Paris Haute Couture Week SS23: The must-see moments from the most fabulous week in fashion

Posted On By admin

Unless you threw your phone in the Thames on Monday, and haven’t had a conversation with another human since, you probably know that this week was Haute Couture Week. The week when a collection of elite designers (who must meet stringent requirements to qualify, including creating bespoke pieces for private clients; operating an atelier employing at least 15 staff; and committing to show two collections a year of no less than 50 designs) flaunt their most rarefied pieces to a front row of celebrity royalty.

The 2023 edition kicked off with some good, old-fashioned controversy, as Schiaparelli sent models down the runway with (fake) animal heads affixed to their garments. The week also gave us upside-down gowns and umbrella hats; legacy looks and couture debuts; misty-eyed throwbacks and bold strides into the future. We loved (almost) every second of it.

If you missed any of the shows, fear not. We’ve compiled a list of our favourite looks of the week – the most haute of the couture, if you will. Take notes – you’ll more than likely see some of them again on red carpets over the next couple of months.


Dior’s SS23 collection was inspired by Josephine Baker – the entertainer, French Resistance member and civil-rights activist who was also a close friend of Christian Dior. The pieces were restrained and ladylike, with more than a whiff of the Roaring Twenties in the appearance of fringed dresses and kiss curls. Cabaret also played a part – think satin leotards under diaphanous robes. Indeed, a lingerie-inspired bodysuit paired with layered pearls opened the collection, followed by a plethora of pintucked palazzo pants and pleated A-line cuts; evening wear consisted of brocade coats, beaded gowns and draped dresses. The set is also worth a mention – visual artist Mickalene Thomas created 13 giant artworks for the occasion, dedicated to inspirational Black and mixed-race women including Nina Simone, Dorothy Dandridge and Baker herself.

Armani Privé

Armani’s couture line, Armani Privé, came out with a collection inspired by the harlequin. The theme was borne out via Pierrot ruffs, cropped jackets and billowing trousers, as well as, of course, the diamond motif set to become ubiquitous this season. Silk, tulle and crystal-work was rendered in a spectrum of sorbet shades, contrasting with blocks of black in an aesthetic meant to evoke the “Rococo interiors of Venetian palazzos”. The more perceptive among you may make the connection between the Venetian commedia dell’arte (the historical theatre where harlequins were popularised) and Armani’s unofficial role as outfitter of actors on the red carpet. Perhaps the designer was subtly reinforcing his role as sartorial star of the arts – or maybe that’s a stretch.

Giambattista Valli

Giambattisa Valli delivered a dose of escapism in his SS23 show – creating a feeling of dolce vita with nothing more than a few yards of candyfloss pink, cornflower blue and sorbet orange fabric. The palette was inspired by a Beverly Hills sunset, while the pieces themselves flirted with 1940s costumery – the cinematic garb of Vivien Leigh, Joan Crawford and Ava Gardner. There were reams of gathered silk and smothering layers of tulle. Hems were balloon-like and occasionally fastened with giant rosette bows. Embellishments such as feathers, florals and brocade reigned supreme. It was delicious.


If there’s one thing we expect from Schiaparelli, it’s drama, and Daniel Roseberry delivered this with a collection inspired by Dante’s Inferno. The world raised its collective eyebrows as Irina Shayk walked the runway in a velvet column dress adorned, corsage-like, by a realistic-looking lion’s head (front row spectator Kylie Jenner wore a matching one). Shalom Harlow donned the snow leopard, and Naomi Campbell got a wolf. A few baulked at the outfits, claiming they glorified trophy hunting – which seems excessive. Designers are shock agents and Couture Week is a space reserved for the most unique. Plus, animals have long been represented in fashion – even before Björk wore a stuffed swan to the Oscars. Roseberry did a fantastic job of pumping life back into Elsa Schiaparelli’s outré aesthetic.


This collection was born at Coco Chanel’s Rue Cambon apartment in Paris, where creative director Virginie Viard visited in the lead-up to the show. The entrance was once flanked by marble lions, guarding carved wooden deer and a golden frog which took pride of place on the coffee table. The property’s abundant artwork depicted stags, birds and camels. Yep, this was another fauna-inspired collection, but if Schiaparelli’s was a noisy parade to the animal kingdom, then Chanel’s was a quiet nod. Surrounded by a set of plywood creatures designed by French artist Xavier Veilhan, embroidered pieces made their way down the runway: floor-length dresses, brocade gowns, trumpet-sleeve twin sets, pin-tucked blouses, and, of course, tweed suits.


As Chanel is content to bask in its heritage, Pierpaolo Piccioli is driven, almost at a cellular level, to do something new. The Valentino SS23 show took place at night, in a club under the Pont Alexandre. Piccioli’s inspiration were 1980s joints like Studio 54 and Leigh Bowery’s Taboo; the designer wanted to capture the underground scenes that dismantled gender conventions – to bring them out from behind closed doors and onto one of the most prestigious runways in the world. These subcultures were represented with vivid colour (Valentino’s now-signature Pink PP naturally featured) and gender-bending elements. Piccioli also paid homage to Valentino Garavani’s classic couture with a gown whose giant ruffles frothed up around the face – only the observant would notice that the model’s torso was bare underneath, giving the look a decidedly 2023 spin.

Stephane Rolland

This show’s finale dress was so good that we’re going to start there: a glistening cloqué tent, draped like liquid gold over the model – she looked like a goddess statue, and it was certainly worship-worthy. Indeed, this look was inspired by Brazil’s patron saint, Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida, presented as though “drenched in the conquistadors’ gold”, as Rolland wrote in the show notes. And no, you’re not imagining the Ancient Greek-inspired vibe – the designer also took cues from Marcel Camus’s Orfeu Negro, a 1960 adaptation of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, set in a favela in Rio de Janeiro. The whole show oozed splendour – from the coffee crepe dresses to the golden lamé capes.

Elie Saab

Elie Saab has played with royal influences for several seasons, and this week that took us to Thailand. There were sash-fronted coverings and intricate headdresses, all in shades of oyster, oat and sand (with a bit of pastel creeping in). The one-shouldered Chut Thai, the national dress as designated by Queen Sirikit in 1964, was reimagined in ever-more fantastical ways. Minimalism doesn’t exist in Saab’s universe, and each piece was groaning at the seams with appliqués and embellishments. Crystals were lavished on heart-shaped bodices and sinuous trains. The menswear, too, was resplendent – Saab sent men down the runway as a “one off”, but the designer has a faithful male clientele.

Alexandre Vauthier

Faux fur? In a spring/summer collection? Yes indeed. By way of explanation, Vauthier pointed out that, when it comes to travel, it’s no longer all about the French or Italian Riviera. HNWs are going north to escape the crowds and try something new. Thus began a hunt for the plushest faux fur that money can buy, which Vauthier coloured acid green and hot pink, just for fun. “We’re living at a crossroads which makes for anxious times, so with this collection I wanted to really play and show something very strong, with radical colours,” he said. And the jazzy palette was just the start: models donned micro-minis, second-skin pants and dramatically-puffed skirts. Sequins abounded, poured liberally onto thigh-high boots and a particular hooded jumpsuit reminiscent of Grace Jones. Vauthier embraced his signature full-on, unapologetic glamour, and thank God he did.

Now read: The most dazzling high-jewellery collections of 2023

The post Paris Haute Couture Week SS23: The must-see moments from the most fabulous week in fashion appeared first on Luxury London.

Lascia un commento