The Standout Collections From Paris Fashion Week

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Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2023
Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2023Courtesy of Balenciaga

From Jonathan Anderson’s surreal meditation on the anthurium flower at Loewe to Demna’s vast, apocalyptic mudpit at Balenciaga; these are the standout Spring/Summer 2023 collections from Paris Fashion Week


Vaquera are revitalising the often staid New York fashion scene with their tongue-in-cheek, outsider mentality. Shown in Dover Street Market Paris’ 35-37 space – Vaquera is backed by DSM – models (including former Dazed editor-in-chief Isabella Burley) hurtled down the runway to an ear-splitting soundtrack in looks that riffed on sailors, the American flag, and bridalwear. The press notes were cryptic, but seemed to get at the heart of designers Patric DiCaprio and Bryn Taubensee’s soul-searching, ragged brand of glamour: “stressed and confused to be an American” and “a group of people leaving burning man / break down in the desert and are killing time at a bar with the locals.”

Kiko Kostadinov

For their Paris Fashion Week debut, identical twin sisters Laura and Deanna Fanning – creative directors of Kiko Kostadinov womenswear – drew their inspiration from The Lady and the Unicorn; a series of six ancient, Flemish tapestries held within the Musée de Cluny in Paris. Characteristically colourful, the collection honed in on legs in particular, with vibrant panelled tights paired with lace-up pumps that carved up the lower limb like a string-bound pork loin – in a deliciously subversive way, of course.


Much to the horror of journalists, Demna – creative director of Balenciaga – decided that, beginning with this season, he would no longer explain the meaning behind his collections. “I hate boxes and I hate labels and I hate being labelled and placed in a box,” wrote the Georgian designer bluntly in his press notes. 

Following on from his spectacular snowstorm Autumn/Winter 2022 show, this season, Balenciaga went for another extreme; an apocalyptic mud pit dreamed up by Spanish artist Santiago Sierra. Kanye West opened the show in a security jacket, leather trousers and a mouthguard, while models in baggy hoodies, baby carriers (bearing baby dolls) and party dresses traipsed through the vast space, soiling their shoes. Was fashion’s obsession with cleanliness and perfection over – was this perhaps how people wearing designer clothing actually looked while walking over the muddy plains of Glastonbury? Despite his promise to hold back on meaning, Demna couldn’t resist: “the set of this show is a metaphor for digging for truth and being down to earth. Let us let everyone be anyone and make love not war.”

Miu Miu

“This is not an easy moment to create fashion,” said Miuccia Prada of her Spring/Summer 2023 Miu Miu show. “For this collection, I wanted to explore the purpose of fashion, its reason. Its usefulness in society and in culture today.” To the sounds of an ethereal poem by read by artist Shuang Li – spliced with a jungle track – models including Miranda July, Emily Ratajkowski and FKA twigs appeared in barely-there miniskirts and stonewash blazers, all in muted autumnal colours. Miu Miu’s reputation as the adolescent, less serious counterpart to Prada seems to be slowly dissolving – gone are the glitter and sparkles; it’s difficult to imagine a teenager wearing this.


At Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri put on an awe-inspiring spectacle for the French house’s Spring/Summer 2023 womenswear show. To the thumping noises of Björk’s new single Atopos, models walked around a Baroque-inspired, labyrinthine cardboard cave (created by French artist Eva Jospin) in a series of looks inspired by Catherine de Medici, an Italian noblewoman who later became the Queen of France in 1547. This was a collection about women and power, or women in power – and the way in which clothes can channel a sense of authority.

Noir Kei Ninomiya

Japanese designer Kei Ninomiya – a former pattern-maker for Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garçons, now commonly referred to as her protégé – only began showing at Paris Fashion Week in 2019 under the Comme design unit, but his show this season was nothing short of spectacular. One viral look – a feat of fashion-as-sculpture – featured tufts of white fluff protruding from the body like a rippling cloud, while some rather sexy, harnessed boots made in collaboration with Hunter peeped out from underneath. In the press notes, the designer said the collection was about mystic forces, and the feelings we have as a child when we encounter something strange – you get a similar feeling watching this show, too.


The first clue to the theme of Pierpaolo Piccioli’s latest show for Valentino was its invite – a small, shiny black box. The Spring/Summer 2023 show, titled Unboxing, explored the idea of unpacking preconceptions, laying them out to examine, then rebuilding them anew. Following their previous collection for Autumn/Winter 2022, which came in only two hues – black, and a shade of pink specifically developed in collaboration with Pantone – S/S23 welcomed saturated block tones in romantic oversized jackets, dazzling glittery trousers and plissè dresses, offset by nude bodysuiting and luxe black tailoring. “I think this work is obsession,” Piccioli told Alexander Fury in the latest issue of AnOther Magazine. “I’m very, very obsessive with everything. With every single detail, the rhythm, everything.”

