PARIS – Chloe — the house that invented ready-to-wear — got almost ready-to-dance at Thursday’s installment of Paris Fashion Week as designer Gabriela Hearst developed disco fever, cracking open strobe lighting, colored 1970s disc motifs and grungy hair.
And this season Rick Owens, the indefatigable U.S. designer, brought a softer touch to his display of creature-couture.
Here are some highlights of the spring-summer 2023 collections in Paris:
CHLOE’S PARED DOWN DISCO
Katie Holmes and other VIP guests fumbled to their block seating amid the house’s dim atmospheric lights, strewn with champagne coupes and disco décor.
The scene ushered in a collection that while not exactly disco, was a very Hearst-for-Chloe version of it: Pared-down and minimalist with occasional whooshes of the dance floor.
The disc motif was used throughout. It appeared as cutouts on the side of a white sporty sheath dress, as eyelets, or as blue, orange, white and black inserts on gowns worn by models with long gelled hair as if they’d been dancing.
Oversized white tuxedos added a welcome menswear touch to the sporty aesthetic. But at times, despite the concept -- or perhaps because of it -- the styles seemed to lack a little in energy.
But there were still plenty of standout looks: Supermodel Gigi Hadid stole the show in a boho silver chain-mail gown that looked part “Game of Thrones,” part “Saturday Night Fever.”
RICK OWENS GETS SOFT
At his Paris show, there were of course all of Rick Owens’ usual ethereal monsters -- elongated with peaked shoulders, draping, and sinews in fabric resembling flesh. But this season Owens, the indefatigable U.S. designer, brought a softer touch.
On Thursday, diaphanous white fur poked out of brace boots on the outdoor runway while voluminous 3-D sleeves were fashioned in tactile pearly white.
The first look was a showstopper. A sheer toga gown that might have been worn to the Oscars in Ancient Rome, if there had been such a thing. The model’s hair was androgynously slicked back and her pastel thigh-high boots harked from outer space.
It was a rare treat from a fashion master.
SHANG XIA’S PASTEL MINIMALISM
Shang Xia debuted at Paris Fashion Week a year ago to curiosity and growing anticipation as new designer Yang Li swept in with a popping minimalist aesthetic that garnered warm reviews.
The brand, created in 2010 by Hermes International with the grand ambition to be their first luxury brand rooted in Chinese culture, was originally well known for expensive tea sets and lacquered boxes.
The razor-sharp silhouettes displayed in Thursday’s show continued the minimalism and the successful formula. The spring collection was delivered in pastel colors and accessorized with chunky platform wedges. The decor’s stratified scenes of clouds and sky-scraping cityscapes provided a further fashion-forward, futuristic edge.
Plays on form and shapes — like colored circular discs — gave the brand’s 40 fashion looks a contemplative mood which softened the effect that pure minimalism can sometimes produce.
OFF-WHITE GETS THE BLUES
The late, great Virgil Abloh may have passed on, but his brand and image continue to live on across Paris’ fashion runway sinews — especially through the vehicle of the luxury street label he founded, Off-White. His erstwhile collaborator, Ib Kamara, was announced earlier this year as Off-White’s new image and art director and that puts the house in good stead.
A biker in blue was the opening aesthetic of the spring runway Thursday, with a sexy lace cutout at the midriff and lace mask. Set against the bright mid-blue decor, it felt fresh, street and dreamlike — as did the entire collection.
Poetic references were rife, some alluding to Abloh.
A white mouth cover— preventing speech — looked kinky, yet descended into two white flowers held like children’s glove straps.
And an X-ray tuxedo — with images of the human bone bone structure on it — felt stylishly cutting edge, but also close to home for the brand whose founder died last year from cancer.