Share Article

The notion of modern femininity fell into two separate camps at the Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter ’24 showcases. It was divided into two — the “fantasy” and the “reality”. The former indulges the wearer (and the viewer) into a world of hyper-fantasy, where fashion is seen as a form of escapism. The latter is perhaps more wearable, contemporary pieces. One gives the space to dream while the other is set on function. There is also something to be said about a collection when it’s men design for women as opposed to women designing for women. Ultimately they all fall under the bigger picture of “What are brands contributing to the feminist narrative?”

Alexander McQueen

Seán McGirr at Alexander McQueen took on the notion of “revealing the animal within” for the McQueen Fall/Winter ’24 collection. There was indeed an element of what lies beneath the surface, as the collection started off with a distorted drape dress in a black laminated jersey. Knitwear then came into the forefront with look 7, a jumper with a quadruple collar in black hand-knit wool and a skirt in black silk nylon tarpaulin. Then the inclusion of grey shearling and tufted wool on a tulle base and jumper in charcoal and red wool rib knit with patched statue embroidery. The collection referenced the late Alexander McQueen’s “The Birds” Spring ’95 collection. The only setback is that McGirr and McQueen — both share in common — sometimes, perhaps put significant weight onto aesthetics over function as seen on the final dress which was a “car dress in blue steel”. The was a restriction in the lack of movement to the pieces which can be seen in one of two ways. Firstly, these women are warriors and their hard exterior clothing is both used as a form of protection and as walking works of art. However, the model’s hindered movement steers the collection further into the realm of fantasy than wearability.

Balenciaga

Balenciaga saw super-fluid, deconstructed tailoring. Pieces within the collection comprised of one-minute designs using various clothing items thrown together and sewn as one new garment. A standout was the usage of lingerie pieces to construct and form a gown. Elsewhere, three hoodies were combined to make a dress, with the lowermost piece being inverted so that the sleeves formed a mermaid tail which was intended to be a reinterpretation of Cristobal Balenciaga’s “Bubble Dress”. Demna’s reason for this form of experimentation was to question the notion of luxury while finding beauty in scarcity, in a world oversaturated with content. Demna forged the notion of “rarity” by reworking the concept of beauty and looking at how the body interacts with the clothing. While crafted from unorthodox materials, Demna’s awareness of the wearer is ultimately commendable as he puts function ahead of concept and aesthetics, something the designer had balanced within his collections past.

Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent removed the sensationalisation and hypersexuality of the naked female body. Anthony Vaccarello metaphorically (and sometimes literally) made clothes invisible with figure-hugging silk dresses mimicking sheer undergarments. Transparency was front and centre as the distance between the garment and skin was minimised and done provocatively, but not in bad taste. This was the point after all — can the purity of the naked body be provocative? Or is it a celebration of feminine artifice? Frisson aside, tailored pieces also employed the same fluidity — from a crepe georgette suit that appears to “liquify” on the body to the immaterial levity of a coat made of countless marabou feathers. The collection saw women having agency over their own bodies, resiliently so at a time when women’s rights are being questioned and their voices censored. This collection was anything but censored and it empowered the confidently daring Saint Laurent woman.

LOEWE 

LOEWE’s Fall/Winter’24 showcase was on the cusp of conceptual and contemporary. While abstract floral motifs donned printed dresses and trousers; neckties and sculptural short dresses, the collection also highlighted the juxtaposition of the masculine and feminine. Bespoke tailoring was translated on sleek aviator jackets and flowing slacks; straight cut trousers and draped dresses. While the palette was set against the backdrop of Albert York’s paintings, the collection picked up on surrealism using ostrich as a trompe l’oeil, hyperreal print while 3D checks and tartans were created to look like they were melting. LOEWE’s practical approach to luxury fashion was a modern approach to modesty. The clothes were not overly revealing and yet did not fall short in sensuality.

Chloe

For German designer Chemena Kamali, her Chloe collection was incredibly personal and based on her own emotional connection to the House. The collection championed the woman’s spirit and it was about embracing natural beauty with a sense of “freedom and undone-ness”. Chiffon draped and flowed beautifully as the collection’s embellishments uplifted the femininity of the showcase. The collection was an evolution of how women in different stages of their lives and how it can be used as a tool for self discovery. The pieces harkened back to the sensuality of natural femininity from the 1970s. “The fluidity, motion, and movement of the Chloé silhouette is all about this freedom,” writes Kamali. The collection was rich in freedom and an instinctive female energy, a prime example of the difference between men and women designing clothes for women in mind.

Dior

Maria Grazia Chiuri has reflected on the transitional era of the late 1960s resulting in an array of practical pieces that still held on to imagination and dynamicsm. The collection used cosmopolitan women as inspiration, opting to highlight independent women who were determined to a name for themselves through their work. The pieces facilitated movement while enhancing the woman’s body without constricting it. While the The Miss Dior logo seen in a palette of blues, reds and browns was a polarising inclusion into the collection, each piece could still be worn interchangeably in everyday life be it at work or leisure. Adjustable scarves, compact, protective outerwear and free flowing silhouettes highlighted an autonomous, versatile femininity.

Hermès

Going back to the Maison’s roots, Hermès’s Fall/Winter ’24 collection took on an equestrian theme meets motocross theme. With female “riders” in itself already a once-controversial nod to the patriarchy, the collection in itself brimmed with pieces that women would wear and could use to elevate their wardrobe. Overcoats and rainwear crafted from resilient leathers, robust twills and supple cashmere, each piece explored the archetypes between the masculine and feminine, with versatility and attention to detail. The collection saw the evolution of the rider then and now, from horseback to machine with jodhpurs reinvented as leather long johns, a saddle pad transformed into a quilted leather biker jacket and a blanket coat that unfurls into a real blanket.

Valentino

Two years ago, Maison Valentino’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli released the now famed monochrome “pink-out” collection as a radical gesture to maximise the impact of design by limiting himself to one colour. This season, the House was once again stripped down to a single hue and this time it was the sombre hue of mourning. “Black has always held within itself a multitude of definitions and meanings,” reads the show’s notes. There is a reason why the key looks from the collection were all black and it could perhaps be a reflection of what is happening in the world. Once again, the sense of restraint within the colour palette let the design elements shine including patterns, embroideries, fabrics alongside Valentino’s signature’s like rosettes, ruffles, and lace. Shapes and silhouettes shined in sculptural velvets and crêpe while sheer chiffon veiled the skin. Piccioli didn’t shy away from highlighting the female body, opting to use the colour black not only as a sign of defiance and challenging of sterotypes but as a representation of a woman’s individuality in a world that can seem increasingly uniform.

For more on the latest in runway reviews and luxury fashion, click here

Share Article