Paris Fashion Week: Dior triumphs melding women's past and future, while Saint Laurent puts on study in power dressing
Here are some highlights of spring-summer 2024 ready-to-wear shows in Paris, including Saint Laurent’s starry study in power dressing
During the Paris Fashion Week, Dior’s show Tuesday set in the Tuileries gardens witnessed a dazzling circus of stars. With Hollywood’s recent writers’ strike still on, insiders mused if Paris Fashion Week would be the season’s celebrity magnet – and the presence of Jennifer Lawrence, Charlize Theron, Elizabeth Debicki, and Kim Jisoo seemed to echo that sentiment.
But the real star this season was the collection itself. Never one to shy away from a statement on feminism, the Italian couturier Maria Grazia Chiuri crafted an unusually subtle collection in predominantly black and white that fused echoes of the medieval and contemporary. Set against an art backdrop challenging time-worn perceptions on women's roles, this show was not only a reminder that fashion is a mirror of society – but among her most accomplished so far.
Here are some highlights of spring-summer 2024 ready-to-wear in Paris Fashion Week, including Saint Laurent’s starry study in power dressing
Dior’s juxtaposition of eras
The atmosphere was charged with palpable anticipation. But even more electric was Chiuri’s dance between the medieval and the 80s punk – the former, an era of chivalry and legends, the latter, an age of defiant self-expression.
The first looks to grace the runway were what might be called “gamine gothic.” The garments, draped in a play of black with cascading tassels, bore dynamic clumps of silk that crafted a silhouette both historic and undeniably fresh. But fashion, much like history, is cyclical, and soon this dark romanticism gave way to stark white interpretations. The result? A nod to the rebellious 80s, evoking memories of punk rockers and their spirited defiance.
But Chiuri didn’t stop at mere clothing. The accessories — from contemporary neck chokers to sometimes-bejewelled leg bands that one might associate with armour — added layers of intrigue. And just when insiders thought that they’d seen the collection’s pièce de resistance, Chiuri surprised with an audacious take: a medieval-inspired bikini in stark black.
While the designs borrowed elements from historical eras, they also encapsulated the spirit and journey of the contemporary woman. The ash and chamomile tones, paired with the evocative use of fabrics, served as metaphors for strength, defiance, and progression.
One gown, with its black medieval lace motif adorning the bust, bore an uncanny resemblance to the head of a charging bull, symbolizing, perhaps, the undying spirit and tenacity of the women Chiuri designs for. While the couturier’s previous efforts to infuse designs with feminist commentary have sometimes seemed forced, this season finally towed the line between message and subtlety.
Dior's feminist foray: Chiuri’s runway shines in Tuileries gardens
Chiuri is steadily gaining renown as perhaps the most politically engaged designer heading up a European fashion powerhouse. In an industry fixated on fleeting aesthetics, Chiuri’s emphasis on deep-rooted feminist activism sets her apart. Tuesday’s show stands as testimony to this.
Chiuri often fuses art with fashion through collaborations with avant-garde artists. Tuesday saw the dynamic Elena Bellantoni taking centre stage. Together, the duo unveiled a monumental video installation at the Tuileries Gardens, turning the annexe into a glowing canvas of feminist fervour.
Towering 7-meter-high LED screens pulsed with vivid yellows and fuchsias, reminiscent of highlighters underscoring vital messages – and used by secretaries the world over. Iconography and cheeky slogans, notably the audacious “Your secretary knows how to do it better,” provoked thought while inciting VIPs to capture the moment.
Powerful Saint Laurent show steals the night
“It’s like a fashion shoot,” exclaimed Kate Moss, standing arm in arm with Demi Moore, as flashes lit up the scene beneath the Eiffel Tower. This star-studded Tuesday evening was not just about celebrity allure; it was a powerful testament to house founder Yves Saint Laurent’s enduring mission of empowering women.
Designer Anthony Vaccarello channelled the audacious spirit of boundary-breakers like Amelia Earhart and Adrienne Bolland, offering a collection that oozed authority and elegance.
The 70s safari-inspired ensembles, from khaki trenches to strong shoulders, reinforced this message of strength — and sometimes, aggression. Amplifying this stance was a soundtrack reminiscent of The Godfather’s. Black head caps paired with trailing 70s scarves, flashy oversized earrings, and armfuls of gold bracelets conveyed unbridled opulence.
The collection’s pieces, whether showcasing “powerful” upturned collars or dominant spike heels, were a study in power dressing. With earthy tones of olive, maroon, and sand playing out in fabrics like cotton and linen, the balance between strength and elegance was maintained throughout.
Baz Luhrmann, accompanied by his Elvis actor Austin Butler, and other luminaries watched as Vaccarello’s vision unfolded, integrating elements from the masculine that were feminine in spirit.
Peter Do’s Parisian parade: A testament to craft
When most of Paris Fashion Week revels in razzle-dazzle, one designer chose to let his clothes take the spotlight sans the spectacle. Enter Peter Do, the New York prodigy who, with his Paris debut, redefined modern minimalism and returned the focus to pure design.
A palette dominated by neutrals with unexpected bursts of lipstick red set the tone, while the clothes themselves spoke of understated luxury. Whether it was a filmy deconstructed trench coat, a ribbed turtleneck with detachable sleeves, or those impeccably tailored trousers, every piece was crafted.
It’s not just the clothes, but Do’s entire philosophy that stands out. This spirit was evident in this collection, where traditional boundaries seemed blurred and clothing, irrespective of gender labels, made a powerful statement.
And as the curtains fell at the Palais de Tokyo, the audience was sent an unusually brief but impactful message in the show notes: “This season, we want our work to speak for itself. Love, The Peter Do Team.”
Vaquera’s sartorial commentary on stardom!
Vaquera’s was a vivid portrayal of the celebrity phenomenon. The inaugural look featured a model draped in a see-through fishnet body stocking, her gaze masked by sunglasses, conjuring images of a star evading paparazzi, highlighting the allure and its invasiveness of fame.
Designers Patric DiCaprio and Bryn Taubensee, themselves ironically donning eye-shielding A-lister sunglasses, tapped into the theme of ceaseless scrutiny in an era of omnipresent cameras. Their designs were a reflection on celebrity and the fashion industry that amplifies, and at times, shields it.
Vaquera, known for challenging conventions, didn’t disappoint. A dramatically oversized white parachute shirt was paired with a surreal 4-meter striped tie. In a world where every celebrity move is amplified, the brand explored if attire could ever be too grand or statement-making. The designs further examined the notion of exposure, with pieces revealing bra straps and undergarments.