Au Revoir! Paris Fashion Week wrapped up this week but not before the controversy over whether designers saw fashion shows as an opportunity to stage theatrical spectacles, while others chose to focus on craftsmanship and the clothing itself. In a recent UoF social media post, we asked our followers what they thought and it came as no surprise that all but one commented that the art & craft wins over hype. With over 500 UoF lessons on ‘how-to’ create fashion, our social media followers and subscribers have a mature respect for how clothes are created and the skill, technique and talent involved in doing so, which is why ‘we’ (the collective we) loved to see Balenciaga and Saint Laurent strip back the theatrics to focus on craftsmanship. Not that we don’t love a bit of whimsy, techno fashion and sustainability thrown in, but for us purists, we like to know that someone cares about the craft.
Paris Fashion Week Fall 2023 was the longest running Fashion Week out of all the cities. The 8-day extravaganza (shows began on Monday, February 27th to Tuesday, March 7) was yet another fashion viral sensation with everyone’s social media feeds blowing up.
A look from Comme des Garçons’ Fall 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Before we dive into Paris’ most viral moments, let’s take a look back at Paris Fashion Week, one of the most important events in the fashion industry. And, of all the global fashion weeks, has the longest and richest history that spans over a century:
- The first Paris Fashion Week took place in 1910 and was organized by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne, the governing body for the French fashion industry. At that time the event was known as the “Fashion Show” and held in the salons of the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
- The event grew in popularity over the years and in the 1950s it became known as the “Paris Collections.” During this time, it was the only fashion event in the world that featured the latest collections of the most prestigious fashion houses.
- In the 1970s, the event underwent a major transformation when ready-to-wear collections were added to the lineup. This brought a new audience to the event and helped to democratize fashion.
- Since then, Paris Fashion Week has continued to evolve and adapt to changing times. It now showcases both haute couture and ready-to-wear collections, and has expanded to include menswear and accessories. The event is now held twice a year and it attracts thousands of visitors from around the world.
- In February 2020, when the pandemic hit, Chinese buyers and journalists were unable to attend due to travel restrictions. However, the event continued as planned, however, later that year fashion brands got creative. Some presented their collections digitally, through films or lookbooks, held shows without audiences or to a limited audience and some shows were held outdoors.
- Because the French and the fashion show are synonymous, it didn’t take long before live Paris shows were back. In 2022, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Off-White, Stella McCartney, Miu Miu, Chloe, Givenchy, Valentino, Balmain, Vivienne Westwood and The Row were among the 45 houses set to host in-person runway shows.
Today, Paris Fashion Week is back to pre-pandemic levels with a full-on schedule, packed venues, and street style stars peacocking throughout the streets of Paris. Paris Fashion Week is considered one of the most important events in the fashion industry and it continues to set the standard for creativity and innovation in design. Yes, fashion is all about being noticed, we get it, and and stand-out moments in a designer’s shows gets them lots of social media buzz. But, hey designers, remember those of us who value craftsmanship and who actually buy and wear your clothes. It’s what keeps you in business!
VIRAL MOMENTS DURING PARIS FASHION WEEK
For the past few seasons, Maria Grazia Chiuri looked to various forms of art for inspiration. In her Fall 2023 Dior Collection, Chiuri enlisted Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos to create a larger-than-life fabric installation that served as a contrasting backdrop to her sober collection.
The camellia is the signature flower at Chanel, and this season, creative director Virginie Viard focused on the flower literally, in prints, embroideries and as a massive sculpture at the start of the runway.
Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood’s Fall 2023 collection was a tribute to the great Dame. Westwood’s widower and collaborator, Kronthaler, paid tribute to the late designer by recreating some of Westwood’s signature looks: Crinoline skirts, corsets, towering platforms, buckles, chokers, vintage fabrics, and plenty of plaids. The result, a beautiful love letter to the woman who shook up the fashion world.
Imagine having a dress that can change colors. Using a moving UV light, Anrealage’s Fall 2023 collection transformed from basic to breathtaking, revealing vibrant colors and patterns hidden under plain white looks.
Acne Studios transported its runway into a fantastical forest, as the brands creative director Jonny Johansson showcased form-fitting dresses with crocheted flowers sprouting from the fabric and a patchwork of leaf cutouts. “I’ve always enjoyed the contrast between urban life and nature, the idea that an infinite forest is just around the corner,” explained Johansson on Instagram.
Balenciaga’s Fall 2023 show was Demna Gvasalia’s return to the runway after the fallout that followed a series of controversial campaigns involving children. Gvasalia revealed that the new direction of Balenciaga isn’t one that will rely on shock and spectacle, but rather one that goes back to Balenciaga’s roots – craftsmanship above everything else.
Stella McCartney took fashion insiders to the rodeo. The designer has been at the forefront of vegan alternatives to animal materials, and so it was in a Paris horse stable that Stella made her latest political statement about the place of animals in the fashion industry.
No pants required at Miu Miu. Miuccia Prada sent out jeweled encrusted briefs that stole the show. Start getting those legs in shape everyone!
Twenty-six year old Harris Reed debuted his highly anticipated Nina Ricci collection to rave reviews. The collection was dramatic and included oversized hats, bows and silhouettes in an assortment that was clearly made for the Red Carpet.
Speaking of oversized, working 9-5 never looked so chic as Saint Laurent’s creative director ,Anthony Vaccarello, looked to the Eighties for inspiration through the viewpoint of the glitzy, dolled-up corporate women of the decade. Think Sigourney Weaver and Melanie Griffith in Working Girl.
But the real pièce de résistance came with Vaccarello’s ability deliver a playful element to this otherwise serious collection.
Always pushing the boundaries between fashion as art and fashion as performance art (who can forget when Coperni employed technicians to spray a fabric dress onto Bella Hadid for its spring 2023 back in September 2022?). This season designers Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant explored the relationship between fashion and technology through a theatrical show involving Spot robots from the American company Boston Dynamics.
So tell us, do you think designers should focus on great clothes and leave all the gimmicks behind?