Notes on the Paris Fashion Week 2023

An air of restoration, not evolution

The Paris Fashion Week 2023 showed precise, constructed tailoring and well-defined silhouettes. Perhaps brands aimed to provide a tangible sense of quality to reclaim their meaning. Or re-establish a higher positioning in an overproduction industry that left people baffled and unable to understand the difference between luxury to low brands.

Of course, if you were not interested in the star parade, avoiding the tedious crawling before, during and after the shows seemed impossible. Now, that is the goal. Unfortunately, no chance to talk about clothes, just clothes, without necessarily talking about the faces.

Paris fashion Week 23: some highlights

All about silhouettes and dark atmosphere at Dior and Saint Laurent: I line at Dior – very vintage. The 80s-inspired triangle shape with big hyper-constructed shoulders at Saint Laurent.
Balmain: sculptural designs with bows and pearls everywhere.
Chloé: less poor nomadic, still bohemian but more refined. Such a great inspiration, the painter Artemisia Gentileschi! The medieval theme has resulted in wearable clothes – more for real life than for Instagram. Here, we want to underline what the designer, Gabriela Hearst, said: “I like it that nothing is gimmicky. They’re not clothes for Instagram: I’m tired of working for Zuckerberg all the time – like, where’s my check?

Can you see the negative impact of social media on fashion? Now, designers make their clothes for Instagram, not for real life.

Givenchy: tailored black gowns with some touch of colours.
Balenciaga: for a brand that staked everything on marketing rather than clothes, this show seemed like an attempt to clean its image after a catastrophic communication campaign. 
Miyake: weaving rhythm, shape, slowness and movement. Beautiful!
Yohji Yamamoto: always a world apart, with a touch of colour this time!
Valentino: a 90s reminiscence for a black tie elegance with coloured maxi coats.

A lot of basics, that doesn’t mean banal. More wearable clothes, in general.
But do we still need hundreds of outfits to understand a collection? Aren’t 30 or 40 enough? 

However, rather than just referring to what we liked or not, we want to share two general thoughts about Paris Fashion Week 2023, reasoning we can extend to the whole fashion month.

Fashion journalism & fashion weeks

If you turn to fashion journalists expecting honest feedback and review about the collections, forget it. Indeed, fashion journalists do not express their viewpoints. They simply report the designers’ ideas and talk about celebrities, but they do not add any professional perspective. No pondering, which you may agree or disagree with, but still would generate a discussion, sharing some value. What they do looks like a report cut out for Instagram. So, everything seems flat.

In a hyper-consumerist and wasteful field as the fashion industry, the mission now is to do something different. Following the rules of what the fashion industry has done so far, and still commenting on the status quo, will lead to nothing valuable. In the end, the status quo is what designers showed.

Beyond our control?

Natural threats and human behaviour

Last Wednesday night, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit eastern Japan, the same region devastated by a powerful quake 11 years ago.

And so my friend, who lives in Fukushima prefecture, texted me: “the trauma comes back again.”

In 2011, a tsunami up to about 40 meters high arrived at the coast within 30 minutes, destroying entire cities, and damaging nuclear power plants in Fukushima.

It was the most severe earthquake in recorded history. I was only 11 years old, but still, I vividly remember that day.
So last week, the same tragic pictures just crossed my mind.
I was terrified. I was scared of what I was watching on television. And I wish it was just under the scope of human control.

100% Man-Made

Boyarovskaya released their digital show for Fall/Winter 2022-2023 during the Paris fashion week.

In the end, it says:

“Nature cannot be controlled, but war can.”

Indeed the video was filmed in a town destroyed by a great earthquake.

A natural disaster is a catastrophe, yet we need to live with it. It kills thousands of people indiscriminately. The power of nature is frightening, intimidating, and out of control.

But what about the war?

Leading to actions

Fashion as a means of communication to send a powerful message

The simple words by Boyarovskaya are straightforward enough for the world today. But they leave such a strong message to all of us.

What we are now watching on television is a 100% man-made tragedy. Something we did not want.

With great respect, they chose to include their message in their digital show. It touches us, makes us think, and leads us to actions.

Only 4 minutes. No words spoken, but it tells so much about what we need to do in a very powerful, yet touching way.

Again, “Nature cannot be controlled, but war can.”
This is the word we need to live up with.


A piece written by Kotono Sakai, a Japanese girl studying history and fashion at Cattolica university in Milan and interning for suite123

Paris Fashion Week 22

Fashion as a means of protest

Paris Fashion Week 22 is over, and even there, the heartbeats felt in the past weren’t beating that much. The atmosphere was cooled down. Designing a collection during the pandemic for brands that have to grind a lot of money wasn’t the ideal ground.
Furthermore, showing during a war wiped out fashion relevance.

For sure, the war in Ukraine made us wonder what’s the sense in what we do.

