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Paris Fashion Week highlights Renaissance art, eco-tanning

PARIS (AP) — From Renaissance art to couture and celebrity interruptions, Paris Fashion Week shows continued in vibrant form — presenting the French capital's final trends for fall-winter 2023-2024.
A model wears a creation as part of the Rick Owens Fall/Winter 2023-2024 ready-to-wear collection presented Thursday, March 2, 2023 in Paris. (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

PARIS (AP) — From Renaissance art to couture and celebrity interruptions, Paris Fashion Week shows continued in vibrant form — presenting the French capital's final trends for fall-winter 2023-2024.

Here are some highlights of ready-to-wear collections Thursday:


The once-street and urban Matthew M. Williams uttered a word not often heard describing his designs: Elegant.

“Yes, I love elegance and the house is a very elegant house. It’s easy to find that way when you’re here,” he said following his fall show for the Parisian stalwart.

Find it this season he did. Williams went back to Hubert de Givenchy’s DNA and moved in a more fluid, gentle and feminine direction than previous seasons. It was a fresh, welcome evolution from his harder-edged aesthetic.

Menswear tailoring in black angular shouldered gowns and coats provided subtle contrasts against feminine touches, such as sheer chiffon that poked out underneath caressing a naked leg.

Another sheer gown in pink chiffon with long fluttering train exposed hints of nipples and buttocks.

“I love that breath of air and skin and fluidity,” he said. “There’s always a dialogue with both, but the women’s is much more feminine (this season).”

Pieces were taken direct from the archive, such as a fish motif that the house founder once created, and Givenchy’s famed atelier made multiple couture garments including shimmering metal dresses, as well as evening gowns with off-kilter dropped or raised waists.

Beyond the fashion, Williams — an erstwhile collaborator with Kanye West and Lady Gaga — brings with him the razzmatazz that likely helped him get the job.

Jared Leto interrupted an interview with The Associated Press, exuberantly exclaiming: “Genius! Parfait! Beautiful. The best! And you can quote me.”


Fall saw Gabriela Hearst growing in creative confidence with her beautiful and thoughtful Chloe display that riffed on the Renaissance.

Inspired by Artemisia Gentileschi, the pioneering 17th-century female painter, flattering scooped out shoulder details, long thick statement coats and flared textured pants were among standout garments that felt at once modern and historic — emanating a quiet feminist power.

The baroque musing was handled with subtlety. A giant A-line puffer cape in ruffled Elizabethan segments came in restrained and contemporary black. While harlequin-style gowns came in just three colors — black, white and muted red – toying with color blocking.

The piece de resistance?

An eye-popping multicolored tapestry dress with sporty straps that was constructed of fabulous paneled images. The tapestry was inspired by Gentileschi’s painting “Esther before Ahasuerus,” the house said, and made by Mumbai’s Chanakya International embroidery studio that provides hand embroidery training for women from low-income communities. Its vibrancy also evoked the Modernist paintings hanging above the venue at the Pompidou Center’s National Museum of Modern Art.

Champagne-sipping stars such as Emma Roberts applauded from the front row.


For fall, Rick Owens traveled again to the ancient world, specifically to the former pharaonic stronghold in the modern Egyptian city of Luxor. Yet the lauded American designer-cum-philosopher said the misery of the Ukraine war also influenced his collection.

“Times like these might call for a respectful formality and sobriety, with moments of delicacy as reminders of what is at risk and at stake,” he explained. Therefore, “clothes have been reduced to the simplest of shapes,” he added.

Fall proved that there’s simple, and then there’s Rick Owens simple. There was indeed an ancient rawness to slashed gowns, draped asymmetrically to reveal bare skin, in the collection of black and disco sheen.

A gargantuan inflated doughnut shape ticked the creative box and almost defied descriptions. It appeared in heavy rotation across the shoulder or on the front like a mouth devouring the chest. The shape also appeared doubled up in complex form in sequined violet and tan.

It was an effective and eclectic fusion of contemporary art and ready-to-wear.

Owens also deserves praise for his eco-efforts. The leather in this collection was prepared through “veg tanning,” meaning that only vegetal and natural tannins were used in the process of tanning and preserving the leather.


And where would Paris Fashion Week be without its parties?

Thursday's installment was for the launch of Valentino's Born In Roma Intense fragrance, which saw armies of VIPs descend on the ornate Gaite Lyrique in Paris' Marais.

Under a décor of real forest branches, guests took photos of themselves in kaleidoscope contraptions, posed by giant strobe V staging, drank champagne and got made up by professional make up artists in preparation for a performance by Christine and the Queens.


The brand sometimes known as the “Chinese Hermes” among fashion insiders put out a wearable and loose collection for fall in pastels with flashes of black.

Creative director Yang Li of the brand launched in 2009, which also boasts Hermes investment, has a simple and effective approach.

Ties and knots created dynamic but gentle ruching in fabrics, alongside oversize red sweater-skirts that sported another skirt nonchalantly flapping out from underneath.

Backless and heel-less pointed leather stilettos were one of many fashion forward moments in a collection that gained power from not trying too hard.

Thomas Adamson, The Associated Press