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Dries Van Noten FW23

PFW FW23: Saint Laurent, Balmain, Acne Studios, and More

As we speak, brands are in Paris for the presentation of their Fall/Winter 2023 collections. Below, you’ll find details on the designs being debuted by Saint Laurent, Balmain, Acne Studios, Courrèges, Dries Van Noten, and Roisin Pierce.

Saint Laurent FW23

Courtesy of Saint Laurent.

Saint Laurent and Creative Director Anthony Vaccarello applied the maison’s visual trademark—long, lean, and chic bombshell silhouettes often accompanied by a pair of stylish shades and stilettos—to the familiar form of the skirt suit (or tailleur-jupe) for the Fall/Winter 2023 season. Reconceived for the present moment, the employment of precision, emotion, and reticence included iterations of this avenue of tailoring, updated with severe, enlarged shoulders, plays on transparency and opaqueness, and the feminization of things often associated with the menswear oeuvre. Moving away from the nearly all-black palette we’ve seen in recent collections, Vaccarello chose the additions of materializations like red tartan, camel-hued leather, white silk, and tweed. Accompanying many imaginings of the season’s key silhouette—an enlarged blazer and a fitted pencil skirt—were gauzy dresses with diaphanous, sheer tops, leather tanks with skirts or trousers, and fluid, wrapping elements like throws, stoles, hanging additions to outerwear, and dresses with extra drapery.

Balmain FW23

Courtesy of Balmain.

Suggesting that the clothing has plenty to say for itself, Balmain summarized its fall/winter 2023 designs in four key ideas: prioritizing the essentials, finding one’s direction through a celebration of one’s heritage, the belief that timeless garments must still be reconceived to fit the present moment, and the importance of precise tailoring and construction. These key ideas converged at a place in design that is nostalgic, sharp, and also seemingly fresh. Every look in the collection appeared fit for an occasion and featured something special, from more understated ensembles (like ankle-grazing pants and a soft mohair sweater) to the most opulent of gowns. Recurring design elements and motifs included sharp, oversized pleated details in opposing colors, off-the-shoulder wraps reminiscent of 1980s and 1990s styles, enormous silken bows at the neckline or shoulders, exaggerated sweetheart necklines, webbings of pearl beading, and shapes that were fitted at the waist and flared at the hips.

Acne Studios FW23

Courtesy of Acne Studios.

Acne Studios invoked imagery of forest sprites, fairy dust, magical natural settings, and a certain kind of mysticism that didn’t betray the current moment in fashion. As enchanting as the collection itself, the show space was composed of sparkling trees and configurations of strange vines and roots that came alive to a performance from the avant-garde electronic composer Sarahsson. Activating this whimsical space were designs that were inspired by the darkness of wintertime in Sweden and the juxtaposing settings of nature and city that often converge in its geography. There were delicate dresses of crinkled georgette, flora-mimicking lace that appeared to grow on the body, pieces with fluttery sleeves and ruched details, and garments made of fur and patchworks with holes and jagged hemlines, suggesting they had become tattered through wear. There were outerwear shapes in earthy fabrics with high-fashion silhouettes (like a distressed trench with a cowlneck overlay), pieces detailed with eyelets and lacing, and footwear that featured upturned toes or vines for ties that encircled the legs.

Courreges FW23

Courtesy of Courreges.

Offering its audience a ceremony of light and enlightenment, the fall/winter 2023 runway show of Courrèges featured a presentation space designed by the artist Rémy Brière, working in collaboration with Matière Noire. Held in the transformed library of the Sorbonne, the show began with models emerging from a cloud of fog in a central point surrounded by arena-style seating, their faces illuminated by the light of phones in their hands. The statement, “Through the dark, through the smoke and mirrors, I see you” represented the display that unfolded—garments in mostly black and white, which played with revealing and encompassing forms like entirely sheer tops with leather sleeves, ultra-cropped blouses, pieces with covered fronts and open backs, and cocooning outerwear with rounded shoulders that presented the option for the wearer’s arms to fit through sleeves or through slits in the front. Memorable pieces in the collection included a coat tailored with a sheer hood in gray waffle-textured fabric, a sheer dress with a hole for the bellybutton, styled with matching pants, peep-toe shoes, and a miniature purse, and a suite of designs with large reflective discs worn as pendants on necklaces and centered on the torso, viewable through cutouts in designs.

Dries Van Noten FW23

Courtesy of Dries Van Noten.

Dries Van Noten’s debuts brought to mind words like tender, decorative, and precious. Modernized silhouettes like knits with comfortably-cut pants and dresses with soft shapes and fluttering details were imagined in warm tones and florals and featured special details hidden for the wearer, like silk linings and reversible designs. Notes from historic dress and artisanship were taken and redefined through the maison’s particular eye, including gold embroidery suggesting corsetry, hand-painted prints, and lace made from historic French mills. Delicate fabrications stood beside more sturdy ones, comprising layered looks that were at once beautiful and practical for colder weather—like a long sheer dress and a quilted collared coat with a furry scarf, a pinstriped blazer seen over a handkerchief skirt with tall leather boots, and a patchwork knit paired with a silk button-up dress left open to reveal velvet trousers.

Roisin Pierce FW23

Courtesy of Roisin Pierce.

Entitled “Beware, Beware,” Roisin Pierce’s fall/winter 2023 collection embarked on an exploration of Sylvia Plath’s poem Lady Lazarus which discusses the fear that is invoked by a self-assured woman with purpose. Visually, it was a dreamy collection of all white, featuring airy pieces employing the epitome of effeminate dress through the ages—smocking, floral embroidery, puffed sleeves, floating fabrications, dotted lace, veils, and bows. However, the words of Plath and other women writers like Edna O’Brien that underscore these designs tell tales of censorship, a fight for freedom, and the need for fierce political movements that historically accompany the biographies of intelligent, ambitious women. Giving us the impression that true liberation lies within the process of embracing the stories of the women silenced before us, were looks like a zip-up blouse with a pattern of intricate smocking and excess fabric, styled with knee-length bloomers and white bow-topped heels, a dress featuring gathered sections, knotted fabric with an underlayer of puffed flowery lace sleeves, and a sheer smock-like shirt with a chainmail of crocheted flowers that was styled with a pair of pantalettes featuring suggestions of hoopskirts in a textured floral material.

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THE SPRING ARTIST ISSUE
2023

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Poetic set designs underpinned the fall/winter 2024 collections by Saint Laurent, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Chanel, and more.
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