Paris Fashion Week: Everything You Need to Know
Photo courtesy of © CHANEL Spring/Summer 2023 Haute Couture Show
A time-honored and highly anticipated tradition in the creative world, Fashion Week is the time of year when journalists, celebrities, and various influencers gather from around the world to get a firsthand look at the trends that will come to define the next season’s signature looks. Presented by a company’s creative director, the Fashion Week show – or défilé de mode – represents the debut of a brand’s ready-to-wear pieces that clients will find in the next season’s collection. Over time, however, these shows have evolved well beyond a mere presentation of clothes on models… they are now full-on theatrical productions.
Fashion Week may sometimes feel more like Fashion Month… and that’s because it often is. In fact, there are official Fashion Weeks happening every month from January to September in a handful of cities around the world. But Paris takes the cake in the sheer number and variety of shows, dedicating additional weeks throughout the year to feature menswear and haute couture collections in addition to the semi-annual fall/winter and spring/summer ready-to-wear shows.
While each week is always exciting and generates considerable buzz in the design universe, the Fashion Week going on now in the City of Lights (from September 25th to October 3rd) is perhaps the most monumental of them all.
As the calendar goes, the September shows kick off in New York City, then promptly move along a tight schedule to London, Milan, and finally, Paris. Undeniably the fashion capitals of the world, each city typically hosts the shows of the major couture brands who hail from that country. So, naturally, the “grand finale” of the spring/summer 2024 presentations – as well as of the year of fashion shows – features some of the biggest names in the game including Christian Dior, Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, and so on. The most coveted show each year is arguably that of Chanel, whose performance is rarely anything short of marvelous.
*Closing out the year of fashion shows, be sure to tune in to Chanel’s show on Tuesday, October 3, at 10:30 a.m. Paris time. You can also see the list of all Paris Fashion Week shows and times with links to the livestreams here.
Each day from morning to night, brands large and small host fashion shows at locations all around Paris. Repurposing public landmarks, which lend a recognizable backdrop, has become a popular approach by the country’s renowned heritage brands who want their shows to transmit the essence of their French heritage. We’ve seen examples of this practice this year in shows by the likes of Saint Laurent, who set up their stage in front of the Eiffel Tower, and by Christian Dior which constructed an enclosed catwalk in the Jardin des Tuileries.
You will also find up-and-coming designers like Marie Adam-Leenaerdt and Peter Do, who kicked off the first two days of Paris fashion week with less emphasis on the backdrop so that all eyes were on the apparel. This younger generation of designers, which hails from around the globe, sees Paris principally as a prestigious international stage, so they want to make the most of the opportunity to shine a spotlight on their work.
Beyond the shows themselves, there is, of course, all the glitz and glamor that happens before and after the curtains are drawn. Prior to the waltz down the runway, celebrities line the red carpet turning this way and that to the demands of omnipresent photographers. Popular figures in fashion and culture walk across the streets of Paris swarmed by the cameras and smartphones of passersby hoping to snap a glimpse of the spectacle. At night, those in the know are invited to champagne-filled parties to celebrate the months of hard work and preparation that went into the assembly of the fashion and grand presentation.
Finally, don’t forget to watch out for the smattering of eccentrically dressed trendsetters and impossibly chic individuals who descend on the fashionable districts like le Marais and Madeleine, nonchalantly putting on a public show. During this week, these average citizens of the world arrive in Paris and take to the streets as if it is their own runway, hoping to be snapped by a prominent photographer who may feature them in their next street style report – or maybe even ask them whose designs they are wearing….
Without a doubt, Paris Fashion Week is among the most enchanting and ephemeral moments of the year whose magic and allure lingers in the air and then vanishes until the spotlight and the paparazzi return for the next edition. These events inspire not only the millions of onlookers tuning in to broadcasts of the shows from around the world, but also galvanize the next generation of designers and creatives, challenging them to think outside the catwalk.