Fall/Winter 22 Pret-a-porter

The purpose was to use every single voice, runway, or platform to protest. Even though we have to keep up with our work, we cannot stay silent in front of Ukraine’s tragedy. And so, we really appreciated all the designers who took a stand and raised their voices in support of Ukraine.

As in Milano, the ’90s were leading in Paris too: the white tank top, the slip dress, transparencies, crop-tops were everywhere. Also, Balenciagitis infected all designers in Paris too. In short, it was all about big shoulders.

Paris Fashion Week 22: some random tiny notes

Dior: a futuristic approach mixed with the past generated a far-fetched confusion.

Saint Laurant: this time is yes! Anthony Vaccarello made a very elegant collection respecting the maison’s heritage. The final tuxedos outfits were gorgeous!

Dries Van Noten: the video presentation looked like a commercial to launch his cosmetic line. Time to monetize!

Balmain: Olivier Rousteing is a good designer, but the show was too futuristic. Armours can protect you from haters but will never give you the elegance of a blazer.

Chloé: you can cook without salt, but the food has no taste. We saw some of the classics remixed with well-known marketing trends. However, the collection was insipid, and the beauty created by Natacha Ramsey-Levi vanished.

Uma Wang: a modern and beautiful collection shown through an impactful video.

Issey Miyake: one of the best digital presentations, “sow it and let it grow”, was the message. Indeed, the video was the story of growth and re-birth, which showed the cycle of nature through clothing.

Yohji Yamamoto: can you renovate while being faithful to your style? Only a master like him can do it, and his work is like poetry for fashion. The way he tailored denim was unique.

image of Paris - tour Eiffel in support of Ukraine

Boyarovskaya: impactful and chilling video. The Belarusian and Ukrainian duo sends a heartbreaking message.

Ann Demeulemeester: still white sneakers, for real? And weren’t all models wearing the same outfit again this season?

Balenciaga: Gvasalia’s background voice was chilling. His obsession for the East-European refugee outfits was clear so far, but his misshapen imagery never felt so real and angsty.

Valentino: PP Piccioli’s words, before the show, were everything: “we see you, we feel you”. A whole collection in PP Pink and some black. The message was strong, but the choice limited the beauty we used to see at Valentino shows. And the pre-show seemed like a commercial for Spiderman.

Vuitton: Ghesquière too got Balenciagitis! But we loved the tie outfits.

Chanel: a very wearable and balanced tweed story. No headshots.

Miu Miu: from preppy to biker style, call them winter outfits if you live in California! Panties peaking through the waistline recalled the first Dolce&Gabbana. Ok for the coats, jackets and column dresses. The rest, too mini, too cropped.

Paris Fashion Week 22
Final thoughts

Unfortunately, the return of the runways signalled the re-awakening of the collateral circus. However, let’s debunk a myth:
Who said video presentations aren’t a valuable means to introduce a collection? Don’t say it again, please.

And above all, one point emerged: activism through fashion is a thoughtful way to bring back a sense of purpose in our work.


Paris Couture Week

Sadness takes it all

Boring was the fil rouge of the Paris Couture Week, to the point of taking a nap. With very few exceptions.

The negative sentiment prevailed.
Paris for couture has always meant creativity at its peak. Maybe clothes you wouldn’t wear every day. Or not even once in a lifetime. But couture was the dream, the beauty of creativity skillfully made.
This time, brands told a flat story of bland uniformity. In order to sell in a difficult moment, they’d rather lose idiosyncrasy. What made them special. The reason we recognize them.

Infused with the fear of losing share, or determined to transform themselves into economic giants, they trampled on their own heritage.

Paris Couture Week
The tedious

Dior: perhaps wearable, but now it looks like many others. In fact, we still see Red Valentino in there more than Dior’s heritage.

Chanel: the DNA seemed watered down.

Gaultier: we understand the collaborations, but where’s the Gaultier spirit?

A partial exception
Schiapparelli: designs weren’t all his ideas, but, at least, the collection was impactful.

The exception

Valentino: this is Couture. Italian creativity.
Suzy Menkes wrote that Piccioli had a strong statement to make: women are not all the same. Yes, definitely. But even more, whatever the body shape he represented, women were dressed with elegance. And now that elegance is not in fashion anymore, that stood out most.

However, the idea of showing diverse body shapes in couture is good. But you may wonder if all those women who bought couture so far had the same silhouette of the models. Of course not! But they bought it anyway! You don’t buy couture if you feel represented, you buy it if you can afford it.

Because that’s what couture is: made to measure – made to order for very few lucky ones.

In the end, we understand this is not a good time for creativity, and lowering the bar is a way to reach the masses. But transforming brands into a blob deprived of any identity makes no sense.

B-Corp and fashion

It has emerged over the past few days that Chloé became a B-Corp.
Of course, people welcomed the news, applauding. Maybe there were just a few perplexed comments on social media.

B-Corp: What does it mean?
Now they are a Benefit Corporation. So, beyond their for-profit business, they want to maximise their positive impact on society and the environment.

