If Milan Fashion Week was Gossip Girl’s Serena van der Woodsen oozing It Girl elegance in crystal-adorned party dresses, and London was Blair Waldorf with her clean-cut Queen Bee confidence, Paris would be Jenny Humphrey: the rebellious teen sister that swapped preppy tweed twin sets for punk ripped leather and smudged black eyeliner.
But cult 2010s teen drama aside, the city’s eminent designers collectively lunged for grunge this season. From Chanel’s homage to K-stew-cool (that’s Kristen Stewart for the uninitiated) to Balenciaga having models dredge through a catwalk made of mud, Paris welcomed a new era of edge.
It started at Dior. Gothic glamour prevailed at Maria Grazia-Chiuri’s breathtaking show, inspired by French Queen Catherine de’ Medici, who was credited with introducing corsets, platform shoes and Italian lace to the French court. Dior’s collection featured those historic accoutrements in abundance. Alas, it wasn’t beads and brocade that were paired with hoop skirt silhouettes, instead ruched bomber jackets and fishnet boots took their place in a crossover of 16th century ostentation and modern streetwear.
Anthony Vaccarello called for a slicker, sexier take on grunge-gone-glam for his Saint Laurent show. More bad*ss than bad-attitude, Vaccarello’s signature shapes upped their ante with exaggerated shoulders, oversized leather jackets and skin-tight bodysuits, imbuing a Grace Jones club kid allure through a palette of moody yet refined hues.
The next day, Hermès invited its guests to a ‘sand rave’ for the SS23 show. Hosted at the Tennis Club de Paris, Creative Director Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski erected an entire sand dune to set the tone for her latest line. Alongside the drama of the dystopian surrounding, Vanhee Cybulski presented an effortlessly cool collection in burnt oranges and dusky beiges. Forget ready-to-wear, this was ready-to-rave (in luxury silks and suedes, naturally).
Not one to shy away from subversive luxury at its very core, Balenciaga’s Demna quite literally sent his models through piles of wet, slippery mud. But the show’s domineering setting played only a mere part of Demna’s apocalyptic vision. Bleach stained hoodies, ripped jeans and tactical jackets called for an eerie take on what to covet in the Carolean Age. And don’t forget the stuffed toy snake scarves.
Chanel’s Virginie Viard looked to the Nouvelle Vague film movement of the mid-20th century for inspiration, filming none other than Kristen Stewart to compliment the show. K-Stew’s androgynous elegance and impossibly cool je ne sais quoi were visited many times throughout the line from effortlessly glamorous tailoring to crop tops and mini skirts, all with an enviable punk-turned-pretty panache.
Miu Miu’s rebirth since SS22 that launched that ultra-mini skirt to stratospheric must-have status has seen the House turn from cute-core to hardcore. This season, Miuccia Prada’s models, including FKA Twigs, presented a coterie of acid wash denim, distressed leather and raw edges. Today’s Miu Miu girl is rough, tough and ready to rule the world.
Designed in correspondence with French artist Philippe Parreno who created a daunting, large-scale installation for the show, Nicolas Ghesquière played heavily with proportion for Louis Vuitton’s SS23 collection. Breaking restraints from the conventional, Ghesquière created oversized zips, belt buckle prints and larger-than-life hardware for his line of artwear. ‘The idea was to look at something pretty, something sweet, and to see in those elements what strength they have,’ said Ghesquière in a statement, describing his latest work as ‘pretty tough’ and ‘threatening beauty’. Now, if that’s not punk-rock, I don’t know what is.