At Paris Fashion Week, fashion shows are an art

Fashion is not an art, but she likes artists capable of densifying or embellishing her message. We saw it again during this spring-summer 2023 fashion week, which took place from September 26 to October 4, in Paris.

In the tunnel of the one hundred and five fashion shows, Balenciaga’s always manages to stand out, and the scenery has something to do with it. For the autumn-winter 2022-2023 season, when the war had just broken out in Ukraine, the artistic director Demna [Gvasalia, qui se fait appeler par son prénom] I had imagined a transparent carousel in which the models faced a snowstorm, evoking the fate of displaced populations. On this occasion, she asked the artist Santiago Sierra – known for the radical nature of his often controversial works – to create a giant 275 cubic meter mud pit at the Villepinte fairgrounds.

On the humus steamers, male and female models dragged their leggings through the sleet, the “podium” standing out from the rest of the decor by its particularly soggy side. Some of them had facial injuries (including Kanye West, who opened the show), others had piercings and pointed spikes on their heads, some of the babies (in very realistic plastic) in baby carriers propped up on their stomachs.

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The wardrobe showed the same division, with hoodies that looked like they were covered in (fake) grime, baggy moth-eaten jeans, patched-up joggers; as a counterpoint, dresses with cape backs of balenciaguesque purity, ivory covers with sequins; but also sculpted sweaters that give strange shapes to bodies. Nerds, stars, punks, Mr. and They’re all in the same boat, drowning their luxury effects in the mud, because ruined pieces are particularly complex to produce and require more effort than “normal,” Demna explains.

Should we see a reflection on fashion, on luxury or on the state of the world? Demna assures that it is a metaphor for her state of mind today, at 41 years old. “I dig into myself for the truth, for who I am as a designer. » Being unable to provide answers, Demna is credited with asking the right questions.

The giant hourglass of Courrèges

In a lighter genre, Stella McCartney staged her show on the esplanade of the Center Pompidou, with stripes of primary colors displayed on the cobblestones, reminiscent of Renzo Piano’s architecture, as a podium. The collection is called “Changing History”slogan taken from the Japanese painter Yoshitomo Nara, with whom the designer collaborated for this collection. “We are aligned in our approach to the world in harmony with nature and animals, and we seek to deliver a message in our work”explains who is happy to have managed this season to work with 87% eco-responsible fabrics, the highest level it has ever reached.

Stella McCartney.

The cartoon characters, both cute and grumpy, that made Yoshitomo Nara famous are printed on fitted T-shirts or knitted into knitted dresses. They bring a touch of fantasy to a simple and sexy wardrobe: this jumpsuit is definitely the big trend of the season. Baggy suits, low-waisted pants, bias-cut grenadine or lemon dresses evoke the Stella McCartney archives, sometimes even from the time she was designing for Chloé. “Since changing history is the theme of this show, I wanted to dive back into my own, think about who I am today and where I’m taking my brand. »

The passage of time is also at the center of Nicolas di Felice’s statements. The designer from Courrèges turned to visual artist Théo Mercier to design, at the Landy studios in Saint-Denis, a giant hourglass around which the models gravitate. “The hourglass expresses my daily concerns, which are to take over a house with such a beautiful heritage and make it dialogue with the future to better reflect on the present”, he explains. While borrowing the form of a zip dress from 1974 or a diving suit from 1981 from the archives, Nicolas di Felice is experimenting with new technologies with 3D printing, silicone molding, 3D embroidery… The wardrobe manages to be at the time very wearable and unique, with beautiful navy blue jumpsuits, flattering high cut dresses.

Chanel, this year in Marienbad

Chanel also mixes past and present, drawing inspiration from the cinema. On the one hand, the artistic director Virginie Viard trusts the film Last year in Marienbad (1961), directed by Alain Resnais, for which Gabrielle Chanel designed Delphine Seyrig’s dresses. On the other, she feeds off her closeness to 30-year-old actress Kristen Stewart, the brand’s muse for almost ten years, whose career ranges from blockbusters to independent film. « Kristin She is the person who reminds me the most of Gabrielle Chanel. (…) She also has a New Wave side that I really like. I can imagine her very well in an Agnès Varda film”says Virginie Viard.


The chanelesque fusion between the 1960s and the present takes place on the walls of the ephemeral Grand Palais where, as an introduction to the show, a black and white short film showing Kristen Stewart strolling through the Latin Quarter is screened, followed by images of Delphine Seyrig in Marienbad. Once the aesthetic framework has been established, it’s showtime time! Virginie Viard, who “he likes it when things mix”, offers a varied wardrobe, made up of bows, boas, rhinestone ankle boots, sweaters worked like scales, sequined jackets and tweeds in pastel colours. There’s sharp black and white tailoring, metallic pink versions to shimmer in the summer sun. But also some remarkably effective little black dresses, all with light veils that hint at flesh, a see-through shirt worn with a feather-embellished skirt, a crinkled velvet gold gown with a side slit that flows over the bodice. The fluidity of the dresses, the lightness of the fabrics dominate this collection, which measures opulence with precision.

Miu miu.

“I always wanted Miu Miu to open up to other worlds, through collaborations with artists,” says Miuccia Prada. The lucky winner this season is Shuang Li, who wanted to represent the underwater infrastructures that make our instant communications via the Internet possible at the Palais d’Iéna. Visually, the result is quite conceptual, with large winding tubes serving as seating for guests and giant screens showing images of showers of shooting stars or moving wind turbines, but it’s beautiful to look at.

Also read: Paris Fashion Week or the praise of sensuality

“It’s not an easy time to create fashion, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create. You just have to make sure that each garment has a purpose, now is not the time to be superficial”, still assures Miuccia Prada. Therefore, she imagined a functional wardrobe, where the pocket is omnipresent. In a square and puffy version, she accentuates leather jackets or decorates shorts; the flat version of her brand Nylon windbreaker; hybrid belt-belts with double pockets encircle her waist.

Fashion also has a decorative duty, we find some very pretty silhouettes made with cotton, silk and cashmere fabrics stacked on top of each other, the lamination of the fabrics creates color games and does not completely cover the body. A few 2000s-flavored details – the shorts so short they reveal the buttocks, the logo briefs that stick out from the pants – should give this streamlined collection the virality it deserves.

Vuitton is used to thinking big. This season, the brand sees them on a grand scale and has installed in the Cour Carrée du Louvre a “monstrous flower” 50 meters in diameter bristling with petals in red canvas and whose heart is connected by catwalks to a plexiglass pergola equipped with chandeliers. . and moving mirrors. This incredible installation is signed by Philippe Parreno. “We have known each other for a long time and wanted to work together”explains artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière.

Louis Vuitton.

The giant flower gives “a dangerous, almost carnivorous idea of ​​beauty”that can be found in the collection, where the designer wanted to play with “the beautiful, the clichés of femininity often conveyed by the male gaze”, and reworked pleated skirts, apron dresses, baskets of crinoline dresses. In his hands, these garments are unrecognizable: kind of soft donuts grow on the neck of a dress whose fabric undulates around a circular cord; Leather knots hang from the bustier of a patchwork dress closed by a hand-sized zipper. Because that’s the other key idea of ​​the show: playing with proportions.

The press studs on a jacket are the size of an apple, the bags become travel bags, the embroideries reproduce zoomed tweed threads… The loss of direction continues with the work of trompe l’oeil, like these dresses in lacquered bubblegum and perforated patterns with belts and zippers. The collection can be very cerebral, but it can be seen with pleasure in its playful decoration: a sign that the fusion between art and craft has taken hold.

Also read: Paris Fashion Week is carried away by a wind of optimism

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