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A lesson from Paris Fashion Week: adventurous dressing

From Chanel to Saint Laurent and Off-White, the spring-summer 23 collections at the recently concluded fashion week were all about elegance and giving classics a twist

From the Hermes ready-to-wear Spring/Summer 2023 fashion collection presented in Paris on 1 October (AP)

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Reflecting a mood of exuberance and adventurous dressing, designers at the recently concluded Paris Fashion Week stayed true to their brand's heritage while lending the house classics a contemporary spin.

Virginie Viard at Chanel had the iconic Nouvelle Vague classic, L'année Dernière à Marienbad (1961), on her moodboard, which saw some of Coco's costumes lending gravitas to its protagonist, essayed by Delphine Seyrig. Drawing from this seminal cinematic piece, Viard proposed a closet of feathered tweeds, cardigan jackets and coat dresses. 

Finishing off these looks with white camellias, crystal booties, shine-on ankle socks and gilded necklaces, this outing was a bridge between the house's hallowed past and its present, sublimated with the spirit of easy chic.

Also read: What's trending in fashion? Barbiecore, bodycon dresses

From the Chanel show on 4 October.
From the Chanel show on 4 October. (AFP)

Talking about the past, both Dior and Balmain had the decadent Renaissance period on their mind. At Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri referenced Catherine de Medici, an Italian nobility who became the queen of France. Showcasing fit- and flare-shaped ensembles realised in raffia lace, and a refreshing take on the New Look skirts, which came embroidered and patchworked, Maria stayed true to her narrative of exploring tough femininity and initiating a cultural dialogue between craft and heritage, savoir-faire and symbolism. Balmain, too, couldn't resist the allure of Renaissance prints, which were played out on sculptural pieces realised with pleating, ruching and cutting techniques. The overarching memo at Paris was: respect for heritage without compromising on the current wave of hedonistic dressing.

Here are some of the key trends that emerged during the week.

Feather frenzy

Plumes, a key signia of Chanel's core design vocabulary, couldn't be overlooked in its spring-summer 2023 outing. Ostrich feathers artfully embroidered on tweed suits and romantic, floaty capes were a strong throwback to Coco's work in cinema, a time when her pieces empowered characters with sartorial drama and finesse. There were plenty of feathers at Valentino too, seen on a menswear shirt, a slip inspired gown and as accents on an LBD and a trouser suit.

From the Valentino show on 2 October.
From the Valentino show on 2 October. (AFP)

The Givenchy show, styled by the acclaimed fashion editor Carine Roitfeld, featured a white floor-length white dress that had feather accents towards the hem.

Pleating and ruching

From Chanel's tiered and beaded LBDs to Saint Laurent's sensual gowns, pleating and ruching emerged as key techniques skimming the silhouette and flattering the body.

From the Saint Laurent show on 27 September
From the Saint Laurent show on 27 September (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

Dries Van Noten sent out an array of asymmetrical pleated skirts with ruffled hems, evoking romance and also a hint of punk. Givenchy's opening look, a classic LBD, was a throwback to one of the founder's archival looks and came fully ruched and pleated with zipper accents on sleeves.

Cutouts galore

From Acne Studios show on 28 September 
From Acne Studios show on 28 September  (AFP)

Beach chic and scuba glam was the vibe at Courrèges, with ensembles slashed across the midriff. A white dress had a diagonal cut across the bust and a floor length LBD came with a slash detailing flashing generous amounts of skin. Acne Studios, which showcased slip dresses against the backdrop of a sleepover soiree (show area styled prettily with cutesy pink mattresses), had major cutouts seen on liquid-like slips. Gauchere, Off white, Alessandra Rich and Valentino shows featured ripped details too. This resurgence to soft grunge can perhaps be attributed to the overarching body positivity movement prevalent in fashion.

Hoodie gets haute

After Milan, hoodies were back in full force at Paris as well. From Saint Laurent to Givenchy and Balenciaga, each house reinterpreted them in their own way.

From the Off-White show on 29 September
From the Off-White show on 29 September (AFP)

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