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FW24: Time travel, throwbacks and (faltering) debuts at Paris Fashion Week

By Jule Scott


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Louis Vuitton FW24 Credits: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

When Nicolas Ghesquière returned to the Cour Carrée at the Louvre last night, exactly ten years to the day after he presented his first collection for Louis Vuitton, it was, as is custom for the brand, to close out a packed Paris Fashion Week schedule for Fall/Winter 2024. 

The designer, who will continue his reign at the helm of the French luxury house for at least another five years, took the over 4000 attendees of his anniversary collection down memory lane while simultaneously inviting them on a futuristic spacecraft designed by the artist Philippe Parreno. The collection was self-referential, offering a compendium of his greatest hits, his well documented love of sci-fi as well as glimpses of his Balenciaga days. It also paid homage to the maisons past with silk-printed dresses reminiscent of Vuittons monogrammed trunks. The show ended with a standing ovation for the designer who continues to double-down on his singular vision, even after a decade, and a visibly emotional Nicolas Ghesquière, who took a modest bow while simultaneously beaming with pride – most likely aware that ten years at the helm of a brand is almost unheard of in this day an age. 

Louis Vuitton FW24 Credits: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

The worst kept secret in all of Paris

Some attendees, however, hardly had time to celebrate or congratulate Ghesquiere because while Vuitton had officially closed the Fall/Winter 2024 season, the fashion spectacle wasn’t over just yet. Little did the industry know that the quiet but persistent rumour of a surprise Saint Laurent Menswear show that had made the rounds on social media would, in fact, turn out to be true. And so, mere days after creative director Anthony Vaccarello had presented his latest womenswear collection, the designer followed it up with a “secret” menswear presentation. 

Taking place at Kering-owner Francois Pinault's museum, the Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection, the show was a much smaller affaire than Vuittons extravaganza, seating only roughly one hundred people. Those who were invited were presented with a collection that, much like Vuittons show, was heavily influenced by the archive of the brand, or better said its founder, Yves Saint Laurent himself. Models were styled to look like the late designer if he had been trading styling-tips with fictional serial-killer Patrick Bateman: 80s power suits with strong shoulders, slicked-back hair, glasses. 

Saint Laurent Menswear Credits: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

In the past seasons, the Saint Laurent menswear and womenswear were in constant dialogue with each other, borrowing shapes and silhouettes here and there. This season, the menswear, however, and its strong emphasis on tailoring felt far removed from the womenswear that had preceded it. For women, tailoring, for the most part, took a backseat while the focus was on transparent craftsmanship and hosiery. A choice that, while rooted in the brand's heritage, and its first see-through look in 1966, has invited criticism. A rarity for Vaccarello at Saint Laurent as of late.  

While Vaccarello looked to the 60s when it came to the starting point of his womenswear, Virginie Viard went right back to the beginning of Chanel for her Fall/Winter collection. Viard not only travelled in time, back to 1912 when everything started for Gabrielle Chanel, but also brought the small seaside town of Deauville to Paris. It was there, in the small town best known as t​​he “Parisian Riviera”, that Gabrielle Chanel first opened a boutique, selling hats in the beginning before adding a for the time, androgynous ready-to-wear line. As such, it was only natural that Viard started her collection, which was presented on a runway resembling a boardwalk, with a hat. What followed was a collection that drew from sailor uniforms, translated into jumpers, cardigan-sets, and long coats somewhere between dusters and peacoats as well as floaty tea dresses and jeans, of course, without completely neglecting Chanel's fabric of choice: tweed. 

Chanel FW24 Credits: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

A tale of two debuts 

Time Travel back to the archives of a brand, however, did not stop there. For her Chloé debut, Chemena Kamali paid tribute to the French fashion house's longest-serving creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, while simultaneously reintroducing fashion to the “Chloé Girl”, an emblem of Bohemian chic that had dictated the brand's image under Clare Waight Keller. 

“I want to bring back the feeling I had when I first stepped through the doors here 20 years ago and fell in love with the Chloé woman’s spirit,” the Germany-born, Central Saint Martins-trained designer wrote in her show notes. “I want to feel her presence again; her beat, her natural beauty, her sense of freedom and undone-ness. She is real. She is herself.” 

