Paris Fashion Week: the best of the womenswear ready-to-wear spring/summer 2024 shows including highlights from Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga
The spring/summer 2024 shows at Paris Fashion Week just ended. Pantless outfits were everywhere – both on and off the runway – in a trend that started at a blockbuster Miu Miu autumn show last season and shows no signs of abating.
Besides that, many shows this season offered their share of stand-out moments – from Gabriela Hearst’s cheerful swansong at Chloé to Stella McCartney’s wonderful sustainable market and yet another stunning collection from hot brand du jour Schiaparelli.
Here are our highlights from eight of the most important names in fashion.
How many designers do you know who only had one job for their entire careers? Sarah Burton, creative director at Alexander McQueen, has been at the label since its founding 30 years ago, first as the late designer’s assistant and then as his replacement after he tragically took his life in 2010.
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This was her last show for the British house, which gave the proceedings a bit of a bittersweet vibe. The show ended with a massive standing ovation – guests such as actress Cate Blanchett were visibly moved when Burton took her bow, while model Naomi Campbell couldn’t help but shed a few tears on the runway.
The range this season felt like a celebration of the mesmerising oeuvre she has built at McQueen since taking over – super sharp tailoring, diaphanous dresses with lavish metallic embroidery, and subtle homages to the British Isles: in this case the “blood red” English rose. This made for an even more compelling outing, especially for those of us lucky enough to have attended every single one of her moving shows since she took over at the label.
As he explained in a recent interview with Style, Balenciaga’s creative director Demna has been thinking a lot about how garments are made. His focus on the pure art of dressmaking was evident in the brand’s summer 2024 collection. The jacket – an item that exemplifies the craft of tailoring more than any other – was the centrepiece of the show, which featured a techno soundtrack juxtaposed with the voice of actress Isabelle Huppert reciting in French all the steps involved in the creation of a tailored jacket. (The invitation to the show was a vintage handbook detailing those same steps.)
While the casting was a bit of a IYKYK stunt for fashion insiders – top models like Liu Wen and Mariacarla Boscono walked the runway alongside respected fashion critic Cathy Horyn, the Kardashian-Jenners’ friend Fai Khadra, transgender model Amanda Lepore and Balenciaga’s global PR director Robin Meason – the mainly black line-up of sharp-shouldered jackets and layered outerwear, and a smattering of floral-print dresses, hoodies and joggers was another step in the evolution of the always-buzzy Parisian label.
The best knitwear of the season was hands down at Loewe, the Spanish house helmed by Jonathan Anderson, a designer who has a penchant for the tactile and textured. While he often likes to indulge in flights of fancy to create a wow moment on the runway, this time he stayed a little more grounded with a series of looks that felt very of the moment and that cool girls around the world will want to wear.
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The stunning knitwear capes with gold buttons had an almost a regal quality to them while also being very much down to earth – they were, after all, paired with denim pants and flat shoes. Preppy shirts and jumpers worn with buttery-soft leather shorts with pins and needles as closures stood out for their clever simplicity in a show that cemented Loewe as the go-to label for modern luxury. The statement jewellery came courtesy of celebrated sculptor Lynda Benglis, whose work was also displayed at the venue.
Grace and femininity have always been at the core of Valentino’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli’s collections. For spring/summer 2024, the designer celebrated the female body in a show involving a performance by singer FKA Twigs and six backup dancers, all clad in barely there nude outfits that accentuated their lithe frames.
While garments are meant to cover the body, Piccioli wanted to show that they can reveal as much as they can cover. To do so, he and his ateliers came up with a technique called altorilievo (high relief), sculpting fabrics in 3D and creating cut-out patterns in the shapes of birds, flowers and fruit that encased the bodies of the models, with hints of skin showing from underneath. In a season where naked dressing has become the trend du jour, Valentino’s take on it was elegant, graceful and far from vulgar – demure sensuality rather than overt sexuality.
The premise for Saint Laurent’s spring/summer 2024 show was quite simple: a homage to one of house founder Yves Saint Laurent’s most beloved creations, the safari jacket – famously immortalised in an iconic photo by photographer Francesco Scavullo starring model Veruschka.
Anthony Vaccarello, the label’s creative director, also wanted to celebrate pioneering women such as aviator American Amelia Earhart and French pilot Adrienne Bolland. The result was a chic line-up of timeless looks that revisited the utilitarian jacket – or saharienne, as they call it in France – in flowy materials such as chiffon, giving it a modern spin with that added touch of sexiness that Vaccarello never fails to deliver in his collections.
