This week, the Spring/Summer 2024 Haute Couture collections premiered at Paris Fashion Week. The French fashion designers in particular seemed to be moving in different ways towards some common themes, so I decided to break down some of the major runway shows from French fashion houses at PFW to predict what trends you should expect in the coming year.
Designer Maria Grazia Chiuri shines when it comes to well-tailored pieces, but this year’s collection looked so well-tailored, it was almost Ann Taylor. Nearly all of her models looked like they were headed to the office, in chic workwear sets in gray wool or khaki. Occasionally this look was interspersed with dresses that I can only describe as grandma chic meets coquette. Black hair ribbons and pearl necklaces were par for the course, and necklines were either high and modest or cut in striking deep V’s. There were lots of open-toed wedge shoes, and nearly everything was made from silky moire fabric, giving the pieces a subtle shimmer as the models moved down the runway. Most of the gowns were simple and well-made, but not too exciting, and seemed built for the quiet luxury hive.
We saw a lot of classic Chanel in this show, with a bit of a twist: tweed suits embellished with sheer white tulle skirts, sometimes in lieu of a full skirt, sometimes peeking out through a slit down the front of the dress, and sometimes bursting out the bottom of a skirt like a fabric explosion. This motif culminated with a final bridal look that was more veil than dress. There were also several delightful tulle harlequin collars, and the models were all dressed in opaque white tights and bodysuits with strappy black open-toed heels. The bodysuits were a bit of a bizarre touch, and made it look like the models were trying on their clothes in a dressing room over their underclothes. There were a few other odd fashion moments, including a silver sequined jacket over a full-length tulle skirt that felt jarringly early-2000s, and inexplicably made me think of Hilary Duff’s A Cinderella Story. It was all very girly and shimmery and, again, coquette. Also—more black hair ribbons! The whole thing had a vaguely Victorian/Poor Things aesthetic that I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of this year.
If you don’t want to watch the entire runway show, you might enjoy the short film Chanel produced in conjunction with it, starring Margaret Qualley (The Leftovers), and scored by Kendrick Lamar.
If Virginie Viard decided to tap into balletic daydreams for Chanel, Simone Rocha took Gaultier to the darker side of girlish fantasy with a fairytale-inspired collection. The looks pulled style references from the late-18th century of Marie Antoinette through the Victorian era, with panniers and elaborate lacing that evoke the anachronistic-yet-iconic gowns of Disney princesses, in a white-or-black color palette with plenty of sheer fabric, tulle, and flowing ribbons. Many of the models wore clear plastic shoes and carried silver roses, and had rhinestones covering their eyebrows or lips, in a high fashion interpretation of certain Gen Z makeup trends. Pale pink satin looks with pointy, upturned brassieres, and fairytale gowns with lingerie details like loose garter straps, created a fascinating contrast between the sensual and the uncanny. As with Chanel, we got a bridal look that seems to be just about all-tulle.
This really is the year of sheer. Maison Margiela got real weird with this delightfully bizarre show, housed in a Parisian cave and a poorly-lit alleyway under an overpass. Margiela’s parade of sheer black gowns over corsets, showing off every part of the models (and I mean every part) was giving off Les Mis cosplay. We saw more exaggerated hips (Could wide hips finally be in? A girl can dream…), and Gibson Girl-esque hourglass silhouettes that were so dramatic as to be nearly grotesque. Ripped stockings and yet more pearl accessories rounded out the looks, as well as hairdos reminiscent of a Toulouse-Lautrec illustration or an off-off-Broadway Mrs. Lovett. The men staggered down the runway, clutching oversized coats, bandit masks pushed up on their foreheads under flat caps, flashes of corsetry being revealed under their coats from time to time. The glazed faces of the models, and their jerky, staggering movements, presented them as marionettes in a twisted performance.
Paris Fashion Week Trends for Spring/Summer 2024 Haute Couture
Clearly, dopamine dressing is out this year. I don’t know if it’s the influence of quiet luxury or that we just got tired of chartreuse (thank god), but it looks like we’re headed back to neutrals… or at least seeing neutral skin through see-through netting. Ribbons, sheer fabric, and tulle are going to come back in some interesting ways this year, as we dive head first into guilt-free re-imaginings of girlhood. If the recent popularity of Lana Del Rey’s Skims ad campaign proved nothing else, it’s that the girlies want a little romance, a touch of the frou-frou, and we’re not going to apologize for it.
In fact, I think the maximalist, vintage-inspired looks from Paris Fashion Week might even go so far as to spur a renaissance of the early-aughts Circus-Core era. I’m talking about the vaguely steampunk, Moulin Rouge-influenced fashion popularized by bands like Panic at the Disco and The Killers. Since Y2K fashion has already had its resurgence, I think it might be time to bring back corsets and tutus as daywear and ribbons as necklaces. If Poor Things could do it, why can’t we?
Catherine Rickman is a writer, professional Francophile, and host of the Expat Horror Stories podcast. She is currently somewhere in Brooklyn with a fork in one hand and a pen in the other, and you can follow her adventures on Instagram @catrickman, or on TikTok @catinthekitchen.