What’s the point of becoming a B-Corp in fashion?
The Chloé’s collection shown in Paris was far away from the past magic. Indeed, all the luxury beauty outlined by the former designer, Natacha Ramsey-Levy, was gone.

The new guidance follows a more American way of working that embeds marketing at the brand’s core. We saw a collection peppered with the latest marketing trends — diversity, eco-friendly and ethical themes. And not that those values are wrong, indeed we share them entirely. But we question the fact that they sound like pure marketing.

Anyhow, it will be nice to witness how they’ll manage the actual overproduction model with an eventual lower production level. And see what happens with prices too.

B-Corp & the purpose of a fashion brand

What seems clear is that brands go from overproduction to the B-Corp losing sight of the real point of the work. What makes it a worthy effort.

The scope of an evolved fashion brand is to make beautiful collections, keeping in mind that the only way to obtain this goal is by respecting people involved in the production chains and the planet. Hence, paying proper wages and reducing pollution as much as possible.

Beautiful collections are the expression of good design and meaningful creative ideas. Therefore, the moment we make a respectful work representing a positive vision, all this beauty of thought must translate into outstanding products.

If the style is bland, meaning is lost. Even though the intentions are noble, assuming they are not only marketing tools, in the Chloé fashion show, there is no substance.

To be purpose-oriented is fine, but please don’t forget you are making fashion.
Keep beauty alive. Don’t kill the dream.

‘Overconsumption = Extinction’

Overproduction is devastating our culture, and it’s directly connected to the way we consume. Indeed we discussed this topic in many of our previous posts. We recognize that it’s deeply rooted in our social context.

October 5, Louvre Art Gallery. When the Louis Vuitton fashion show started, an activist broke in, carrying a sign reading:
“Overconsumption = Extinction.”

The protestor represented ‘Amis de la Terre France’, ‘Youth for Climate’ and ‘Extinction Rebellion’. She marched down the runway along with the models until a security guard forced her to leave.

Overproduction protest at Louis Vuitton show
Photo credit: Amis De La Terre FR

The reason for the protest? It was stated on the banner clearly.
Why LVMH? It’s understandable since LVMH is a luxury conglomerate. So to say, a profit-oriented corporation.

It’s known that corporations make profits by exploiting the market, squeezing the lemon to the max.

Luxury conglomerates & overproduction

Overproduction is the way corporations thrive. They run ever faster, renewing the range of products nonstop. Doesn’t it sound familiar with the market of mobile phones too? And in order to be able to sell all the tons of goods they produce, they push people to consume more and more – to the point of brainwashing them by playing with marketing tricks.

This protest went on after a pandemic, precisely during a fashion week in which some shifts were awaited. Even more, ‘rewiring fashion’ seemed a subject so dear to many major industry players.

If not radical changes, at least, we expected to see a little sign. Despite this, the only news was the protester disrupting a fashion show.

Is there another way to do fashion? As to do business in general?
Of course. But, it’s not mainstream. Also, two more facts are striking: first, people talk – a lot – but still buy fast fashion. Second, none talks about the impact of technology, which perhaps sells more than fashion.

What we consume and how we consume makes the difference. Obviously, it’s not related to fashion only. It’s about all industries. It’s a matter of lifestyle.

Shifting your habits is the only way to avoid extinction. Hear the protest if you care enough for the future!

Paris Fashion Week – En plein air!

A couple of messages seem clear from Paris Fashion Week. Apart from the most evident fact that nothing truly has changed. The idea of renovating a system, so discussed during the pandemic, changing its outdated foundations, providing new guiding principles and deeper values — has failed miserably. That’s what fashion ruled by finance does. Forget lesser productions with better quality – this is not for corporations.

Image of Paris during fashion week

So, what are the takeaways from Paris fashion shows

Paris Fashion Week: SS22 trends

Nature’s calling
Sea, trees, woods. This message seemed quite strong. Indeed, many designers have set up their fashion shows immersed in nature. As to celebrate something we all missed for over a year or more. Or a desire to reconnect with our so mistreated vital element.

Clothes have no gender
We saw male models walking the runway in skirts or dresses and females in man’s suits – interchangeable genderless outfits. Not that it’s something new. In fact, Gaultier already did it about 40 years ago. But perhaps, the time is ripe now for a wider audience. 

At this point, garments have lost their traditional gender connotation. An aesthetic that, from a historical viewpoint, has been developed as a reflection of patriarchy.
We understand this is a big topic. Indeed, it requires a deeper analysis, a full exploration. So we will dedicate a whole post later on. However, coming from a Gaultier influence, we always picked out men’s pieces for women or vice versa. If a garment looks good, no matter if it’s men’s or women’s. From now on, we hope there is a free attitude towards how clothing is perceived.

Garments are not stand-alone pieces. They become alive once we wear them. Without our intervention, clothes are empty. It’s us and our personality that completes them. 

The way we represent clothes, the way we portray them is called style. 
It’s an individual posture, the reflection of who we are.