Paris Fashion Week roared into full gear Wednesday with atmospherics and palpable anticipation of Balmain’s evening fashion festival spectacular — a star-studded charity concert featuring the latest fashions, members of the public and secret celebrity performances.
Here are some highlights of spring-summer 2023 shows:
For Courreges, a circular sandy runway featured a falling column of sand at its center evoking the sands of time — or the movie “Dune.” Off-kilter and slightly unnerving musical cadences in the soundtrack endowed the show with a sanitized, pared-down spirit.
Courreges has become a brand that touts a signature mood over a signature style, and designer Nicolas Di Felice likes to inject his fashion with atmosphere.
The spring-summer fashions began with a play of the crisp white shirt, with a voluminous shirt dress carrying the simple and sporty vibe well. Models sometimes had bare feet or nude footwear.
Di Felice used the runway to bring fashion-forward twists — snipaways, toggles, sheeny space materials and deconstruction — on everyday items such as a denim jacket, denim skirt or flared pants. A sporty vest, for example, was given a kinky side with its sheer materials.
It’s an approach that works well for the generation-defining brand founded in 1961 by André Courrèges and his wife, Coqueline, that became synonymous with the Space Age aesthetic.
The art of the invitation
The age of email and rising environmental awareness doesn’t seem to have left much of a mark on the fashion industry’s antiquated system of invitations.
Season after season, gasoline-guzzling couriers crisscross Paris to personally deliver ever-more-elaborate, often handmade, show invites.
Top houses vie for the wackiest or most imaginative idea that often bears a clue as to the theme of the runway collection.
For Loewe’s invitation, a bright red tropical flower came through the post that the floral dictionary identified as an anthurium. To keep the flower alive for the duration of Fashion Week, the bottom of the bloom’s stem was attached to a state-of-the-art humidity capsule.
Saint Laurent’s invite, meanwhile, was a chic black patent leather wallet with a metallic “YSL” on top, with the show card hidden inside.
Dries Van Noten lets loose
The Belgian fashion master was back on form for spring with a typically unpindownable collection held together only, it seemed, by the aesthetic of its looseness.
All-black ensembles -- an oversized menswear tuxedo worn on a bare chest, or an Asian crossover coat -- suddenly blossomed within the 64-look-collection into bright sequins, pastels, ruffles and florals.
There were artistic plays aplenty: One lace-like black top had ribbing evoking bones, all the while looking somewhat Elizabethan. The female models were chosen for their boyish looks, alongside myriad menswear twists on the womenswear wardrobe.
The one running theme seemed to be the softness: floppy layers of fabric, draped tassels that caressed the warehouse venue floor and the generous proportions in sleeves, skirts and billowing pants.
This was Van Noten, an original, having fun.
Undercover slashes it up
It was dressy with a difference at Jun Takahashi’s brand Undercover.
The streetwear-infused Japanese designer went slashing mad this season, lobbing the shoulder off a bright yellow oversized tuxedo, putting rips in a dressy white shirt and severing suit sleeves, pants and the lapel on an otherwise sophisticated double-breasted jacket.
As in previous seasons, Japanese anime felt omnipresent. Here, there was a cartoonish vibe in the double top-knot hairstyles worn by several of the models.
Statement T-shirts with “Love” and “Dream” on them added to the animation vibe.