The most spectacular moments from Haute Couture Week AW24

27 Jun 2024 | |By Anna Solomon

Inside the looks and collections coming out of Paris during the most rarefied week in fashion

Paris Haute Couture Week is the annual style spectacle stacked with celebrity cameos, viral moments and, of course, the biggest, best and most jaw-dropping that fashion has to offer. This year, headlines were made by Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner trotting around the Place Vendôme on horseback at Vogue World, which kicked off the week; Avril Lavigne making an appearance at Iris van Herpen; and what was apparently ‘bring your child to Couture Week day’ at Balenciaga, where Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts rocked up with their daughters in tow.

But all the celebrity noise is quieted once the clothes come out. ‘Couture’ is a legally-protected term referring to made-to-order gowns constructed entirely by hand (as well as a host of other specifications which makes it really, really exclusive). Among the cohort of brands that meet the criteria required, the upcoming Paris Olympics seemed to be a source of inspiration: Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Dior collection recalled the silhouettes of Ancient Greece and Thom Browne put a whimsical spin on American sportswear. 

Elsewhere this week we’ve seen nostalgia from Schiaparelli, strides into the future from Armani Privé, and something like treading water from Chanel, which is currently without a creative director. Speaking of which, this season was the swan song of Dries Van Noten’s CD, Van Noten himself, which made for a misty-eyed collection. These are the must-see looks from the most fabulous week in fashion.


For this collection creative director Daniel Roseberry paid homage to the 1950s – the heyday of founder Elsa Schiaparelli. The show was titled ‘The Phoenix’, a reference to her ability to reinvent herself, and was inaugurated by a model wearing a velvet cape embroidered to create a trompe l’oeil ‘wing’ effect. What followed in the chandelier-lit basement of the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild was a foray into the past: satin hoops, bustier gowns and hourglass designs were paraded in the old style of runway, with models emerging at a leisurely pace and making eye contact with the audience. 

It wouldn’t be a Schiaparelli show without a dose of surrealism, which attendees (including devotees of the brand Doja Cat and Kylie Jenner) got in the form of a black party dress, it’s skirt sculpted to look like it had been kicked up in a can-can, exposing a rhinestone-embellished underside. The cups of the bustier of another dress were shaped like high-heeled shoes, while another featured cushioned, three-dimensional ‘thorns’. The collection hit the sweet spot between the phantasmagorical and the seductive, exactly as you would expect from Schiaparelli.



Dior’s collection managed to weave together various threads in a satisfying way: Maria Grazia Chiuri’s reference to the upcoming Olympics through Grecian silhouettes also recalled the brand’s affiliation with the world of sports: her first collection in 2017 was a homage to fencing and, in 2021, she unveiled an athletic-inspired range in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, the home of the first Olympics. This season’s show was staged in the Musée Rodin, a stone’s throw from the Esplanade des Invalides, where some of the Games will be held this summer.

Models appeared like Greek statues, clad in draped gowns, leather belts, gold bangles and gladiator sandals. We also saw a spate of metallic column dresses which we foresee becoming a fixture on red carpets come award season, all against a backdrop of embroidered mosaics depicting women playing sports (on Chiuri’s mood board for this collection, she has said, was a photograph of Alice Milliat, an athlete who lobbied for women to be included in competitive sport at the start of the last century). 


Thom Browne 

Last year, Thom Browne made its Haute Couture Week debut, and this year proved that the namesake designer is no one-trick pony. His second outing in Paris, presented at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, began with a series of male models clad in white skirt suits playing tug-of-war, followed by a parade of sportswear, but muddled up – a bit of a tailored sportscoat here, a swimming trunk spliced with a tennis skirt there. This de- and re-constructed collection was rendered in white muslin, the fabric that couture toiles, or samples, are made from. The garments offered us a glimpse into the construction process, but, don’t get us wrong, these ‘works in progress’ were very much finished – the perfectionist Browne would have it no other way.

