McQueen, Hermes and a poignant tribute to Vivienne Westwood at Paris Fashion Week

If fashion weeks are all about disruption, it was a busy day at Paris Fashion Week. In a frenzy of emotion, widower and co-designer Vivienne Westwood introduced the first collection since her death in December; while Hermes geared up for an elegant rebellion, and Coperni glimpsed a future with robot dogs on the catwalk.


The designer duo of the French brand Coperni, Sebastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant, proved that they can win the headlines during the crowded Paris Fashion Week.

Last season, the couple became popular with the spray-painted dress of model Bella Hadid, who merged technology and fashion in an instant. This season, that narrative continued, realized as another moment of Internet outage: sending robot dogs to the runway.

The five cyberdogs, all apparently named Spot, were created by Boston Dynamics, a tech company that has publicly stated that its robots and drones will never be armed. As the models walked, robo-dogs with disturbing, glowing green eyes roamed around, eventually interacting with their human companions, coming face to face with one model before helping her remove her coat from the blanket before giving it back to her.

While this show wasn’t something out of Skynet’s dystopian nightmares, the arrival of robots on the catwalk certainly marks a new era for technology that may one day just replace us all.

Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen fall/winter 2023 knitted top and leather mini skirt. Photo: Alexander McQueen

With a legacy of subversion and elegant defiance, Alexander McQueen looked back at the core of the fashion house for Fall/Winter 2023. Founded in tailor-made excellence Saville Row, where founder Alexander Lee McQueen honed his fashion teeth, Creative Director Sarah Burton returned to it as a reminder in due course time with sharp cutting skills at home. Calmly building on this unique know-how, Burton offered a parade of streamlined suits, crisp white shirts and striped fabrics reworked into stark dresses.

Soft traces of tailor’s chalk created stripes on the sharp-shoulder coat, while traditional pinstripe jackets were removed and then reconstructed into clever dresses.

There was soft leather, tucked into the twisted neckline of a red corset dress, and tucked into the soft folds of a floppy-shouldered purple coat. More tailoring emerged as the black wool cloak was stripped down and made into a cape with a high collar extending past the jawline.

There was no shortage of trumpets that added a decadent glow, such as a fitted dress with a sensual cutout across the body and a silver dress with three-dimensional forms, allegedly inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of anatomy. In a beautifully terrifying twist, the sinuous shapes moving across the dress were jeweled versions of the muscles that lie beneath our skin.


Hermes Fall/Winter 2023 has updated the iconic Birkin bag with new straps.  AP

As one of the fashion exceptions, Hermes has never been into chasing trends, instead always going to the beat of his own song, except now of course everyone else is catching up with this mischievous, independent thinking.

Against this backdrop, Hermes continues as before with a show filled with soft, loose and wonderfully relaxed products in rich autumnal tones that slowly progress from rust red to greyish brown through dark chocolate and ocher.

Using surfaces as an accent, for example, a russet knitted sweater was teamed with a metallic pleated pencil skirt in the same shade, while a ribbed knit dress appeared under a brushed cashmere sleeveless vest. A taffeta shirt and matching chocolate brown shorts were offset with brown suede over-the-knee boots.

Elsewhere, an oatmeal cashmere top was worn with an ivory coat of heavily shorn sheepskin. There was a mustard-colored trench coat with a quilted hem, a nod to the house’s equestrian roots, while an olive-gray leather ensemble was worn with a heavy scarf wrapped in braids.

In short, it was a classic Hermes, designed for people in high heels and made with the highest level of savoir-faire, which is exactly what we all expect from this two-story French house.

Vivienne Westwood

A tight, lace-up corset worn over a skirt made of upholstery fabric, at the Vivienne Westwood fall/winter 2023 show in Paris.  AFP

As the first collection since Westwood herself died last December, it was always intended to be an emotional affair, and the show presented by her widower and co-designer, Andreas Kronthaler, was an ode to his wife’s fearlessness.

In 68 looks, Kronthaler dug through the archives of the house he’d been a part of since he married Westwood in 1992. Although a designer himself, he has become increasingly involved with the house over the last few years as Westwood has laid out his succession.

The collection went through the defining codes that made its name – namely punk, through a finger knit dress and a spiked dog collar; the pirate era, seen here as clashing patterns – worn by former muse Sarah Stockbridge, floaty tops, pantaloons and famous buckle boots; to new iterations of the 1987 “Stature of Liberty” corset, now tight lacing on curtain fabric skirts and sparkling satin. Plaid jackets, asymmetric skirts, alligators, and a gorgeous coat with matching hat abounded, while deconstructed tailoring was the backbone of the collection.

As the last collection Westwood had a hand in, this show was very much about her. But as the first victim as the sole trustee of the house, Kronthaler conjured up a touching and often beautiful tribute to the woman who had been a part of his life for more than 30 years.

Updated: March 5, 2023, 16:00

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