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Fall 2023 Couture Week Day 4: Artistic Expression and to Tech or not to Tech
Highlights from the final day of Fall 2023 Couture Week in Paris
Kim Jones’s collection for Fendi Fall 2023 Couture encapsulated the vibe of the week: classic, versatile, and understated.
The Fendi show on Thursday in Paris closed what was, with a few exceptions, a subdued yet consistent Fall-Winter 2023-24 Couture Week. It was almost as if fashion has had enough of the marketing noise and was trying to get back to business, focusing on what it does best in producing beautiful, covetable garments that people want to wear.
This is not to say that the Couture Week was absent of its shock-and-awe moments. But even those moments were regal and elegantly theatrical. The most memorable moment arguably was the couture debut of Thom Browne at the Palais Garnier earlier in the week. Browne’s collection delivered on all its anticipated hype and then some, cultivating a new vision for what American couture could look like through a wildly imaginative lens that only he could envision. The show was theatre-in-a-theatre, literally about as cohesive and narrative as you can get, even down to the reversal of the positioning of the attendees and the actors between the stage and audience.
On the conceptual side, there also were Schiaparelli and Iris van Herpen, each bringing their own unique vision and artisanship to play with collections that embodied the essence of haute couture without any of the controversy of previous collections (aka no Schiaparelli animals).
Among the big maisons, Couture Week was all about core brand values, showcasing the foundational vision and craftsmanship of the brands with highly marketable, wearable collections from Chanel all the way to Elie Saab and Balenciaga.
Maybe we’ve spent too much time in the Web3 space. But the entire idea of technology felt curiously absent from Fall 2023-24 Couture Week. This is not to say that futurism was absent from Couture Week but it was not the main focus as it has been in previous seasons. Iris van Herpen, a well-known pioneer of 3D-printed designs, who has in the past expressed a great deal of interest in the future of digital fashion, focused her “Architectonics” concept on circularity and sustainability rather than technology itself. Similarly, Balenciaga’s 3D-printed armored suit was contextualized as a defensive position rather than any sort of futuristic vision. Even the venues themselves felt more purposefully traditional, with many designers eschewing more fanciful sets in favor of a more white-walled salon approach.
Fall 2023 Couture felt like a solid reminder of what defines haute couture and why it is important in fashion: the visionary creative design, the handmade, carefully crafted workmanship of its artisans, and the sheer imaginativeness of its narrative conception. Say what you will about the superfluousness of fashion but the art of haute couture matters, particularly in a world that so often can feel devoid of beauty and meaning.
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