Coming into Paris Fashion Week, there were a couple of things we knew to look out for: Victoria Beckham and Dries van Noten's first runway shows since the pandemic, some sort of Issey Miyake tribute to its late founder and the return of Comme des Garçons and Junya Watanabe (whose teams from Japan could finally travel).
But while we know to always expect a surprise or two, this season felt absolutely stacked with them, from Bella Hadid's insane Coperni spray-dress moment to the extremely unnecessary and problematic last-minute Y**zy show. Even Beyoncé joined in, throwing a surprise party on the final day with Tiffany & Co., though phones were strictly prohibited.
It was a lot to process. If there was one main takeaway it's that the line between creativity and gimmick has never been thinner, with the need for clicks, eyeballs and virality at an all-time high. Oh, and apparently we're still putting models in the most painful shoes possible. In the words of Sex and the City's Stanford Blatch's boyfriend Marcus: "It's not very modern!"
Below, a rundown of moments from Paris that we talked about the most, for better or worse.
Coperni's Viral Stunt
\u201cbella hadid closing coperni ss23, wearing a spray-on dress created live on runway. iconic!\u201d— DUDA (@DUDA) 1664570518
You've seen it dozens of times by now — two technicians spray-painting a dress on Bella Hadid at the end of Coperni's show — but the discourse lasted long after that. Some critics called it an "empty tricks" and "fashion gimmick" while others argued it was the most historic thing fashion has seen in years. The inevitable Shalom Harlow/McQueen comparisons came. Hadid, for her part, says it was the "best day of her life." Wherever you stand on the topic, Coperni was on everyone's tongues and WhatsApp group chats that week. Mission accomplished?
\u201cCoperni presented a solid gold version of its Swipe bag worth \u20ac100k. It will only be made to order.\u201d— Couture is Beyond (@Couture is Beyond) 1664980773
That wasn't the only stunt the Coperni team had up their sleeve. After going viral (sensing a pattern?) in February with their Heven glass bags, they debuted an 18 ct gold version of their signature Swipe bag this season. The bag (which took several weeks to made) was created in an Italian workshop by goldsmith Gabriele Veneri and can be made to order for 100,000 euros. (The one on the runway was melted down after the show.)
The Season of Bella Hadid
Bella walking shows isn't groundbreaking, but after a few seasons where she was notably MIA (she only resurfaced last season after an extended break), Spring 2023 felt like her official christening as this era's indisputable supermodel, walking 20 shows in total — 11 of which were in Paris alone, including Stella McCartney, Courrèges, Isabel Marant and Sacai, oftentimes closing them or wearing multiple looks for each. (For context, the one who walked the most shows this season was Venezuelan model América González, with 36.
Doja Cat's Beauty Looks
\u201cDoja Cat\u2019s Makeup for Fashion Week by Laurel Charleston\u201d— Fashion Faguette (@Fashion Faguette) 1664915032
Doja Cat's surreal makeup streak during New York Fashion Week continued will into Paris, with the pop star turning out freaky beauty looks at all the big shows she attended, from Vivienne Westwood to Monot. Laurel Charleston, who "turns makeup into fine art," was responsible for Doja's entire Paris glam, including the gold body paint she had on for A.W.A.K.E. Mode (with long nails by Saccia). She's also experimented with pearl eyebrows (Givenchy show), blue cheekbones (Lanvin) and the Thom Browne logo on her chin.
Back in June, we covered Demna's unusual fashion choice: a bag of Lays chips, clutched like some prize handbag, which he wore to the graduate show of Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Turns out that was no fashion fluke: the Georgian designer showed more of them at his Balenciaga show in different colors (flavors?), albeit these were rendered in calfskin leather and will likely reach four figures once it hits shelves if the trash bag is any indication.
Loewe Balloon Shoes
Loewe's surreal direction under Jonathan Anderson made waves last season with those squished balloon dresses and accessories, and there's even more balloons motifs for Spring 2023 — except this time they're deflated and run in the dozens to look like a mop of party balloons.
Hand Condoms and More Wet Stuff at Botter
The theme at Botter was...the ocean! So naturally they filled condoms with water and had the models wear them as gloves. There were also ice bucket bags, container cooler bags and some sneakers made with hovercraft-like transparent casing.
Surprise Runway Cameos
\u201cHear me out: Gwendoline Christie and MJ Rodriguez as Gwen and Mary Jane in a Spider Ladies crime fighters but make it fashion AU. #ThomBrowne\u201d— Sparky Destrato (@Sparky Destrato) 1664917333
The noise at Balmain's open-to-the-public festival fashion show reached its peak the moment Cher walked the runway finale with Olivier Rousteing. If there's ever an icon among us, it's her. Thom Browne's fairy tale extravaganza featured Game of Thrones' Gwendoline Christie and Pose's Michaela Jaé Rodriguez partake in the fantasy, with the latter closing the show in a pink Cadillac. Balenciaga had that man open the show. And Miu Miu enlisted FKA Twigs and Ethel Cain to wear Miuccia's clingy knits and preppy sweaters on the runway.
Ester Manas: Most Inclusive Paris Designer
\u201cFirst genuinely size-inclusive show in Paris: thin models, curvy models, and all body types in between. And they look happy. Thank you #EsterManas.\u201d— Vanessa Friedman (@Vanessa Friedman) 1664616436
While New York typically leads when it comes size inclusivity on the runway, Paris has historically been lacking in that regard, making newcomer Ester Manas a breath of fresh air. Having debuted at Fashion Week last year, designers Ester Manas and Balthazar Delepierre continue to show a range of body types in their collections, which are known for their one-size-fits-all slinky dresses with strategic cutouts and body-hugging fabrics. Manas (a plus-size woman herself) is her brand's own muse, and calls this collection for sunset bodies, not summer bodies.
Photos courtesy of brands