Mar 6, 2023
This weekend, Paris Fashion Week once again afforded the opportunity for discovering highly intriguing, diverse collections for the Fall/Winter 2023-24, whether from established labels like Lanvin, or emerging ones gradually asserting themselves, such as Ester Manas, Ottolinger and Atlein. They unveiled different ways of expressing the idea of femininity, in turns sexy, inclusive, elegant, minimalist, mythical and futuristic.
Creative director Bruno Sialelli chose the Collège des Bernardins, with its medieval arched ceilings, for the Lanvin show. A fine idea, since the venue’s austere, unfussy Cistercian architecture resonated ideally with the sophisticated, minimalist collection Sialelli has designed for next winter.
A wardrobe centred around a handful of essentials, in a judiciously calibrated mix of tailored items and more fluid ones, of day and evening wear, of matte and glossy finishes. The dresses glided on the skin. They were draped in the front, but open up in the back with a thin row of golden spherical buttons. Other items, sleeveless and more fitted, made in sequins or wool, afforded a glimpse of the bra. The allure was emphasised by endlessly long, high-heeled leather boots moulded to the legs, and glamorous opera gloves, while some of the outfits had head coverings to match.
The lines were sharp. Especially for everyday clothes: mini-skirt suits with mid-length jackets, dark trousers matched with sober tone-on-tone shirts and ties, and the statement overcoats, all impeccably cut, made in wool, shaggy fur, shearling and crocodile leather.
Frills were scarce, except for a scattering of arums majestically adorning one or two dresses, for the crystal-like flowers stitched on other models, and for polka dots, in ruby-coloured velvet on draped togas, embedded like glass tears in knitted sets, or studded on to dresses, boots and coats. Some of the looks, for men and women both, were bolder, with Lycra jumpsuits worn under a coat, oversize hooded sweaters, and flashes of salmon pink.
Ester Manas celebrates all brides
Religious hymns amplify the audience’s hubbub inside Paris’s American church, with its huge organ and colourful stained-glass windows. Ester Manas was celebrating a wedding. It was indeed an anticipation of the eponymous designer’s wedding with her partner Balthazar Delepierre, scheduled for next summer. As Delepierre said backstage, “we were thinking about the moodboard for our own wedding, when the theme of the collection became obvious to us: a dream wedding! It’s a very personal collection,” he added.
For such a special event, the bride, as is customary, was wearing white, a bouquet of flowers in her hand or a rose attached to her stocking’s suspender. The dresses were gathered or frilled, and some were a cascade of lace, most of it recycled. Wedding dresses were featured in long, short or asymmetrical versions. Some were enhanced with a tulle veil twirling down the back, or a train. Fastenings, technical materials, lace decorations and distinctive squared gathers allowed the garments to envelop the body in natural fashion.
As always with Ester Manas, which has made inclusivity its hallmark thanks to a broad range of sizes and smart garments suited to as many shapes as possible, the mood was strictly sexy. The brides shoulders and belly were exposed. They flaunted daring sheer effects and cut-outs, allowing glimpses of chic, alluring underwear, produced this season by Chantelle. The happy brides, their bridesmaids and guests were all extremely elegant in Louboutin heels and silvery thigh-high boots with the iconic red soles.
Passion red was also the colour of several party outfits, as was blue, black, flesh-pink and caramel, featured notably in trousers sets with undulating, corolla-style edges. Some bodycon outfits were made in ribbed knitwear blended with lace. Colourful flamenco-style ruffles enhanced asymmetrical skirts for a more flamboyant style. It was a highly successful, much appreciated collection.
Ottolinger’s organic aesthetic
Change of scenery at Ottolinger, which invited its audience to a dilapidated building under construction, where clouds of dust billowed as each model walked by. As usual, the label’s designers Cosima Gadient and Christa Bösch looked to the future, creating a style that defies categorisation.
Their wardrobe for next winter consists of skimpy wool outfits (with sweaters, miniskirts, hoodies and bra tops), printed stretch jumpsuits that hug the body, quilted jackets, puffer jackets and trousers, and a series of hybrid dresses and tops made of different materials in abstract shapes, fitted together puzzle-like.
The collection is characterised by Ottolinger’s signature organic aesthetic, as well as by experimental work on fabrics and the use of laces, cords and drawstrings to accentuate movement. Some strings worn round the neck and waist were as thick as sausages, while others pierced through the garments like snakes. Tonal jackets were overlaid with harnesses. An array of cut-outs accents the style, which could be described as chaotic.
Atlein’s mythical woman
The statuesque models had an innate elegance at Atlein, where Antonin Tron explored the myth of womanhood this season. He drew his inspiration from the bas-reliefs of antiquity, working chiefly with draped lines, like a sculptor. Perched on stiletto-heeled sandals and wearing opaque tights, the models strut along like haughty queens, clad in long sheath dresses and vestal outfits, heavy diamond jewellery wrapped around their necks and wrists like coiled serpents.
Jersey, the designer’s fetish fabric, enveloped the body, draped and moulded around it like a second skin. Tron also used stretch tulle, crushed velvet and recycled faux leather. Slits often burst through garments like lightning bolts, down the back, along a shoulder, or the sides.
It is all in the construction. Laces with metal ends were threaded like drawstrings along the garments’ structural lines, allowing the fabric to be gathered at will, along the arms, or the hem at the front of a jacket, for example. Sleeved items like tops, snug bomber jackets and sweaters, were cropped to accent high-waisted trousers and elongate the silhouette.
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