Sep 29, 2023
As Paris Fashion Week progresses, femininity gradually emerges in its thousand and one facets. This week, designers have presented both broad-shouldered superwomen and much more relaxed, more casual ladies, keen on the kind of fashion they can enjoy every day. This contrast was illustrated on Thursday by two collections: at Rick Owens, women were shown as majestic icons, while Isabel Marant presented her version of the insouciantly sexy Parisian girl.
Perched on platform sandals, and clad in overlong, sombre dresses and sheath skirts, so tight they hampered their gait, the models stepped down the majestic marble staircase of the Palais de Tokyo, enveloped in a haze of pink, then neon yellow mist. These creatures, who seemed to have arrived from another planet, struggled to stifle their anguish. Their faces were cached behind black veils which, on closer inspection, looked like a fencer’s mesh mask or a bee-keeper’s hat. The tone was set for Rick Owens’s spectacular show.
Concerned about the planet’s ills, and irremediably pessimistic, the US designer has heralded his feelings through an extremely powerful Spring/Summer 2024 collection, in which he did try to inject hope with some bright-red total looks. “I still believe in love,” echoed Diana Ross on the show’s soundtrack, while a shower of multi-coloured petals poured on these widow-like creatures as they descended the marble steps.
The models walked with their heads held high, with great dignity. The silhouettes were imposing, almost sculptural. Swathed in long tunics, their faces hidden behind a veil, some models could be mistaken for desert Bedouin. Hands slipped into opulent elbow-length leather gloves, some of them wore high-waisted leather or denim trousers, matched with cropped biker jackets with ultra-wide shoulders. Ample leather gilets, again with pointed shoulders projecting outward and upward, made some models look like American football players.
A jacket’s lapels extended dramatically skyward. Many garments were cinched at the waist, while the upper body assumed plenty of volume. For example, in the case of huge tops made of tulle and wrapped with layers of ribbons, or some cocooning silk organza dresses. Lightweight dresses and hooded capes in the thinnest silk seemed to float up as the models walked.
The tone was entirely different at Isabel Marant, which brought the day to a close with a flourish at the Palais-Royal, attracting a sizeable crowd at Place Colette. In a one-off change, the eponymous designer swapped the huge marquee that usually hosts her shows for an outdoor runway on the square’s sandy ground. It was the ideal setting for a truly summery collection, in which young women in sandals and wooden wedge clogs were happy to don skimpy garments.
Their backs bare, some wore swimsuits with deep side-slits, slipped hastily under micro-shorts or cargo trousers. Others bared their midriff, wearing only a bra paired with pleated trousers, or cheekily left one shoulder exposed in their tiny asymmetric outfits, while the cut-outs in slinky or draped dresses revealed the skin beneath.
Everything was lightweight and fluid, like the summer dresses with Art Deco prints and the mini dresses in old lace trimmed with fine pearls, as well as the topcoats and trousers in parachute canvas, so light they merely brushed the skin. “This season, I wanted a much more poetic collection, feminine, airy and lightweight. I wanted a certain kind of simplicity. But Isabel Marant women will always be powerful,” Marant said backstage.
“We reinterpreted our codes, creating something totally contemporary. The idea was to have an easy-to-wear wardrobe expressing femininity in a different fashion,” she concluded. The collection was completed by denim mechanic-style jumpsuits, leather items and new-look t-shirts.
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