Paris Fashion Week: Saint Laurent makes a triumphant return and Balmain marks a milestone

The industry rejoices as large-scale, in-person events are back on the agenda

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The fashion industry made a heady return to Paris this week, as a sense of almost-normalcy returned to proceedings. Large-scale, in-person shows are back on the agenda after a Covid-enforced hiatus and the mood is decidedly celebratory.

Things were particularly upbeat at Balmain, where Olivier Rousteing marked his 10th anniversary as the brand's creative head, with a two-day fashion festival that involved the general public. Saint Laurent made a return to the Paris Fashion Week calendar with a bold show at the base of the Eiffel Tower, while Dior served up some much-needed colour in a presentation that harked back to the 1960s and '70s.

Olivier Rousteing's decade of disruption

Balmain's Olivier Rousteing, centre, appears with with the models at the end of his spring/summer 2022 women's ready-to-wear show. Reuters

One of Rousteing's most ardent supporters was on hand to pay homage at the Balmain show, as it opened with an emotional message from Beyonce, who credited the creative head with injecting diversity into the fashion industry.

“[You] brought a new mindset to help persuade fashion to finally begin to reflect the real true beauty of today’s streets, the beauty that you and your team see daily on the diverse, impressive boulevards and avenues of your beloved Paris,” she said. ”For 10 years you have been determined to keep pushing that door open ... wide open."

Queen Bey’s hit Halo then played in the background as 1990s supermodels Naomi Campbell and Carla Bruni took to the runway, kicking off a high-octane show that celebrated a decade of Rousteing’s creativity – from his stiff, structure 1980s silhouettes, to slinky gold and metal gowns, and his famously giant shoulders.

The show played out in the La Seine Musicale concert complex on the outskirts of the city, and was open to thousands of members of the general public, as part of a two-day celebration complete with merchandise stands, food stalls and performances.

Saint Laurent makes a triumphant return

Saint Laurent set up a runway at the base of the Eiffel Tower. EPA

Former French first lady Bruni and actress Catherine Deneuve were among those to witness Saint Laurent’s triumphant return to Paris Fashion Week. Having renounced the fashion week calendar in 2020, the brand made a strong comeback, sending models down a runway at the base of the Eiffel Tower, with the glittering monument serving as a larger-than-life backdrop.

Anthony Vaccarello served up skin-tight bodysuits and sharply tailored eveningwear in a collection that oozed glamour. Tuxedo dresses appeared in pale hues, paired with bright blue gloves, while thick gold bracelets and spiky heels added Vaccarello’s signature edge.

Dior brings a burst of colour

Dior's collection drew inspiration from the 1960s and 70s. Getty Images

Christian Dior brought a burst of colour to the Paris Fashion Week calendar, as Maria Grazia Chiuri explored the maison’s output under Marc Bohan, who was famous for modernising styles and loosening silhouettes in the 1960s and 70s.

Cinched Bar jackets were swapped for short, boxy cuts with rounded shoulders, and paired with mini skirts and shorts. Technical fabrics like scuba material were woven into the collection, adding an unexpectedly sporty touch, while go-go boots and low-heeled Mary Janes from the 1960s and 70s were repurposed and served up in hot pink and bright orange, with laces and white, rubber soles.

Finally, neon leopard prints and pastel camouflage patterns were set against animal motifs that were blown up and applied with embroidery techniques.


A model presents a creation at the Rochas womenswear spring/summer 2022 collection. AFP

Amid the gilded interiors of the Mona Bismarck Hotel, Rochas presented a typically resplendent collection. The mood was set by a shimmering ruched gold and red skirt paired with giant gold pirate boots with wings attached the back, followed by short and long lamé dresses in shades of red and black.

Oversized proportions, and a bounty of ruffles and ruching should have given the collection a light, floaty feel, but these were injected with a darker edge, with the show notes referencing a “strange beauty” and “cinematic vignettes”.

Updated: September 30, 2021, 12:39 PM