The theme of Paris Fashion Week this season has been somewhat of a returning to fashion's purpose. After a particularly buzzy past few seasons, where many brands focussed on tricky sets and celebrity appearances, Fall Winter 23 has brought back a sense of quiet confidence. Perhaps it's the season talking – after all, the colder months are often about inward reflection and thoughtfulness. Perhaps we're all just collectively fed up with theatrics that don't actually say something, especially if they detract from the quality of the clothes. This was acutely felt at Louis Vuitton's Fall Winter 23 show, where, in the Musée d'Orsay, on a raised platform meant to look like the cobbled streets or the floor of the old railway station, models walked silently to a soundscape of intermittent hurried footsteps, police sirens, the violin, cellphone ringtones, thunderstorms, and more.
They were the sounds of Paris (one can only presume), and they communicated Nicolas Ghesquière's Fall Winter 23 vision perfectly. Close your eyes and you're transported there, on the corner of Rue Du Bac looking out over the Seine, that perfect overcast Paris light illuminating hot breath and the cigarette smoke of a passerby. It was a collection that both questioned and pointed to the definition of French style. What is it? Why is the world fascinated by it? Mostly, it is an ineffable concept for only those who know to understand, but here, in the halls of d'Orsay to the sounds of metropolitan French life, Ghesquière offers a glimpse into the secret of French style.
Ghesquière is best known for his technical and sci-fi approach to ready to wear, however for Fall Winter 23, it felt as though he took a softer approach to his usual tricks, especially with the French woman in mind. This did not mean he wasn't full of clever high-tech ideas though. There were Phantom of The Opera sunglasses illuminated with neon lights and coats that appeared to be wool but were apparently actually embossed and printed leather. There were jeans that looked pinstripe, but featured hand-painted lines that were then stitched over with sequins. In terms of more classic offerings, waists were cinched in with long, thin belts that were knotted off and trailed past the knee; there were slouchy overcoats and blazers with trousers that swept the floor, all very Parisian woman on the go.
Evening offerings were strappy beaded slip dresses with bulky wool scarves and geometric velvet bustiers. For accessories, the design team leant into the "Frenchness" of it all. There were Tricolore leather gloves in blue, red, and white, alongside quilted GO 14 shoulder bags of the same patriotic combination. One piece of luggage was designed to look like a miniature version of the Brand's Place Vendôme flagship, while another crossbody case was modelled after a Parisian street sign. There were knee-high and ankle boots that felt reminiscent of the Victorian button boots that date back to Louis Vuitton's founding years, and chunky, strappy, patent wedges.
For someone who has been shaping the very definition of French style, at a House who has had one of the biggest hands in the game for decades, it is interesting to witness how Ghesquière perceives the French woman (or man), and the way they dress. There are elements there, that the internet will always predict. All loose hair and oversized shoulders and interesting peeks for skin. But what he points to with Fall Winter 23 – and this is perhaps due to his hand in the matter – is that French women and French style is not so easily boiled down. They are as much concerned with trends as they are with defining the French look, which is to say, not concerned at all. What they are concerned with? That's up to them to weigh in on, but from where we're looking at Ghesquière's point of view, its in strong shapes, classic lines, fabrications that are more than meets the eye, and a sense of confidence that cannot be bought.
Watch the full Louis Vuitton Fall Winter 23 show, below.