Paris Haute Couture Week 2023 was the elite level of fashion. The bespoke garments are handcrafted by highly skilled artisans and denote style, class, and money.
The Federation de la Haute Couture didn’t give any directive on how to respond to such extraordinary circumstances. As such, there wasn’t a collective decision within the industry on how to proceed appropriately. Brands showed their collections as planned and barely acknowledged the protests.
All about the Paris Haute Couture Week 2023
The shows went ahead despite being at odds with what was happening outside of the couture bubble. Cardi B was spotted at several shows including Schiaparelli in a custom black velvet dress worn with a dramatic black coat and a pair of gold ear-shaped earrings. She was also seen at Thom Browne, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Fendi, and Gaurav Gupta where she arrived almost an hour late dazzling the crowd in a scintillating lime green dress and oversized puffer hood and sat beside Chinese star Fan Bingbing.
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Diane Keaton was at Thom Browne looking like a modern-day Annie Hall in the brand’s three-piece suit, tie, and straw hat. Valentino’s front row featured Florence Pugh in a sheer lilac gown, Donatella Versace, Nicole Ari Parker, and Jeremy O. Harris. Spotted reveling at Chanel were Lupita Nyonog’o in the brand’s purple tweed shorts set and Kendrick Lamar in Chanel tweed and denim. Actresses Laura Dern, Emma Thompson, and Kate Hudson lead the fashion pack at Armani Prive, and songstress Shakira wore a statement trench coat with the word “NO” across the chest at Viktor & Rolf, who celebrated its 30th anniversary.
Thom Browne debuts couture
The most anticipated show of the season was Thom Browe’s couture debut. The American designer’s distinct point of view fuses Americana with high romance, a bit of camp, and a whole lot of precise, intricate tailoring.
“He’s so specific with his vision. You feel like you’ve stepped into this world and Thom is one of those people who gets excited about an idea and sees nothing else apart from it,” said Eugene Souleiman, the hairstylist who created gravity-defying wigs for Browne’s show.
Souleiman put the wigs on slightly off-kilter so they look like they’re about to fall off to give it that Thom Browne twist.
Yves Klein Blue makes a comeback
Daniel Roseberry paid tribute to artists including Salvatore Dali at the Schiaparelli show.
“I think more than any other house, we have a natural birthright to connect fashion with art and it felt like the first step in making that connection,” Roseberry said of the collection backstage.
Klein’s signature hue is “the Photoshop inversion of Schiaparelli Gold” Roseberry explained. It’s the opposite end of the color spectrum to the brand’s signature gold embroidery. “So, the vibration of color is really important but I wanted there to be a sense of freedom and ease too.”
The rich tone was also seen at Valentino in abstract motifs over a long white dress with matching blue shoes, as well as in a beautifully draped gown, slouchy overcoat, and relaxed trousers.
Elsewhere, Alexandre Vauthier’s runway was carpeted in the recognizable color and one of Iris Van Herpen’s “Oceanix” dresses featured a graphic polygon pattern that faded from navy to Klein blue.
Simplicity in silhouettes
While couture conjures up escapism and fantasy, this season was more grounded in realism, with paired-down silhouettes and flatter shoes.
Vaultier’s collection was a return to elegance with his iteration of the tuxedo featuring meticulous, sharp tailoring featuring narrow silhouettes with wide lapels. The lines were clean, almost severe but the collection was balanced with more fluid volumes and silhouettes that were feminine and unfussy.
In Kim Jones’ fall 2023, line-up for Fendi, the English designer sent down a series of featherweight gowns, featuring pleated column dresses, Grecian draping, and Obi-inspired belts that accentuated the waist. Turtleneck dresses were either cut high on the thigh or floor-sweeping while fluid asymmetric dresses featured trains that felt understated and modern.
Pierpaolo Piccioli subverted that tradition and sent every model out wearing flat slingbacks with oversized bows while Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri featured flat, sheer mesh lace-up boots and sandals with a gladiator vibe. Different heights of Mary Janes dominated Chanel.
A win for age inclusivity
Chanel’s show opened with the brand’s 48-year-old ambassador Caroline de Maigret in a black ankle-grazing black double-breasted tweed coat with crystal-encrusted buttons.
French supermodel and designer Ines de la Fressange was greeted with thunderous applause when she stepped onto the runway in an all-black ensemble at Charles de Vilmorin’s debut couture show. The 65-year-old icon also walked the Balenciaga runway in a structured gray suit alongside models Amber Valetta and Eva Herzigova who are 49 and 50 respectively, actress Isabelle Huppert age 70, and Danielle Slavik, Cristobal Balenciaga’s former house model in the 1960s, who opened the show wearing a replica of a dress he first designed in 1966.
Valentino’s cinematic fairy tale
The show began with Kaia Gerber wearing a white shirt and jeans hand-embroidered with thousands of microbeads dyed in 80 shades of indigo to resemble denim.
Models walked out from the majestic castle, down a dramatic staircase, and around the central fountain so Piccioli’s collection could be seen from all angles. Dresses, coats, and capes were voluminous yet light. Tunics and dresses were cut on the bias and gently caressed the body while sleek silhouettes were juxtaposed with opulent embellishments including feathers and gemstones.
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