paris fashion week roared into high gear on Wednesday with the atmosphere and excitement for Balmain’s spectacular evening fashion and music festival: a star-studded benefit concert featuring the latest fashions, audience members and performances. That included a final walk from none other than Cher.
Here are some highlights from the spring-summer 2023 shows.
CHER AND BAL-MANIA
Olivier Rousteing proved that he is one of the world’s greatest fashion showmen, organizing, once again, not a show but a festival for Balmain that took place in a giant stadium. Of course, the biggest celebrity moment of Paris Fashion Week had to be capped off here: when the designer walked out on the end of Cher’s arm. The 76-year-old Oscar winner stepped onto the stage all smiles, to whoops from the crowd, in a heathered spandex suit, plunging neckline, platform wedges and the house’s famous peaked shoulders. “Had the best time on stage, felt great,” he tweeted shortly after.
Balmain said it was celebrating the best of food, music and fashion within the stall-packed village of West Paris’s Stade Jean-Bouin, more accustomed to hosting rugby matches than spandex suits. Some 10,000 tickets were made available to the general public provided they made a charitable donation.
DON’T FORGET THAT BALMAIN WAS A FASHION SHOW
Amid the hubbub, some guests could be forgiven for forgetting that the point of the event was the clothes. The looks, which fused prêt-à-porter with haute couture, had some memorable moments, the result of Balmain’s design teams searching for organic materials in the forest.
A unique bustier was created from the bark of chestnut trees, while basketry styles were created from materials from swamps and meadows, all softened in water for an ethnic look.
But this show was also an emotional and cultural exploration for Rousteing himself, someone who has spoken out about his adoption and recently discovered that his birth parents were from the Horn of Africa.
“At all times, the influence of Africa is, of course, quite easy to spot,” said the designer. “(The discovery) only served to intensify my lifelong fascination with the beauty, traditions and designs of that region.”
SANDS OF COURREGES
For Courreges, a circular sand track featured a column of falling sand at its center evoking the sands of time, or the movie “Dune”. The eccentric and slightly disconcerting musical cadences in the soundtrack gave the show a clean and reduced spirit.
Courreges has become a brand that promotes a characteristic mood over a characteristic style, and designer Nicolas Di Felice likes to inject atmosphere into his fashion.
Spring-summer fashion began with a fresh white shirt game, with a voluminous shirt dress that carried the simple and sporty vibe well. Models sometimes had bare feet or bare shoes. Di Felice used the runway to bring fashion spins—snipaways, toggles, shiny space materials, and deconstruction—on everyday items like a jean jacket, jean skirt, or flared pants. A sports vest, for example, was given a kinky twist with its see-through materials.
It’s an approach that works well with this generation-defining brand, founded in 1961 by André Courrèges and his wife Coqueline, who became synonymous with space-age aesthetics.
THE ART OF THE INVITATION
The age of email and growing environmental awareness don’t seem to have left much of a mark on the fashion industry’s antiquated invitation system.
Season after season, gas-guzzling couriers criss-cross Paris personally delivering ever more elaborate, often handmade, invitations.
The best houses compete for the most extravagant or imaginative idea which often hints at the theme of the catwalk collection.
For Loewe’s invitation, a bright red tropical flower arrived through the mail that the floral dictionary identified as an anthurium. To keep the flower alive during Fashion Week, the bottom of the flower stem was attached to a state-of-the-art moisture capsule.
Meanwhile, Saint Laurent’s invitation was a sleek black patent leather clutch with a metallic “YSL” on top, with the business card hidden inside.
LOOSE THE NUT ON THE VAN
The Belgian fashion maestro was back in shape for spring with a typically unrivaled collection that only seemed to be tied together by the aesthetic of its looseness.
Fashion-forward ensembles in all-black—an oversized men’s tuxedo worn over the bare chest or an Asian double-breasted coat—suddenly blossomed into the 64-look collection in shimmering sequins, pastels, then ruffles and florals.
There was a lot of artistic work: a black lace-like top had ribbing that was reminiscent of ribbing, all the while looking very Elizabethan. The female models were intentionally chosen for their boyish looks, along with a myriad of masculine twists to the women’s wardrobe.
The only recurring theme seemed to be softness: the supple layers of fabric, the draped tassels that caressed the warehouse floor, and the generous proportions in billowing sleeves, skirts, and pants.
This was Van Noten, an original, having fun.
UNDERCOVER CUTS IT
It was classy with a hint of Jun Takahashi’s Undercover branding.
The streetwear-infused Japanese designer went wild this season, taking off the shoulder on an oversized bright yellow tuxedo, cutting rips on a sleek white shirt, or cutting the sleeves, pants and suit lapel on a sophisticated double-breasted jacket.
As in previous seasons, Japanese anime felt present. Here, there was a cartoonish vibe to the double hairstyles of several of the models.
Bold T-shirts with “Love” and “Dream” cut out on them added to the cheering vibe.