Preview: Paris Haute Couture Week A/W 2024/5

By Jude Jones

Paris Haute Couture Autumn/Winter Week comes early this year, rescheduled to June 24th to June 27th so as not to clash with the Paris 2024 Olympics occupying its usual end-of-summer slot. After a few seasons of declining casual interest, Maison Margiela’s viral showing last season – under the creative direction of the controversial English enfant terribleJohn Galliano – once again has the world watching what the world’s finest designers will bring to the world’s most exclusive runway this season. Here’s our quick guide to top shows to keep an eye on.

Galliano

The reason why couture week is back on everybody’s lips, Galliano’s Baudelarian tribute to a sordid Paris of yesteryear for Maison Margiela last season went instantly viral. It featured models traipsing in zombie-like trance, bodies contorted to post-human extremes by torture device-looking corsets, and Pat McGrath’s messianic make-up artistry which uncannily transformed supple flesh into brittle porcelain. It felt a journey back into time: not only to the 19th-century Parisian underbelly that Galliano sought to evoke with his Edwardian hats and decadent gowns, but back to the golden years of the catwalk back in the ‘90s, whose eye-watering opulence and big-ego theatricality has become a lost artform. But now the question remains – how will Galliano follow that up?

Fendi

In contrast to the world-bending maximalism of Margiela last season, Kim Jones’ Fendi took the minimalist root: simple silhouettes, dresses predominantly in black or white, and a chic, futuristic sheen. If Galliano wanted to reimagine the humanness of his models and push its boundaries, Jones undertook a different project, stating “The Fendi approach to the person wearing couture is to reaffirm their humanity; they’re always ‘someone’ rather than ‘something.’” Although, ironically, this involved a turn for Jones back to Fendi’s Karl Lagerfeld days for inspiration, a man who perhaps has not always been at the cutting-edge of humanist politics. If Fendi’s Spring/Summer couture show was about imagining a humanist future, it will be interesting to see how this vision progresses in the brand’s next couture showing.

Chanel

After thirty years, Virginie Viard, once described by former Artistic Director Karl Lagerfeld as his “right arm and left arm,” has announced her departure from Chanel. Her tenure was described by VOGUE as one of “luxury craftsmanship and incredible practicality,” although others found her simplist couture “too safe,” and the rumour mill is already turning full-speed as to who might succeed her (former Moschino head Jeremy Scott seems the current favourite, a move that Lagerfeld himself once predicted). Amidst this speculation, everybody will have their eyes on what will now prove Viard’s final Chanel showing, eager to see whether she chooses to end with an unexpected bang or by keeping things expectedly – and albeit very chicly – comfortable.

Jean Paul Gaultier

The Gaultier name, if it has not already been for a long time, is steadily crystalising itself as a mythos more than a brand. Riding the wave of news that a Gaultier animated movie starring a fashionista moth is in production and an S/S ready-to-wear collection that pays self-referential homage to the brand’s iconography entitled “FASHION FICTION,” it is to be seen how the JPG’s SS24 couture show will continue this story-telling. Last year’s couture show was led at the helm by guest designer and Irish it-girl Simone Rocha, its playful, folkloric silhouettes worked dialogically with Gaultier’s own past of gender experimentalism to produce a harmonious welding of their two styles. This couture season will show how the Gaultier brand is continuing to work with and rework its own narrative history.

Giorgio Armani Privé

Giorgio Armani was recently in the GAY45 news as the richest queer-identifying person in the world. His fashion empire’s endless march onwards continues this couture season, still under the now 89-year-old designer’s creative direction. Armani Privé’s last couture collection featured a mind-blowing parade 92 looks with no overarching or single-minded theme, instead delivering a whole spectrum of fantasy-like chromatic dresses, united in timeless elegance. How Armani continues to work at such a high level, however, remains both a fashion miracle and mystery.

Jude Jones is the Managing Editor of GAY45 and is an interdisciplinary journalist, currently completing an undergraduate degree in History & French at the University of Cambridge. Their writing – covering photography, nightlife, fashion, gallery reviews, interest pieces, and political comments – has also been published by Varsity, The Cambridge Language Collective, DISRUPTION, and the Cambridge Review of Books, among others. 

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