From skydiving models to meme fashion, everything you missed from Paris Haute Couture Week

There was a real sense of opulence and creativity at the shows, says Prudence Wade.

Chanel's Haute Couture fashion show
Chanel's Haute Couture fashion show

Paris Haute Couture Week felt like a sea change. After over a year of the fashion industry being blighted by Covid most of the shows were held in person, and it was almost like a return to normality.

Couture promises escapism. The outfits are extremely expensive, one of a kind, and you have to be invited by the Chambre Syndicale to present a collection. It’s not really an opportunity for fashion houses to set trends or show us what we might be wearing this season, but rather a chance to go all-out in design and creativity.

With extreme fashion, famous models and quirky beauty choices, this couture week had it all…

Sky-high hair at Giambattista Valli

Giambattista Valli brought Sixties-inspired absurdism into its beauty looks, with models wearing comically high beehives. As for the collection itself, it’s everything we’ve come to expect from the Italian fashion house: frothy tulle dresses, pastel colours and a ‘more is more’ approach.

Balenciaga returns to couture

Showing its first couture collection in over 50 years, all eyes were on Balenciaga. Designer Demna Gvasalia presented a confident, chic collection – full of sharp monochromatic tailoring, oversized coat dresses in bold colours and even (gasp) jeans. It’s much more minimalist and utilitarian than you normally see from couture, and celebs were out in force: Kanye West and Bella Hadid were in the audience, and Vice President Kamala Harris’ stepdaughter Ella Emhoff was a model.

Balenciaga’s collection really had the high fashion seal of approval – fellow designer Marc Jacobs has commented on many of the outfits on Instagram with words like “magical”, “divine” and “chic”.

Margaret Qualley as a bride at Chanel

Every Chanel haute couture show ends with a bride walking down the catwalk – and this season, creative director Virginie Viard tapped actor and daughter of Andie MacDowell, Margaret Qualley for the role. She wore a stunning pale pink, long-sleeved gown with puffed sleeves, and a delicate veil with multi-coloured accents.

High drama at Schiaparelli

Schiaparelli is all about subverting fashion expectations, and this show was no different. Full of surreal glamour, there were matador-inspired outfits, gowns with long trains, and massive statement flowers. This was all accented with armour-like pieces of gold, from shiny nipples to metal hands clutching at the models.

Skydiving at Iris van Herpen

While many of the major fashion houses took advantage of in person fashion shows, Iris van Herpen stuck to the digital format.

The Dutch designer pushes the boundaries and uses technology in new and exciting ways, doing things differently to everyone else. For the show’s big finale, world champion skydiver Domitille Kiger wore an ethereal blue and white gown – while jumping out of a plane.

Viktor & Rolf bring meme fashion

Never one to take fashion too seriously, Viktor & Rolf celebrated ‘the new royals’ in its collection. Think tiaras, luxurious furs, and pageant-style sashes saying things like, ‘Royal pain in the ass’, and, ‘Don’t be a drag just be a queen’.

Rain stops play for Pyer Moss

This week was set to be historic as it marked the first time a black American – Kerby Jean-Raymond of brand Pyer Moss – was invited by the Chambre Syndicale to present during couture week. However, a freak rainstorm in New York (where the show was taking place) meant it was called off at the last minute.

We’ll have to wait a bit longer to see Jean-Raymond’s take on couture – the show has been rescheduled to July 10, with some tickets released to the public.

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