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Paris Fashion Week Gets Serious with Saint Laurent, Dior, and More

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Paris Fashion Week Gets SeriousPhoto: Filippo Fior / Gorunway.com

Lately, I keep thinking about a line from Succession. During one of the last episodes of the HBO series’ final season, patriarch Logan Roy begrudgingly meets his kids inside of a karaoke bar and, after another tense and tragic negotiation, says, “I love you, but you are not serious people.” Call me pragmatic but, as much as I love some weirdness and fashion fantasy, this declaration has rung true for more than a few runway looks this season. I can’t even count the amount of bum-baring shorts I’ve seen in New York, London, and Milan, and the same goes for micro miniskirts. That’s all well and good for some women, but what are the rest of us supposed to wear? To the designers I admire who are slashing hems and overcomplicating silhouettes: I love you, but you are not serious people.

That’s not to say that daring, impractical dress is always a bad thing. We need dreams and big ideas, too. But there has to be a middle ground between entirely unwearable and depressingly quiet luxury. Only days into Paris Fashion Week, it feels like designers have found an equilibrium between extreme boldness and a more approachable badassery. It’s been a welcome treat of real, wearable clothes that, in their simplicity, pack a punch.

First up was Vaquera, a conceptual New York–based brand with an extremely unserious DNA that has been evolving into something much more palatable to the fashion customer. This season, designers Patric DiCaprio and Bryn Taubensee thought about the concept of exposure—the ways we are constantly bombarded with cameras and how we try either to hide from it all or to embrace it. Their collection was a tactful blend of pieces to make you stand out or disappear, like a leg-baring trench coat bodysuit against a simple black belted suit vest and matching trouser. There was a furry blob-shaped dress with no sleeves, but there was also a sophisticated strapless marble-print gown. DiCaprio and Taubensee proved you can indeed have crazy fun, get buck wild, but also give us something tangible to put in the checkout cart.

vaquera
VaqueraCourtesy of Imaxtree

Another designer who walked that line was newcomer Ellen Hodakova, from Stockholm. Hodakova’s designs are certainly provocative—see the floor-length gown made entirely out of hanging pens—but they also offer range. A column skirt with hemlines made to look like trouser waists was cool, as was the long double-breasted and pinstriped suit coat. While she’s still leaning more toward the conceptual, there were spots of sellable, wearable clothes, pieces that proved Hodakova is one to watch.

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HodakovaFilippo Fior

Peter Do, a designer who has been called just that for several years, added a welcome pump-up to the season with his show. After debuting his collection for Helmut Lang in New York, Do brought his fan-favorite tailoring to Paris (as well as several covetable looks from his upcoming line for Banana Republic). He is ambitious and knows how good he is, and he’s making clothes for women who are equally motivated. His designs are for someone who knows exactly what she wants and will do anything to get it, but don’t call her Shiv Roy. There’s nothing quiet or dull about Do’s work, especially this season, when he’s experimenting with draping, color blocking, and cropping. With officewear, he is changing the game in the best way possible. Shifts and skirt suits be damned—his staples include a fluid white one-shouldered dress with a transparent red panel placed at the bust and beautifully cut trousers with slits down the front. Strong, but not intimidating, this is a spring collection that blends business with aplomb.

peter do
Peter DoPaolo Lanzi

Maria Grazia Chiuri has always made feminism the core of her vision at Dior, but this season in particular—after a summer that filled our Instagram feeds with friendship bracelets, silver sequined cowboy hats, and Barbie pink—it felt like something we needed. For spring 2024, the designer drew inspiration from unconventional women in history and partnered with artist Elena Bellantoni, whose video installations highlighting sexist advertising appeared on giant screens throughout the runway space. The striking contrast between Chiuri’s monochrome palette and the neon pink and yellow of the artwork, which was titled Not Her, gave weight to a collection meant to showcase how subtle but beautifully made clothes can act as suits of armor.

christian dior
Christian DiorCourtesy of Imaxtree

Saint Laurent was on a similar plane, and when I say plane, I mean that literally: Anthony Vacarello referenced Amelia Earhart, among other historical women, and for a moment, we heard a few notes from “Take My Breath Away.” Sound cheesy? It really wasn’t. Nor were the direct touchbacks to Yves Saint Laurent’s Safari collection from 1968. In a slight pivot for Vacarello—who loves the color black, tight silhouettes, and feisty hemlines—this lineup of classics was nicely executed. It was nostalgic, but it also felt modern, like the kind of safari jacket someone could easily wear with, say, a pair of Vaquera’s trousers or one of Hodakova’s skirts.

While Vacarello’s more simplistic approach could be viewed as too straightforward, that would be ignoring the power in what he’s done. He found a way to balance the bold with the approachable, evident in the pairing of high-waisted cargos with transparent long-sleeved tops, and the show-closing draped and pleated gowns that exposed just a hint of the body. We live in a world of harsh extremes, and our brains have been trained to either want way more or way less, to be on one end of the spectrum of something or the other. Sometimes, as some of the designers in Paris are already proving, there is a lot of merit in making clothes to feel strong in, to be seriously stylish in, and to help us get up and go and take flight.

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Saint LaurentCourtesy of Saint Laurent

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