This week in Paris, fashion houses are introducing their Spring/Summer 2023 Haute Couture collections. Here, we’re sharing the most memorable details of the debuts presented by names like Chanel, Schiaparelli, Elie Saab, and more.
Gabrielle Chanel’s Parisian apartment—a place filled with objects, sculptures, and drawings of animalia—was the starting point for Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2023 Haute Couture presentation, which saw Artistic Director Virginie Viard working in collaboration with the artist Xavier Veilhan for the runway show. Populating the vast space at the Grand Palais Éphémère, was a village of monumental wooden animal sculptures by Veilhan (reminding us of hand-carved toys sometimes found in a childhood nursery), through which models made their way out of hidden doors, dawning the season’s elegant debuts. Charming motifs like rabbits, swallows, kittens, corgis, and deer upheld the fauna theme across the designs, joining the maison’s emblematic camellia flower as embroidery on tweed suiting, beading on gowns, and printed onto delicate sheer fabrications. Women’s parade uniforms and that of majorettes lent details that were seen throughout, including on button-up dresses styled with bowties, intricate gowns with top hats, and the house’s tweed suiting (updated with details like flounces at the hips or playful animal graphics), which was often styled with white lace-up boots with black toe tips.
The avant-garde gaze of Schiaparelli inspired awe once again with its Spring/Summer 2023 couture collection “Inferno,” which mused on Dante’s writings of the same name and the allegory of doubt that it creates. While the thought process and inspirations behind the debuts were undoubtedly fascinating, we found that you needed little more than sight to become entranced by the intricate silhouettes that walked the runway. We saw sculptural shapes that could have been chiseled from stone, textural garments made from thousands of molded leather metal sequins, delicate mother-of-pearl inlays, and even hyper-realistic faux taxidermy creations, which were crafted by hand from manmade materials. Looks we’re still thinking about include the coat sported by Naomi Campbell, which saw a beady-eyed wolf head protruding from its glossy black tresses; a brass skirt that wrapped the hips like liquid, paired with a sculptural bodice that looked like a shell, extending above the neckline and floating in front of the wearer’s face; and a black and white mini dress worn by Adut Akesh, featuring a smooth, structured overlay with a golden keyhole at the waist, and a pleated skirt underneath.
Alexandre Vauthier’s debuts imbued a glamorous, bombshell attitude for the Spring/Summer 2023 season, embodied through statement shoulders juxtaposing tapered waistlines, voluminous faux fur pieces, sparkles, ruffles, and vibrant pops of neon. Kicking off the show was a suite of designs in all black that included chic suiting, studded leather, dresses with cut-outs, and all-over sequined pieces (like a hooded jumpsuit with matching boots). Next, neon hues were introduced—first subtly, as footwear, or peeking out under the hem of a dress, ending with a series of monochrome mini silhouettes—like a tutu-shaped skirt in highlighter orange and a neon green number hooded with a large, fluffy coat. Other highlights included a silver metallic one-shouldered shape constructed from sharp pieces of reflective matter, a suite of fur overcoats in neon hues, and a fitted dress with twists and cut-outs that saw sheer black material gathered as an overlay on green sequins.
Elie Saab channeled visions of opulence, abundance, bliss, and ceremonious celebrations in its collection, “A Golden Dawn.” The scenography and rituals of Thailand served as inspiration for these Spring/Summer 2023 designs, selecting a soft palette of nature-inspired tones to paint details like crystal lotus flowers and ornate motifs of dragons, koi fish, and organza blooms. For men, the collection included a small series of styles with a noble allure, like suiting featuring long overcoats, capes, and robes in the most pristine embroidery. The majority of the collection took the form of dresses—from column shapes to miniatures, to ballgowns—with silhouettes that softly outlined the shape of the wearer. The breathtaking gowns were embellished with all-over detailing, including appliques that floated around the shoulders like wings, large silken bows that tied at the neck and cascaded down the back, gathered fabric that formed flowers, and intricate beading and embroidery.
The latest from Jean Paul Gaultier was imagined in a collaborative effort by the designer’s peer Haider Ackermann, exemplifying the idea that “Couture is what remains when everything else has been forgotten.” The garments were sharp and sleek, typically imagined in a solid color or two, leaving the silhouette’s memorable details to do the talking. Though we noticed the collection refrained from making multiple iterations of the same style, we did see the recurrence of shapes that cinched a perfect hourglass figure, looks that remixed tuxedos and suiting, and a few shapes that were less about the wearer’s body and more about the garment itself—like a purple silk wool dress with an encompassing silhouette. Standout ensembles included a pair of crisp sky-blue sailor’s trousers with a sculptural top that resembled a sea urchin; an all-white body suit and hooded cloak textured in feathers; and a black gown that featured a structured faille bomber jacket with a hood and ruffled front and a fitted crepe jersey skirt that ended with a subtle puddling train.
“Cosmos” was a fitting title for the latest collection by Rahul Mishra, considering the infinite nature of outer space in relation to our existence and ability to perceive it. With each piece handmade in India—Mishra is also the first Indian designer to show a collection at Paris Haute Couture Week—the collection detailed cosmic entities, galactic landscapes, and even the seascape of the sunken city of Atlantis, translating them into wearable forms. Feathers, beading, glistening golden embellishments, delicate fringes, and twinkling sequins abounded, each piece taking on its own life as a work of art as much as a garment to wear. We saw shapes more typical of clothing design, like gowns with capes, body suits, and pants with detailed bra tops, but the collection also included angelic pieces that reminded viewers of the entities being explored—like the closing look, which covered the model’s body like a tent, detailed with beaded tendrils and embroidery reminiscent of a jellyfish. Other highlight pieces included a magnificent feathered dress in shades of gold featuring broad shoulders reminding us of wings, a dress in black with statement puffed sleeves and a universe of embroidery covering its surfaces, and a strapless dress crafted from waves of blue sequined ruffles paired with a whimsical crown of little golden fish.