On the Paris Runways, Sculpted Silhouettes and Influencer Spectacles

Paris Fashion Week abounds with the usual mix of TikTok-ready presentations, celebrity antics, and future trends. The big takeaway this season is the shift away from formless designs and once again embracing distinct silhouettes.

Loewe’s Fall/Winter 2023 menswear show in Paris. Photography via Getty Images

Plunging temperatures and a transit strike can’t curb the pageantry on the runways in Paris, where high-octane spectacles are stealing the show. Celebrity antics were on full display—Kylie Jenner showed up to Schiaparelli donning a severed lion head, and Doja Cat one-upped her with Avatar-esque devil-red body paint blanketed in 30,000 Swarovski crystals. But all eyes were on KidSuper, the Brooklyn up-and-comer tapped by Louis Vuitton as this season’s guest designer. In the Cour Carrée du Louvre, Spanish superstar Rosalía rocked the roof while models showed off technicolor hoodies and suits splashed with pithy slogans described fittingly by the French maison as “boyish and surreal” to mixed reviews.

It was grandiose but cacophonous—and as Angelo Flaccavento writes for Business of Fashion, a distraction from the real forces at play. From Loewe and Rick Owens to Saint Laurent, luxury brands are revisiting defined silhouettes and sculpted lines rendered in blacks and neutrals. It’s a welcome antidote to the oversize, formless shapes that have long reigned in fashion but may be waning. 

Louis Vuitton’s Fall/Winter 2023 menswear show in Paris in collaboration with KidSuper. Images courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Saint Laurent returned to the French capital to kick off menswear shows with a chic outing at the Bourse de Commerce. Underneath the trade exchange-turned-museum’s newly restored rotunda, creative director Anthony Vaccarello’s meditations on today’s ideal Saint Laurent man came into full view. (Hint: there is none.) Cocooning overcoats and billowing trousers in his signature black took cues from womenswear, skewing androgynous while offering focus, elegance, and a dash of social commentary. Rick Owens also delivered here, deftly mixing capes and Victorian silhouettes with skin-showing sleaze.

Expectations were similarly bucked at Bode, the cult New York menswear brand helmed by Emily Adams Bode Aujla, who took a three-year hiatus from showing in Paris after Covid-19 sent her home sick. She returns with newfound clarity about her label’s evolution by debuting womenswear that upholds her signature reverence for archival garments and near-extinct craft techniques. The pieces recall a year Bode Aujla’s mother spent in a house on Cape Cod working for a nonagenarian who wore fanciful gowns to dinner every night, so expect evening wear ranging from ‘40s-inspired velvet dresses to embellished tuxedos. 

(FROM LEFT) Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 2023. Rick Owens Fall/Winter 2023. Images via Indigital

Loewe entered the fold with one of creative director and Surface cover star Jonathan Anderson’s most memorable collections yet, melding art-inspired motifs with metallic coats and accouterments reflective of his unwavering attention to craft. Two giant LED screens beaming with custom paintings by Angeleno portraitist Julien Nguyen took pride of place in the light-filled white cube setting, yet didn’t distract from the shimmering velvet trenches, suede dusters, and pewter jackets built for Loewe by a maker of computer plates. “Menswear can be such an exciting platform to trial things by pushing the envelope in different materialities,” Anderson says.

Speaking of, Schiaparelli kicked off Couture Week with a fruitful study into the house’s surrealist legacy, quashing any suspicions that creative director Daniel Roseberry was experiencing “designer’s block” as described in the show notes. Inspired by the beasts of Dante’s Inferno, taxidermy-like jungle cats and wolves made of foam and fiber were affixed to billowing coats and dresses. (It sparked backlash, though PETA didn’t seem to mind.) They joined corset-like tops adorned with oversize shoulder pads and extra-long sleeves. 

(FROM LEFT) Bode Fall/Winter 2023. Schiaparelli Spring 2023.

“Fashion has never felt more exciting,” Anderson continued. “The landscape is changing, and as a designer, you have to look at the culture and respond to it. Hopefully, we’re entering a period where it’s about feeling uncomfortable because it might lead to a moment of enjoying the clothing and not the brand. It’s good to be willing to reinvent yourself.”

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