Haute Couture Week S/S 2023

Europe’s most storied fashion houses, including Chanel, Dior, and Valentino, showcased their latest collections during haute couture week S/S 2023 in Paris. In addition to feats of craftsmanship (couture gowns are almost entirely handcrafted), flights of imagination, and some of the most dramatic show sets of the season, the week represents the pinnacle of Parisian style.

Liminul rounds up the best of haute couture week S/S 2023, from a Josephine Baker-inspired collection by Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior – replete with set by artist Mickalene Thomas – to a Valentino offering from Pierpaolo Piccioli, celebrating the extravagance and glamour of history’s famed nightspots.

Jean Paul Gaultier

Haider Ackermann, a Colombian designer, was the latest designer invited by Jean Paul Gaultier to create a couture collection, following Chitose Abe of Sacai, Olivier Rousteing of Balmain, and Glenn Martens of Y/Project. This mesmerizing collection was inspired by the traditions of haute couture. It was composed of poetic silhouettes – cocooning opera coats, round-shouldered gowns, expansive bows and hoods – which Ackermann dubbed a return to the purity of haute couture. According to him, sometimes you can become distracted by Jean Paul’s loudness, his music, and his styling, and lose sight of the essence and purity of his work. In the impeccable tailoring (which heavily utilized elements of corsetry, a Gaultier staple), or plunging sliced-away gowns reminiscent of Gaultier’s own eponymous collections, models struck poses reminiscent of historic haute couture salons. Ackermann’s rigorous – and razor-sharp – cut was evident in the models’ striking poses, mimicking the poses of historic haute couture salons.


The Bridge Club, a subway nightclub under Paris’ Pont Alexandre, played host to Pierpaolo Piccioli’s latest haute couture collection. His inspirations included Studio 54, Leigh Bowery’s Taboo, and the Blitz Club, frequented by the New Romantics – references he drew from nightlife past and present. The Italian designer points out that ‘a synergetic, spontaneous language exists between couture and nightclubbing in their embrace of glamour and extravagance’. ‘The notions of clothes as tools of transformation, crafting a true self… and, above all, a plurality of beauty, beauty as individuality, a heroic expression of inner truth made outer,’ described the collection notes. Consequently, Piccioli’s grasp of silhouette and color translated into a series of outré ensembles combining the precision of the couture atelier with a sense of sartorial freedom and self-expression he has channeled during his tenure at the house.

Armani Privé

Armani Privé’s latest collection featured diamond motifs in a parody of harlequin clowns, according to the house. ‘An imaginary dance,’ described the accompanying notes of the exuberant collection, which saw pieces arrive in a multitude of colours and luminescent textures, from nipped bejeweled jackets to shimmering paillettes in shades of pink, emerald and turquoise (the designer said he was inspired by the idea of light being refracted through a prism). Other pieces drew inspiration from the Rococo interiors of Venetian palazzos – ‘the splendour of [their] light’ – while notes of black, whether providing an outline to a jacket or as a geometric motif on a gown, provided a graphic counterpoint.


The apartment of Gabrielle Chanel at 31 Rue Cambon in Paris served as the source of inspiration for Virginie Viard’s latest couture collection. The show featured animals, such as lions, does, stags, birds, and camels interpreted by artist Xavier Veilhan in set design and by Viard in embroidery throughout the collection. Wooden animal sculptures were placed in the show space whilst models emerged from them. “I like it when the marvelous bursts forth and the course of events is interrupted,” Viard remarked. The collection was influenced by the uniforms of parades and circuses, including top hats, bow ties, capes, tailed jackets, and lace-up boots, all created using the intricate techniques of the house’s couture atelier. Featuring delicate layers of transparency, the offering was replete with organza ruffles and floral Chantilly lace, and a simple bridal gown with a sheer veil adorned with a flock of swallows.


For Dior’s S/S 2023 Haute Couture collection, Maria Grazia Chiuri looked to the iconic figure of Josephine Baker, the American performer who rose to fame in Paris in the 1920s, as inspiration. The collection was presented against a stunning set created in collaboration with artist Mickalene Thomas, featuring collaged portraits of pioneering Black and mixed-race women, including Baker herself. The collection celebrated Baker’s status as “a glamorous icon, embodying the modernity of the 1920s, the transgression of stereotypes and prejudices, the mixing of cultures, and shared experiences that notably animated the vibrant world of cabaret,” according to Dior.

