Cher appears at the Balmain finale of Paris Fashion Week

PARIS — Paris Fashion Week came to a head on Wednesday with the atmosphere and excitement generated by Balmain’s spectacular Fashion Music Festival — a star-studded benefit concert featuring the latest trends, audience members and performances . This included a final walk from none other than Cher.

Here are some highlights from the Spring/Summer 2023 shows.

CHER AND BAL-MANIA

Olivier Rousteing proved that he was one of the greatest showmen in world fashion by organizing, once again, not a parade but a festival for Balmain which took place in a giant stadium. Of course, Paris Fashion Week‘s biggest celebrity moment had to be landed here — when the designer stepped out at the end arm-in-arm with Cher. The 76-year-old Oscar-winning actress walked the boards all smiles – to the cheers of the crowd – in a marbled spandex bodysuit, plunging neckline, wedge heels and the house’s famous pointed shoulders. “Just had the best time on stage, felt great,” she tweeted shortly after.

Balmain said it was celebrating the best in food, music and fashion in the pop-up village filled with stalls – in the Jean-Bouin stadium in western Paris – more used to hosting rugby matches than spandex suits. Some 10,000 tickets were made available to the general public on condition of making a charitable donation.

REMEMBER BALMAIN WAS A FASHION SHOW

Amid the razzmatazz, some guests can be forgiven for forgetting that the purpose of the event was the clothes. The looks, which merged ready-to-wear with couture, had some memorable moments – the brainchild of Balmain’s design teams searching for organics in the forest.

A unique bustier was created with chestnut bark, while basketry looks were fashioned from bog and grassland materials, all softened in water for an ethnic look.

But this show was also an emotional and cultural exploration for Rousteing himself – someone who has spoken about his adoption and who recently discovered his biological parents were from the Horn of Africa.

“Overall, the African influence is, of course, quite easy to spot,” the designer said. “(The discovery) only intensified my lifelong fascination with the beauty, traditions and designs of this region.”

COURREGES SAND

For Courrèges, a circular sandy track featured a falling column of sand down its center evoking the sands of time – or the movie “Dune”. Quirky and slightly unnerving musical cadences in the soundtrack gave the show a sanitized and uncluttered spirit.

Courrèges has become a brand that touts a signature mood rather than a signature style, and designer Nicolas Di Felice likes to inject atmosphere into his fashion.

Spring-summer fashion began with a crisp white shirt game, with a voluminous shirt dress carrying the simple, sporty vibe well. The models sometimes had bare feet or bare shoes. Di Felice used the runway to bring fashionable twists – snipaways, flip-flops, shiny space materials and deconstruction – on everyday items such as a denim jacket, denim skirt or flared pants. A sporty vest, for example, was given a perverse twist with its transparent materials.

It’s an approach that works well with this generational brand founded in 1961 by André Courrèges and his wife Coqueline, which has become synonymous with space-age aesthetics.

THE ART OF INVITATION

The age of email and growing environmental awareness doesn’t seem to have left much of a mark on the fashion industry‘s antiquated invitation system.

Season after season, energy-hungry couriers criss-cross Paris to personally deliver ever more elaborate, often handmade, invitations.

The big houses compete for the wackiest or most imaginative idea which often bears a clue to the theme of the show’s collection.

For Loewe’s invitation, a bright red tropical flower came through the pole that the floral dictionary identified as an anthurium. To keep the flower alive for the duration of Fashion Week, the bottom of the flower’s stem was attached to a state-of-the-art humidity capsule.

Saint Laurent’s invite, meanwhile, was a chic black patent leather wallet with a metallic “YSL” on top, with the presentation card hidden inside.

DRIES VAN NOTEN LOOSE

The Belgian fashion master was back in shape for spring with a typically nondescript collection that was only seemingly held together by the aesthetics of its looseness.

All-black edgy ensembles — an oversized masculine tuxedo worn over a bare chest or an Asian double-breasted coat — suddenly blossomed into the 64-look collection in shimmering sequins, pastels, then ruffles and florals.

There was a lot of artistic play: a black lace top had ribbing that evoked ribbing, while still looking very Elizabethan. Female models were intentionally chosen for their boyish looks, alongside a myriad of masculine twists on the women’s wardrobe.

The only recurring theme seemed to be softness – the supple layers of fabric, the draped tassels that caressed the warehouse floor, and the generous proportions of puffy sleeves, skirts, and pants.

It was Van Noten, an eccentric, having fun.

UNDERCOVER CUTS IT

It was dressed with a touch of Jun Takahashi’s Undercover brand.

The streetwear-infused Japanese designer has gone crazy this season, lobbing the shoulder of a bright yellow oversized tuxedo, cutting rips from a dressy white shirt, or slashing the sleeves, pants and lapel of a suit on a otherwise sophisticated double-breasted jacket.

As in previous seasons, the Japanese anime felt present. Here, there was a cartoonish vibe in the known double top hairstyles of several of the models.

T-shirts with “Love” and “Dream” emblazoned on them added to the entertainment vibe.

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