The Low-Key Breakout Stars of Paris Fashion Week

The Low-Key Breakout Stars of Paris Fashion Week

Story by Robin Burggraaf
Mar 08, 2024

As the rollercoaster that is Paris Fashion Week draws to a close, we get a chance to reflect on the cacophony of Fall 2024 style proposals that have been dumped on us in the short span of nine days. Besides the conglomerate-owned houses that the city is mostly known for, there is a new crop of emerging designers who are pushing a much needed influx of daring innovation.

Paris is somewhat unique in the sense that emerging brands from all over the world flock to the city to showcase their new collections. What makes a city dominated by big budget runway spectacles and a prestigious official calendar, governed by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et la Mode, so appealing to emerging talent with limited resources compared to the established historical houses of Paris?

Serge Carreira, the head of the Emerging Brands Initiative at the FHCM, explains that it’s not only the press, celebrities and the spectacle we see on social media that defines the fashion week: “We provide a rich ecosystem for emerging talent. The many professionals that visit are equally important to connect with if you want to grow your business.” It’s true that while each of the Big 4 fashion capitals historically has their own voice, Paris reigns supreme in attracting a diverse crowd of retail buyers, stylists, photographers, artists and prize scouts.

Below, PAPER compiled our picks of emerging talent that made waves this Paris Fashion Week.


His sophomore runway show saw designer Abraham Ortuño Perez, who earned his chops creating shoes and accessories for Jacquemus and Coperni, further come into his own and present a decidedly mature iteration of his eponymous label. Forgoing the traditional biyearly collection schedule, it took a year to develop the collection that emphasized quality and comfort. “I always say that, for us, the clothes are the accessories of the accessories,’’ Ortuño Perez tells PAPER with a grin. “As the accessories became more classic, I was seeking the Abra look that complements this.”

An ode to “everyday femininity,” his Fall 2024 collection was inspired by his aunt’s wardrobe, an effortlessly chic woman who spent most of her days in the beauty salon she owned. This translated into a character study of business-minded women decked out in slouchy tailored jacket and culotte combinations, faux fur-lined trench coats and subversive spins on the opera gown.

The shoes and bags always steal the spotlight at an ABRA show, and this season marked the debut of roomy weekend bags that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the arms of the Olsen twins in the early aughts. On top of that, the designer presented a line up of spiked wallet clutches, trompe-l'oeil sandal boots, flap-style draped poster bags and a series of bags cleverly camouflaged as a palette of shimmery eye-shadow. After the show, Richie Shazam, who also walked, and bestie Julia Fox could be spotted eagerly admiring all the finery that ABRA had cooked up this season.

Photos courtesy of ABRA


Ellen Hodakova Larsson is a Swedish breakout star who is quickly making a name for herself with her eclectic romanticism. Upcycling and reconstructing garments are central to her practice — a resourcefulness that she picked up during her youth on a rural farm — but its her distinct design vocabulary that has earned her a spot in the ongoing Gucci Vault project, which landed her a Rolling Stone cover with Dua Lipa wearing a black bustier made from repurposed leather belts.

Just days after presenting her work to Jennifer Lawrence and a bevy of industry professionals as a LVMH Prize semi-finalist, Ellen descended on an intimate white cube gallery space in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The location was selected to be close to the Balenciaga show venue — a practical move since Hodakova is not on the official calendar just yet. Here, she showcased a playful interpretation of codes typically associated with British aristocracy: tartan and argyle knits, fur, checkered flat caps, equestrian boots and, notably, Chesterfield sofas.

Highlights were an armor-like top forged out of silver trays, a family heirloom, and beige army chinos fashioned into a voluminous low-waist skirt billowing out from under a bustier constructed from a pair of riding boots with uppers still intact. The finale dress made out of equestrian prize ribbons hinted at the designer's youth as a passionate rider.

Supported by the Swedish Fashion Council, under the guidance of CEO Jennie Rosén, Hodakova exemplifies just how far foreign talent can go with a little support from home.

Photos courtesy of HODAKOVA


A Paris Fashion Week first, fashion “enfant terrible” Betsy Johnson presented “HARD DRESSING,” a 24-hour livestream and IRL experience showcasing the second collection of her collaborative label aptly titled PRODUCTS. After her first collaboration with queer Berlin-based design collective UY Studio, she now partnered with digital marketplace to present a range of soccer jerseys, bonnets and sunglasses.

Those who tuned into the livestream could catch Yves Tumor doing a live set while designers Laura Beham and Callum Pidgeon, from Swiss brand Prototypes, applied their cut-copy-paste aesthetic to create three looks styled and cut on Betsy’s body made from track pants, the aforementioned bonnets and biodegradable bags. Viewers at home were provided with clear instructions on how to replicate these conceptual pieces.

Never one to shy away from societal critique, Betsy Johnson used the presentation to comment on the hardships that newfound creative entrepreneurs might encounter by publishing an ironic brochure chronicling the road to success, accompanied by images by frequent collaborator Hugo Comte.

Phots courtesy of PRODUCTS

Gerrit Jacob

Earlier in February, newcomer Gerrit Jacob staged his debut show titled “Made in Heaven,” an homage to the awkward yet transformative stages of adolescence. Building on his core of colorful motor attire, he further fleshed out his universe with billowing off-the-shoulder dresses and a new, cropped silhouette.

He aims to capture the mood shifts and identities of teenagers, from the innocence of dirty socks and a recurring horse motif to the aggressive undercurrents of teenage angst felt in his rapid airbrush strokes.

While the presentation took place in Berlin (the local senate and communication agency Reference Studios offers support and financial aid in a successful attempt to nurture emerging design talent), Jacob organizes a showroom in Paris every season to connect with buyers and fellow creatives.

Photos: Ioannis Papadakis

reward if found

Parisian newcomer Mohamed Khattabi playfully deciphered the codes and histories of his North African heritage and European spirit into a cross-cultural aesthetic. Clashing patterns, contemporary color combinations and pulled, knotted and layered garments took a central role in reward if found’s Fall 2024 proposal.

Inspired by symbols of rural life, the collection placed the motif of a sun blazing in the mountain cold on several garments, while a draped skirt cut from a square pattern referenced a simple gingham kitchen cloth.

The Comme des Garçons alumnus chooses to communicate his work through installations and campaign imagery that’s inspired by documentary photography. Taking a poetic approach to fashion, Khattabi uses his designs as a vehicle for diasporic narratives that are too often overlooked in fashion.

Photos courtesy of reward if found

Alain Paul

Alain Paul spent his teenage years at the Opéra École National Supérieur de Danse de Marseille, but at 18, he chose to continue his studies in fashion design. He further developed his skill during the early years of VETEMENTS. Paul now merges tropes found in a dancer’s wardrobe with the perversely contemporary signature of Demna. The result is a composition of decidedly sexy body-clinging tops, high-waisted trousers, luxuriously tailored coats and the cuntiest iteration of a ballet pointe we have ever seen.

Photos courtesy of Alain Paul