Chloé FW24 Credits: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

The “Chloé Girl”, under Kamali has grown up a little, is perhaps becoming, as she said, the Chloé woman, and yet, her collection not only saw the return of several Chloé muses, both in the front row and on the runway, but the hallmarks of the brands' vocabulary. Nearly every look, in one way or another, started with the idea of a blouse, said to have been founder Gaby Aghions favourite garment. Romantic, nostalgic blouses and sheer dresses, sprouting ruffles and flounces featured prominently in Kamali’s line-up, paired with hip-slung trousers and tap-shorts, and knee-high boots. To top it all off, Kamali brought back the “Paraty”-bag, a trapezoidal satchel with gold hardware, first introduced under then creative director Hannah MacGibbon in 2008 that is sure to take Chloé back to the years of the “it” bags. 

Kamalis debut came with high accolades, though another debutant of the season had a rough start to his creative endeavours at a prestigious house. Sean McGirr, who had the complicated and thankless task to take over from Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen as the first designer without a personal connection to its namesake, did look back at the brand's archive but did not quite rise to the challenge just yet. The references were there: traces of McQueens 1995 collection “The Birds”, compressed silhouettes, some tailoring, especially the menswear, was sharp and compared to Burton, McGirr did bring some grittiness back to the brand, though that, given the changing times and the fact the brand, once struggling to make ends meet, is now owned by a luxury conglomerate felt a little heavy-handed, if not out of place. 

Alexander McQueen FW24 Credits: Alexander McQueen.

This does not imply that there is no potential in McGirr's vision. Stepping into the footsteps of Lee McQueen himself is no easy feat, but perhaps it is worth remembering that the designer, especially early on in his career, divided opinions at best. If negative reviews and public outcries are anything to go by and history is about to repeat itself, perhaps McGirr's sophomore collection will prove the naysayers wrong.

Realistically, much like one should never judge a book by its cover, the industry should have by now learnt not to judge a designer by his first collection at the helm of a brand. While Stefano Gallicis debut for Ann Demeulemeester last season wasn’t met with criticism of the like of McGirr, it was his sophomore collection that proved just how well he understands the codes of the house and the woman who built them. The young designer has found a formula that works, referencing the archive without repeating it ad nauseam. This season, Gallici showed more of himself and in doing so, clearly underlined his deep connection with the brand that he has been with, previously as menswear designer, since the brand became part of the Antonioli Group in 2020. 

His Fall/Winter 2024 collection explored the thin lines between roughness and fragility. He presented layers of chiffon, georgette dresses and fluid lingerie elements and contrasted them with biker jackets, structured tailoring and an air of a grungy romance that was further underlined by unruly hair and heavy boots that gave the impression that the Ann Demeulemeester girls aren’t delicate, even if the fabrics they wear might be. 

Ann Demeulemeester Credits: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

Fashion breaks the internet 

Speaking of designers that have found their formula, it is near impossible not to mention Coperni’s Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant. The pair that has previously spray-painted a dress onto Bella Hadid on the runway have made a name for themselves as the mad scientists of fashion, and this season was no different as they created a new version of their pre-existing ‘Swipe Bag’ out of thin air – literally. The newest model, that, somewhat unfortunately, stole the show and took away from the collection it came with, borrowed material from NASA to create a bag made of 99 percent air and just one percent glass.

Coperni FW24 Credits: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

The unlikely material was quick to steal the show as it became an instant hit on social media, a phenomenon the brand that has continuously been credited with “breaking the internet” should be well acquainted with right now. This season, however, it wasn’t Coperni that quite literally broke, if not the internet, at least Instagram, it was Miu Miu – and for good reason.  

Miu Miu FW24 Credits: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

Miu Miu, forever the little sister to Prada though by no means less powerful, blended childhood with adulthood this season, resulting in a quirky mix of garments, combining ladylike attire with teenage experimentation. Cocktail dresses, extravagant furs, pearls and prim cap-sleeves, Mary Janes as well as woollen stockings met mini hemlines, jeans, and shoes reminiscent of Doc Martens, but the concept did not end there. The casting ranged from familiar faces of models such as Gigi Hadid and Vittoria Ceretti to maturer women like actresses Kirstin Scott Thomas and Ángela Molina, underlining that Miu Miu ultimately isn’t just for the girls, but for women, much like Signora Prada herself. 

While the roughly two-hour long Instagram outage that left users unable to use the Meta-owned social media platform was most likely unrelated to fashion week, or Miu Miu, perhaps a break from the overwhelming amount of content after a record-breaking 108 shows in a little under ten days was just what the doctor ordered at the end of an extensive finale for Fashion Month in the ‘big four’.

Paris Fashion Week