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Were witches the original feminists? This thought was on the mind of Dior’s creative director of womenswear Maria Grazia Chiuri, a designer who has championed women’s rights from her very first collection for the storied Parisian house. Unsurprisingly, given the inspiration of the spring/summer 2024 collection, monochrome hues dominated the line-up, which featured some of Chiuri’s signature silhouettes such as trench coats paired with A-line skirts and ethereal sheer dresses in black.
This season, Chiuri, who often collaborates with artists, commissioned Italian artist Elena Bellantoni to create a video installation using images from sexist adverts juxtaposed with feminist slogans such as “No-body is yours, no-body is perfect, everybody is performative.”
The power of Louis Vuitton was on full display at the label’s spring/summer 2024 show, which took place on the Champs-Elysées, Paris’ main shopping street. Down one side, shoppers were lining up outside the brand’s flagship store to get their hands on its coveted leather goods; on the other, a massive crowd gathered to see celebrities and other guests attending the show, held in a gutted 19th-century building where the brand is set to open a new space. The interior of the construction site was entirely wrapped in orange recycled and recyclable polythene.
The show opened with bomber jackets paired with flowing skirts. Mannish tailoring appeared throughout, while boxy coats worn with mini skirts and a smattering of form-fitting sequinned looks were the main highlights. The collection was yet another example of women’s artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière’s ability to combine Parisian flair with the futuristic aesthetic that is a signature of his work.
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After a week of sunny days, the weather turned gloomy on the last day of Paris Fashion Week, but Chanel transported guests to the town of Hyères, Provence, for the unveiling of its spring/summer 2024 ready-to-wear show.
Images of the modernist Villa Noailles – sat in the hills above Hyères, where photographers Inez and Vinoodh also shot a teaser photograph for the collection – covered the walls of the venue where the show opened with a series of beautiful striped dressing gowns in tweed paired with thong sandals. Those luxed-up flip flops are likely to become bestsellers when they hit stores this summer. Swimwear, Breton stripes, flower appliqués and denim separates, all worn with those thongs and ballerina flats, completed the line-up. It was a lovely breath of fresh air and a pragmatic collection that will certainly strike a chord with long-time Chanel aficionados and younger luxury lovers.
Can Schiaparelli sustain the momentum it has built over the last three years and move beyond the red-carpet moments that have made it into a celebrity and media darling? That is certainly the goal of the brand, which has built a strong following thanks to its elegant separates and bestselling brass jewellery and this season is aiming to capture more customers with its first pair of of sneakers, introduced at the spring/summer 2024 show. Appropriately held at the Italian embassy on the Left Bank of Paris – late founder Elsa Schiaparelli was a famous Italian emigrée to the city of light – the runway presentation paid homage to her surrealist aesthetic while also evolving creative director Daniel Roseberry’s repertoire. Although by now we have become familiar with his showstopping black looks with gold accents, he keeps mining Elsa’s signatures such as her famous lobster and her penchant for trompe-l’oeil to offer plenty of new takes that never lack the wow factor.
Stella McCartney’s shows are always upbeat and fun. Models, clad in beautifully cut tailored separates and barely there dresses, sashay down the runway at breakneck speed to the accompaniment of cheerful music. Held on a sunny morning in the location of a food market a stone’s throw away from the Seine river, the spring/summer 2024 show delighted guests with Stella’s Sustainable Market, a showcase of 21 stalls selling everyting from vintage Stella items to her beauty line, childrenswear, collaboration with Adidas and fresh juices. The clothes stayed true to her aesthetic: menswear-inspired silhouettes, flirty dresses, lots of texture and plenty more that women will want to wear come spring.
The influence of Miu Miu was all over Milan and Paris. The brand’s autumn/winter 2024 show kicked off the pantless trend that is still going super strong. You just had to look at all the showgoers shunning bottoms, unafraid to try the bold look first seen on actress Emma Corrin, who opened that fall show clad in a pair of sequinned briefs paired with a beige jumper. For spring/summer, Miuccia Prada offered her subversive take on preppy dressing at the sister brand of Prada. Hemlines keep getting shorter at Miu Miu and this season – besides briefs, bermudas and men’s bathing suits – Miuccia introduced ruffled micro miniskirts that will be on every magazine cover and on plenty of celebrities next season. They were all worn with very sensible footwear: flip-flop sandals, sneakers from an ongoing collaboration with New Balance and brogues made in partnership with British brand Church’s.