Comme des Garçons

Aside from a few floral looks at the end, Comme des Garçons’s Spring/Summer 2023 show was mostly monochromatic; was this a comment on the lack of nuance in today’s politics – how issues are only ever viewed through ‘black and white’, polarising terms? The collection was “a lamentation for the sorrow in the world today / and a feeling of wanting to stand together,” wrote Rei Kawakubo in her press notes. True to the Japanese designer’s ‘anti-fashion’ ethos, sculptural pieces went far beyond the confines of wearable clothes; models were enveloped by hunking hoods, ruffled helmets, and overlong sleeves that drooped to the ground.


Staged in the rain at the Jardin des Plantes, creative director Matthew M Williams latest collection for Givenchy examined the city wardrobes of dressing for the 21st century. Now styled by purveyor of Parisian-chic Carine Roitfeld, William’s latest collection had an energetic casualness and lightness, that reinterpreted classic workwear pieces like denim jeans, bomber jackets and trench-coats, and fed them through the lens of Givenchy’s now-signature urban style. “In creating the collection, I wanted each silhouette to embody the exchange between traditionally French and American ways of dressing in the urban environment,” said Williams. “It’s a study of the elements we associate with ‘Parisian chic’ and ‘Californian cool’, and how those contrasts have integrated in the digital borderless world.” 


“GmbH is a project of unlearning, as we work towards decolonising our minds,” wrote designer duo Benjamin A Huseby and Serhat Isik in their show notes. “In this process we are reclaiming a kind of personal spirituality, within the complexities between freedom and morality.” Titled Ghazal (which translates as ’a love poem set to music’), GmbH’s new collection explored the beauty of South Asian culture – and arrives at a time when Pakistan is experiencing catastrophic flooding, displacing millions and wiping out a huge portion of the world’s cotton production. The clothes welcomed gender fluidity, with male models donning flowing silk skirts, short shorts – which were occasionally matched with tailored jackets and formal ties. Pieces came printed in Arabic calligraphy, translating to ‘safe from harm’, ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’. The result is one of optimism in the face of disaster, and a celebration of a culture undergoing turbulence in an ongoing fight against a fragmented world.


In a primarily black-and-white palette, with brief jaunts into pastel pinks and mint, Virgine Viard presented her enduring vision of a pure, elegant Chanel, true to the groundwork set by Coco Chanel in 1910. Drawing inspiration from Alain Resnais’ Last Year in Marienbad (1961) – an enigmatic film where time and space is fluid, and for which Coco Chanel designed the costumes for the film’s lead Delphine Seyrig – Inez and Vinoodh shot a haunting film featuring Chanel muse Kristin Stewart for the show’s opening, made in homage to Resnais’ masterpiece. The collection was unmistakably Chanel; tweed jackets, feather-light silk blouses and floor-length gowns were paired with luxe leather bags and gilded necklaces. The result? This was the historic French brand at its best and most aspirational.

Louis Vuitton

At Louis Vuitton’s latest show, oft-overlooked, minor details were magnified to epic proportions. Locks, clasps, zippers and buttons – integral to the DNA of the French label with their production of luxury leather goods – were scaled up and celebrated by creative director Nicolas Ghesquière in a quest to examine the codes of femininity. With hyperbole at the heart of the collection, Ghesquière invited artist Philippe Parreno as the guest designer for the show’s scenography, who created a red “monster-flower” at the venue’s centre. Embodying a French, maximilist chic, Ghesquière observed the motifs of Louis Vuitton and presented the details of its craftsmanship in a way that’s impossible to miss.


Jonathan Anderson’s subversive method of design was on display yet again at his latest show for Loewe. Abstracting the simple idea of the anthurium flower, the motif didn’t echo through the collection in expected ways – not in prints on floral dresses, nor appendages on necklaces. Rather, the flower transfigured into large molded bodies, suggestive bra cups and life-size details on mules, while models circled a gigantic fibreglass anthurium in the venue’s centre. Despite its mega-proportions, the collection felt clean: sharp stripes on shrunken dresses were offset against bright whites, and bar the large panniers on the hips, the strapless velvet dresses were uncomplicated. Elsewhere pixelated, “glitched” looks, and meticulously draped silk dresses made sense in their simplistic surreality.

Rick Owens

Staged once more at the monumental Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Rick Owens showed his 45-piece Spring/Summer 2023 collection, which borrowed its title from his previous men’s show – Edfu – named after the Egyptian temple on the west bank of the Nile. In the show notes, Owens spoke of his time spent in the country, comforted by its “remoteness” and the “scale of its history.” His last show was apocalyptic – with giant flaming globes suspended by cranes – but this show seemed more optimistic, with models walking through a mist surrounding the courtyard’s fountain. The collection also drew inspiration from the  actress Theda Bara, known for her portrayal of Cleopatra in 1917.

Saint Laurent

The enveloping “sheath” worn by the late American dancer Martha Graham for her 1930 piece Lamentation was the starting point for Anthony Vaccarello’s Spring/Summer 2023 Saint Laurent show – which was held amongst the fountains of the Trocadero at nightfall, and backdropped by the luminous Eiffel Tower. Graham’s influence of fashion – specifically Yves Saint Laurent’s hooded ‘capuche’ pieces from the mid-1980s – was evident throughout the collection, with hooded dresses and crossbody tops that transformed a casual sartorial item into a late-night, opulent staple.