualize that savoir-faire in this new collection. A collection made of shoulder-less silhouettes, severe skirts and rhinestone dresses, with jackets reminiscent of the style of the ’80s. Not only black and white, but also polka dots. And red, a color that was seen several times at the Milan shows last week. The outfits were a tribute to the genius of Pierre Balmain, as Rousteing stated: “In this collection I go back to the roots, the new style of Monsieur Balmain, and that to me is passion turning into luxury and quality. We are surrounded by fireworks and all this craziness—social media—but at the end of the day we go back to quality… to understand the future you must understand the past, and this collection is clearly an homage to the House that I am working for.” I love this black and white short tailleur and cape dress with matching red bag, classically shaped and complete with long black gloves that added a touch of old-world elegance.
2) PACO RABANNE: the Paco Rabanne FW 2023 fashion show had something very unique about it, due to the founder’s recent passing at the age of 88. The clothes that Julien Dossena showcased on the runway were a final tribute to the Spanish designer, who modernized fashion in the 1960s with his futuristically designed clothes. Dossena also thought to pay tribute to him by celebrating the designer’s friendship with Salvador Dalí, as seen in some of the dresses on the runway. He used some of Dalí’s surrealist paintings as prints for some of the designs, especially for the long gowns. The precious mini dresses, on the other hand, were designed by Rabanne himself and were reminiscent of the first ones made of metal plates from the 1960s. The Spanish designer was one of the first to launch metallic dresses, inspiring creatives of later generations. A futurist aesthetic appreciated by many prominent figures of the time such as Françoise Hardy and Audrey Hepburn, who would often wear his revolutionary creations. The soundtrack during the finale of the show consisted of Paco Rabanne’s voiceover narrating his creative process in couture and it was very moving. I really love the short metal dresses and also the cashmere and wool designs but I am choosing this blue outfit with the rocky landscape as my favorite because the surrealist print gowns on the runway were incredibly creative.
3) OFF-WHITE: the Off-White FW 2023 collection was Ibrahim Kamara’s official debut at the helm of the brand after the passing of Virgil Abloh, who founded Off-White. Kamara was a longtime collaborator of Abloh and his talent is already evident in the FW 2023 collection. Titled Lunar Delivery and set on a red Earth surface with a reflective sphere symbolizing the moon, the show was announced by a series of statements, such as “Humanity and vulnerability open new doors.” A collection with futuristic elements, maxi accessories, metal circles and voluminous shapes.
Deconstructed jumpsuits, down jackets and suits with big buckles and gears, futuristic glasses, big bracelets and helmet-shaped hats. Naomi Campbell, friend and collaborator of Virgil Abloh, presented two looks on the runway; a long black dress and a black leather bomber jacket outfit reinterpreted as evening-wear. “There could have been only one Virgil”, Ibrahim Kamara told Vogue. “He was constantly innovating and looking beyond, so he left us a brand that can reinvent itself, grow and stand the test of time. I feel a great responsibility to him and to all those who worked, loved, worn and believed in Off-White. This collection marks the beginning of a new path: I have found myself and my point of view in a universe that corresponds to me.”
The colors of the show ranged from black to space blue, with a series of dégradé suits in shades of yellow, green and orange. Very nice looks in shades of orange mixed with the total black looks in the opening. My favorite outfit is the one in matching orange, consisting of long blazer-coat and pants paired with boots in a sort of harmonious overlap.
4) SAINT LAURENT: once again Saint Laurent confirmed itself as the epitome of sensuality and sophistication. Following the Spring/Summer 2023 collection (which I reviewed in this article on the website), Anthony Vaccarello continued with the power dressing trend, focusing once again on T-shaped silhouettes and giant shoulders. A determined and strong-willed woman in pure Reagan ’80s style, with a sophisticated elegance that we got to see through flashy jewelry, suits with padded shoulders and stiletto heels. After all, it was Yves Saint Laurent himself who first designed the tuxedo for women! The color palette consisted of black, gray and blue with touches of white and red. Red that was also seen in some beautiful tartan pieces. Vaccarello admitted that he was inspired by iconic movie characters of the era, such as Melanie Griffith’s in Working Girl. This was evident in the blazers with giant shoulder pads (I emphasize this because they really were huge!) and miniskirts cut just above the knee. The skirts were sometimes replaced by cashmere leggings and cigarette pants or worn with sheer tights, incredibly low-cut tops and chiffon blouses with long trailing neckties behind the shoulders, touching the floor. The accessories were mainly leather gloves and the ever-present dark sunglasses. Backstage the designer explained, “I worked on an idea of extreme, pure elegance, rooted in the 1980s and 1990s of Yves, the period in which I knew him from watching TV as a child. […] It’s just beautiful clothes and the desire to dress well. [Women] dress for themselves, whether it’s a tartan jacket or a see-through top: they have nothing to prove.” The setting contributed to the intimate and elegant atmosphere, thanks in part to the chandeliers from the Intercontinental Hotel, where Yves Saint Laurent would showcase his collections. I really love every outfit in this collection and my favorite is the gray suit (of which there was also a red tartan version) featuring a leather blazer with a giant scarf draped over the shoulders and secured by large metal rings. It was undoubtedly power dressing at its best.
