Fashion month has come to a full stop in Paris. Among the myriad sartorial moments in the French capital, the pervading mood felt stripped back—dememe-ified, if you will—with a sharp focus on exceptionally well-made clothes over gimmicks designed with social media in mind.
Following the quiet elegance on display in Milan, Paris continued in the same vein, with brands like Rokh, Paul Smith, Saint Laurent, The Row and Alexander McQueen all delivering a masterclass in refinement imbued with an undeniable sexiness (precision-cut suiting never felt so erotic). At Courrèges, Germanier and Alexandre Vauthier there were va-va-voom moments, in the form of slinky slips and mini dresses.
Elsewhere, mega-brands like Chanel, Givenchy and Valentino brought couture-level construction to wearable pieces—think camellia-adorned sets that, on closer inspection, were glistening with spectacular 3D details, box pleated outerwear and spliced black tie-inspired separates. Miu Miu, meanwhile, showed prim ensembles with a splash of dishevelment (hair askew, absent trousers). Call it walk-of-shame chic.
An obvious discussion point was Balenciaga’s return to the runway, the first show since the brand’s scandal last November. Creative director Demna delivered a collection that stripped things back to the fundamentals of his core aesthetic. “I feel like this is the message I want to give: this is who I am,” he said. Meanwhile, Balmain swapped its stadium format for a smaller scale show, as Olivier Rousteing paid tribute to the maison’s founder, Pierre Balmain. “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,” the designer said.
Other tributes were paid at Vivienne Westwood, where Andreas Kronthaler staged an eclectic show in honor of his late wife following her death on December 29, and at Paco Rabanne, scene of creative director Julien Dossena’s glittering ode ode to the house founder, who passed away in February aged 88. Kronthaler opened the show with a headshot of Westwood emblazoned on a T-shirt, and closed it with Westwood’s granddaughter Cora Corré in a corseted bridal bodysuit. “I thought of her in everything I did,” he said backstage.
There were also several firsts in Paris: Daniel Roseberry showed his ready-to-wear collection live for the first time, and Ib Kamara presented his mainline show as Off-White’s art and image director (with none other than Naomi Campbell closing). Elsewhere, Ludovic de Saint Sernin’s inaugural Ann Demeulemeester show drew on the legendary Belgian designer’s archive, while Harris Reed’s eagerly awaited Nina Ricci debut featured a riot of color and larger-than-life silhouettes.
In spite of the subdued style mood, there were still a handful of moments that caused the now traditional stir on social media. Coperni’s Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant—pioneers when it comes to fusing tech and fashion—had five Boston Dynamics robo-dogs (all named Spot) prowling their show space and interacting with models (Lila Moss made one hold her meteorite Swipe Bag). Anrealage’s Kunihiko Morinaga displayed clothes with photochromic hardware technology that transformed the colors and prints of faux fur, velvet and knits. Louis Vuitton’s collection focused on a modern interpretation of the “French-girl wardrobe”, but featured neon illuminated shades inspired by Phantom of the Opera that added a futuristic touch.
Surrealism reigned at Loewe’s trompe l’oeil-heavy show (“classicism meeting something which is new”), as well as in the off-kilter silhouettes at Sacai, Comme des Garçons, Noir Kei Ninomiya, Kiko Kostadinov and Victoria Beckham (Beckham’s Grey Gardens-inspired collection featured trimmings of acrylic hair extensions, inspired by the artist Solange Pessoa).
The LVMH Prize gave the spotlight to semi-finalists Louis Shengtao Chen, Raul Lopez of Luar, Paolina Russo, Juntae Kim and Aaron Esh (among others). An array of emerging designers had their deserved moment in Paris, as well, including Hodakova, Niccolò Pasqualetti, Heliot Emil, Ester Manas, Róisín Pierce and Caroline Hu, to name a few. Although conscious fashion was not front and centre this season, Cecilie Bahnsen worked with the LVMH-backed resale platform Nona Source for its fabrics, while Stella McCartney delivered meticulously crafted bags made from Mirum and apple leather.
Zendaya at Louis Vuitton, Emily Ratajkowski at Loewe, Avril Lavigne at Courrèges, Cheng Yi at Lanvin and Guan Xiaotong at Valentino were just a few of the A-list celebrities that made appearances in Paris (the Blackpink girls, too!). And to top it off? Tommy Cash attended the Y/Project show dressed in a literal duvet and pillow set (not dissimilar to Tilda Swinton’s iconic Viktor & Rolf couture look from autumn/winter 2003)—perhaps a physical embodiment of how all show attendees feel after a long-drawn-out month of fashion. That’s a wrap, for now. Until next season!
This article was originally published on British Vogue.