The show’s finale featured supermodel Anna Cleveland modelling a bridal gown which can only be described as ‘erupting’ into white flowers at the back, and a ‘medal ceremony’ where gold, silver and bronze embroidered jackets stood on a podium to illustrate that, according to the designer, ‘couture is the Olympics of fashion’.


Dries Van Noten

The absence of Virginie Viard was felt all the more keenly at Chanel for her abrupt exit – the same will not be said for Dries Van Noten, whose final collection was a celebration of his tenure and a meditation on the passage of time. The designer announced his departure from his namesake brand in March. But how would the moment be marked? Models were clad in Van Noten's trademarks: garments that colour clashed and combined prints, yet possessed an overtone of minimalism. References recalled collections of the past: gold embroidery for the men's AW16 show, eccentric suiting as a nod to AW19. The designer invited old faces to model the collection as well as new, underlining his commitment to progress – the reason cited as underpinning his move. 

Van Noten drew inspiration from the work of artist Edith Dekyndt, who’s work centres around objects being transformed by exposure to water, chemicals or air – a rather lovely metaphor for his career. Accordingly, garments felt ‘lived in’, made of worn herringbone, linen and cotton. The designer wanted to create ‘clothes that move through life with us, carrying us forward’, he wrote in the show’s notes.



Opinion has been split on the matter of Chanel’s first collection without a creative director (Viard departed just weeks ago after three decades at the brand, five as creative director), with some insisting that there was no drift and others arguing that the show represented a ship without a rudder. One thing that we can agree on, I think, is that the higher-ups at Chanel felt that it was appropriate to stick with what they know: timeless tweed, neat silhouettes and a general air of well-bred girlishness. There were 12 boucle-tweed suits on show, paired with satin Mary Janes and ponytails tied with black silk bows.

The collection did, however, occasionally adopt a flair for the dramatic, inspired, perhaps, by the theatrical setting of the Palais Garnier: there were feathered sleeves, floor-grazing capes and a bridal look with a sweeping ivory train. ‘Richly embroidered, the collection imbues the House codes with a romantic twist’, the show notes read. Box pleats and white satin trims were accompanied by evening gowns, perhaps hinting at a slightly bolder and less retrospective era for Chanel.


Armani Privè

Designers’ cited inspiration for shows can be a little high-minded, which is why Giorgio Armani’s simple notes for his AW24 collection were so refreshing: he took cues from the beauty of pearls. The 89-year-old founder of his eponymous brand showcased this in a study of texture, moving from lamé tailoring to extraordinary beading, surfaces covered in crystals and bouncing feathered headpieces. Elsewhere, a series of black gowns in velvet or sequins will no doubt prove popular come awards season (a selection of Armani’s famous fans, including Cate Blanchett, Eva Green and Naomie Harris, sat in the front row). 

The overriding theme was playfulness – as well as masterful embellishment of pearls on maxi dresses and the trims of suit jackets, Armani also placed supersized jewels on hats and piled them onto gowns. The collection was titled Haute Couture en Jeu, which can be translated as ‘putting couture into play’ or ‘couture is having fun.’ "Either way," said the designer, "it was time for me to be courageous, to take risks, and to probably be a little less Armani".


Elie Saab

Avril Lavigne and Ellie Goulding were among the VIP attendees at Elie Saab’s couture show at Paris’ Musee des Arts Decoratifs, where the Lebanese designer conjured up a fairytale realm. Scheduled at midnight, the show featured models wearing black leather opera gloves, bodices criss-crossed with sequin spider webs and a dominant colour scheme of red wine, emerald green and black – Gothic style met Victoriana in this ethereal, feminised fantasy.

That said, the designer did also showcase men’s looks – a growing phenomenon at Couture Week – which included capes embroidered to resemble dew-covered foliage. Predominantly, though, it was a story of cascading mesh, dripping beads, pluming necklines, fringe split skirts, and crushed velvet, mesh and lace galore. Saab relied on tried-and-tested silhouettes, including a gorgeous shoulderless gown in ruby, where sequins on the bodice morphed into a cascade of feathers down the mermaid skirt. 


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