Chiuri put a particular focus on the line of the body, stating that “the couture garment is a body-garment… a body-home.” The collection began with garments that evoked the dressing robes Baker would wear over her costume before going on stage, while bodysuits recalled vintage satin underwear. Other pieces were glamorous in their minimalism, such as a black gown gently cinched at the waist and coat jackets that fell away into sharp pleats. Couture’s association with excess was represented by delicately beaded flapper-inspired dresses, glimmering metallic brocades, and a series of closing dresses in molten crumpled satin and velvet. “The clothes glide over the body and caress it,” said the house. It was a sensual and evocative collection that paid homage to the legacy of Josephine Baker and her enduring influence on fashion and culture.


For the S/S 2023 collection, Daniel Roseberry turned to Dante’s Inferno as inspiration, creating a collection that made headlines for its realistic animal heads- lion, wolf, and snow leopard among them- which emerged from gowns and overcoats. The collection received mixed reactions, as the animal heads were entirely man-made, yet it was not the only highlight of the collection. The sculpted hourglass bodices and tailoring, inspired by the shape of the house’s “Shocking!” scent, showed a masterful understanding of shape and form. The collection also featured extraordinary feats of embellishment, such as swathes of hand-stitched sequins and enamel, rhinestone, and molded-brass adornments. Roseberry said “Elsa [Schiaparelli] always promised surprise in her work, and over the years, people have learned to come to Schiaparelli in a spirit of wonder; you don’t know what you’re going to encounter here. This season, we concentrated less on deliberate artifice, such as our signature hyper-stylized anatomy bijoux, and more on blurring the lines between the real and the unreal.” The collection was a bold and unexpected take on the classic house of Schiaparelli, pushing the boundaries of fashion and challenging the audience’s perceptions.

Viktor & Rolf

Viktor & Rolf, the epitome of haute couture, presented a collection of ethereal gowns for their spring couture that left onlookers in a state of enchantment. One model gracefully strode down the runway in an inverted ball gown, her vision obscured by an intricately detailed 3-D printed bodice and cascading layers of powder-blue tulle, guided solely by the melodic instructions whispered through her earpiece. Others donned dreamy pastel creations, delicately perched upon a frame at a slight angle, as if they were the embodiment of a digital illusion. A couple of models made their grand entrance in debutante-style dresses, perpendicular to their bodies, reminiscent of the enigmatic Wednesday Addams. The models moved with an air of poise and mystery as they made their way through the opulent ballroom of the Intercontinental Hotel, their Louboutin kitten heels shimmering in the light.


As the curtains closed on the grand finale of Paris Couture Week, one couldn’t help but swoon over the highly-anticipated return of Mugler to the runway. Marking Casey Cadwallader’s comeback, the brand, which had been absent from physical shows for three years due to the pandemic, left no stone unturned for their grand re-entry.

La Villette played host to the spectacular event, which featured an all-star cast of models including the likes of Ziwe, Paloma Elsesser, Irina Shayk, Adut Akech, Anok Yai, Arca, Aweng Chuol, Mariacarla Boscono, Dominique Jackson, Debra Shaw, and many more. The show was also the first physical presentation to happen following the death of Thierry Mugler in January 2022, while his legacy continued to be celebrated in the “Thierry Mugler: Couturissime” exhibition.

Embracing the late designer’s experimentation spirit, Cadwallader dressed the models in bold bodysuits, featuring leather corsets paired with ultra-high thigh boots, adorned with zipper detailing throughout. Lace trimmings were added to cut-out dresses and trousers, while deconstructed denim pieces were highlighted with ruched details. The collection additionally spotlighted Mugler’s latest it-bag and Cadwallader’s first purse for the house — a structural design dubbed the Spiral Curve 01.

It’s clear that Mugler’s Fall/Winter 2023 collection will be etched in the annals of fashion history as a true masterpiece, cementing the brand’s status as a perennial favorite among the fashion elite.”


, Haute Couture Week S/S 2023, Liminul Magazine

Cody is the Editor in Chief and senior contributor at liminul.

He is a photography aficionado, fashion enthusiast, avid Lana Del Rey fan, and lover of all things aesthetically pleasing.

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