PARIS – After Milan, global fashion's spotlight shifted to the final stretch of ready-to-wear shows in Paris on Tuesday, as the industry looks to the future with all the final fall trends.
But displays in the French capital will also revisit the past this week, with homages to recently deceased designers Vivienne Westwood and Paco Rabanne.
Here are some highlights of Tuesday's fall-winter 2023-2024 collections, including Dior:
A surreal and colorful organic world awaited guests inside Paris' Tuileries gardens.
A spectacular Dior installation suggestive of a giant octopus spanned the length and breadth of the runway, its color-rich fabric tentacles gleaming with thousands of tiny lights. It was the work of Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos, who wanted to explore how organic form interacted with the “feminine realm of artisanal savoir-faire.” It made for a dazzling backdrop especially given the flurry of paparazzi flashes snapping guests including model Elle Macpherson, K-pop star Jisoo and actresses Maisie Williams and Charlize Theron.
If the decor seemed futuristic, designer Maria Grazia Chiuri used the past as a touchstone in the clothes, resulting in less exuberance — but no less flair.
Three women -- the house founder’s sister Catherine Dior, a French resistance hero, as well as French singers Edith Piaf and Juliette Greco, each described as “rebellious, at once strong and fragile” -- were muses in this collection. It channeled the 1950s, Christian Dior’s heyday.
A vintage air was evoked in a faded black leather menswear coat, crumpled houndstooth skirt and wrinkled woolen socks.
Elsewhere, sweaters and skirts sported extra volume in the shoulders or hips in a nod to the thicker fabrics of the post-war period. Stand out pieces included a black textured skirt hung heavily with thousands of embellished flowers that cut a fine androgynous figure below a white shirt and tie. While mottled fabric featured a gleaming metallic thread sewn into it, revealing the skills of Dior’s atelier.
Chiuri's empowering styles impressed Theron, who told The AP: “She loves women. And in loving women she understands that a woman is feminine but also masculine. We’re vulnerable and we’re strong. We’re contradictions. We’re a little bit of everything, and I love that she has that wisdom.”
SAINT LAURENT ACCENTUATES SHOULDERS
Haunting discordant organ music, wafting incense perfume and dark lighting led VIPs such as Dua Lipa, Rose and Catherine Deneuve to a bewitching black runway lit dimly by five hanging golden chandeliers.
The venue intended to evoke the Intercontinental Hotel ballroom, so said the house, where YSL presented its couture collections for decades until 2001.
Regardless of the inspiration, it was clear that drama was in the air for Anthony Vaccarello this fall -- indicating that the lauded Saint Laurent designer is in a buoyant creative mood.
This season, theatrically sculpted and elongated shoulders defined silhouettes. The jutting shoulders -- on fluid gowns, minidresses and tuxedo “tailleur-jupes” above pencil skirts -- were so big that sashes and scarves were able to literally hang off, as if on scaffolding. So big in fact that one fashion insider commented that they might have been able to sweep the walls of Paris’ famously narrow hallways.
The result was a bold, top-heavy silhouette reminiscent of the 1980s – infused with styles from the early noughties, such as big hoop earrings and pointed-toe heels.
Some looks oozed mystique such as one pearly satin top with draped hood and pointy shoulders, worn atop slim pants on a model with infinitely long legs.
Elsewhere there were plays in transparency thanks to mousseline, chiffon and crepe-de-chine fabrics alongside see-through stockings.
MAME KUROGOUCHI, PAST AND FUTURE
The Japanese ready-to-wear brand of Mame Kurogouchi delves edgily between past and present, mixing traditional dressmaking with new technologies.
This was on full display at fall’s minimalist take on the 80s — as far as a decade that exuberant can be minimalist.
A gray pantsuit with crisp clean lines had a futuristic feel with a diagonal dynamic. A black scarf that gripped the neck like a hand tugged down the shoulder, complementing a black space age fanny pack that evoked a cummerbund.
A pared down color palette created a sanitized feel that worked nicely on the 80s references — broad, flat apron silhouettes, hoods and thickly textured top-heavy ensembles.
VAQUERA GETS ITS KINK ON
“Obscene dress” read one emblazoned T-shirt at Vaquera’s rather saucy collection. Although the look was among the least kinky in a show that served up inches of flesh, studded chokers, bare torsos, shredded bondage gear and multiple takes on 90s grunge and denim jeans.
This was the sophomore showing in Paris for designers Patric DiCaprio and Bryn Taubensee, who came to prominence six years ago in New York with their iconic U.S. flag gown. After a more commercial season last year, the talented duo got back to their bold antics.
Black-heavy, the concise 12-look display began with a masked headpiece and a patch over one breast on a naked female torso. The other breast was covered by the model’s gloved hand. It would be a difficult look to wear on the street, but it got guests' cameras snapping. Next, a black cotton top constructed of myriad shreds for volume – and edge. A skirt was deconstructed in flaps to evoke a bondage outfit, worn alongside a thermal hat in a woolen take on a bondage mask.