5) VICTORIA BECKHAM: this was the second time that Victoria Beckham unveiled her collection during Paris Fashion Week, and after her successful debut last September I was very curious as to what we were going to see this time around. The invitation to the fashion show showed a portrait of Drew Barrymore as little Edie in the Grey Gardens movie. The show was in fact inspired by Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s cousin and aunt, Edith Bouvier Beale and Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale, whose story is told both in the movie and the documentary of the same name. Victoria Beckham stated: “With this collection I really wanted to celebrate the art of dressing and how clothes are truly transformative. Cult classic movie Grey Gardens was just one familiar source of inspiration, and the way it has been interpreted in the collection is very considered. The result is an eclectic, elegant and sophisticated character, as seen through a modern VB lens.” In reprising the silhouettes and cuts from last season, the designer reinforced her brand identity and presented a collection that was all about class, elegant outfits with a modern flavor and elements from the past to which eccentric details were added, as in the case of the feathers on the dresses under the trench coats. Beautiful maxi blazers and the iconic chain pouch bags for a collection that instantly became synonymous with chic. Although showcasing her work at a fashion week full of prominent names put a lot of pressure on her, Victoria Beckham has found her space and does not disappoint precisely because she follows her specific identity and natural instincts as a designer, creating the garments that appeal to her most. My favorite among the outfits shown is this black pant-boot paired with dark turtleneck sweater and complete with a maxi bag.
6) ELIE SAAB: I have always loved Elie Saab. I started following the designer’s collections when I was following the fashion blog Kayture more than a decade ago. I was still in high school at the time and found the creations worn by Kristina Bazan, the blogger behind Kayture, incredibly beautiful. Elie Saab has always been a lover of flowers, and for FW 2023 he chose to make flowers the stars of his collection. A collection consisting not only of the beautiful long gowns for which the Lebanese designer is most famous, but also of pants, designed for a modern woman, as seen in the violet suits with black profiles and the series of jumpsuits ideal for both day and evening, where he played with transparencies in an excellent way. He drew much inspiration from 15th-century art, and flowers were everywhere in this collection; sewn, embroidered and printed on dresses or pinned on the neck of other dresses, used as bouquets around the necks of models wearing gowns that leave their shoulders bare. The outfits shown by Elie Saab on the runway were definitely varied, both in patterns and colors; long burgundy dresses, more relaxed suits in creamy white, more elaborate gowns in green and lime. This color was sometimes mixed with black, as well as red, also present in some solid-colored outfits. Elie Saab did not give up the lace and embroidery for which he is famous; beautiful black gowns with multicolored flowers, printed on the gowns that opened the show and embroidered on those that closed it. I think all the outfits showcased by the designer on the runway were wonderful, and in this case it is hard to choose a favorite look (I think this was the hardest choice since I started reviewing looks from fashion week editions). However, I have a particular fondness for one of the looks that closed the runway show, a long black strapless dress carpeted in floral embroidery, the transparent effect of which allows a glimpse of the legs, making the outfit elegant and sensual.
7) ALEXANDER MCQUEEN: Naomi Campbell opened the show of the FW 2023 collection designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen wearing a black jumpsuit with a corset-cut bustier; black was the star color on the runway, with total black strapless tailored dresses and black suits mixed with white shirts. In this collection, titled “Anatomy,” the masculine and feminine were merged together and the idea of fashion understood as creativity without any discrimination was conveyed, focusing on sartorial excellence. The designer explained backstage, “It was looking at anatomy, the anatomy of tailoring. Almost back to the beginnings of McQueen on Savile Row. […] It’s like how you begin with a garment – you have to know that there’s a way to construct it, the bones of it, before you can dissect it and subvert it.” In this collection the various elements were broken down and the classic principles of tailoring were subverted, with bustiers worn by men instead of vests and jackets becoming dresses for women, to be worn both day and evening. The pants were perfectly cut and featured the innovation of the heel, being renamed “heeled trousers”. The evening gowns were masterpieces of workmanship, in bright shades of red, with beading and embroidery or mixing different materials such as leather and satin. Leather was also used for some beautiful trench coat designs that were very wide but tight at the waist. For this collection Sarah Burton was referencing different things; from the movie Tar to the soundtrack from McQueen’s couture past (especially from the fall 1998 “Joan of Arc” collection). She also studied Leonardo Da Vinci’s anatomical drawings in order to create a collection that is an homage to the days when she worked with Alexander McQueen but firmly set in the present, defying rules and conventions with great creativity. I love the orchid element in this collection, as seen in this wonderful black corset-cut evening dress with the orchid print in red on the front.
The images in this post link to the Vogue Runway website, where you will find all PFW Fall 2023 collections.
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