Street style in Paris brings the magic of fashion week alive

While attention is on the shows, the rest of the French capital retains that je ne sais quoi

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Paris is fairly jaded by fashion week, which is no surprise given the whole wondrous circus descends a minimum of six times a year — twice for women's ready-to-wear, twice for the men's and then two rounds of haute couture.

As a city used to statuesque models striding its streets and roads clogged with cars ferrying fashion editors, buyers and influencers from show to show, Paris has mastered how to retain its identity while playing host to the biggest style personalities. This means the magic can be felt throughout the city, on the metro and in the cafes as it embraces the craziness that is fashion week.

At the Dior show on Tuesday, for example, held at the Jardin des Tuileries, hundreds of people turned out to catch a glimpse of Natalie Portman, Jisoo and Alexandra Daddario, roaring their approval when they finally arrived. With Parisians normally so reserved, this felt like a seismic shift.

Scroll through the gallery below to see photos from the Dior and Saint Laurent shows

A few streets away, meanwhile, on Rue Saint-Honore, the Italian house of Valentino celebrated the arrival of its autumn/winter 2022-2023 collection, called Pink PP, by wrapping its offices in shocking pink fabric, giving the normally elegant building the look of a giant bouncy castle.

The streets feel pleasantly crowded, suggesting things have returned to a pre-pandemic normal, and the queues are back outside the Chanel and Louis Vuitton stores, despite the frequent rain.

Men stroll past in purple suits and coats worn hanging off shoulders just-so, and every third woman seems to be wearing a trench coat, neatly belted or left trailing in the wind. There are plenty of little dogs being carried, and a surprising number of people are wearing fur — a material said to be relegated to the back of the wardrobe long ago.

A purple suit and an oversized overcoat spotted on Rue Saint-Honore. Sarah Maisey / The National

As it rains, people mill about without coats, a sure sign you're in the presence of one of the fashion pack, who, travelling in cars, don't have to worry about sensible layers and footwear.

One look that seems to be having a real moment is dresses over trousers, last seen in the 1990s. Now updated, trend followers are wearing loose, roomier dresses, a la Cecilie Bahnsen — at whose show it was spotted several times — finished with trainers for a carefree attitude.

Wearing a dress over jeans, this woman has finished the look with a baseball jacket knotted around her shoulders, and Balenciaga's 'toe' shoes. Sarah Maisey / The National

At Bahnsen's show held in the historic quadrant of the Monnaie de Paris, once the French mint, the looks unfolded in the pouring rain, which felt strangely apt considering the show was called "we are water". As the rain fell, the press sat with coats on their heads until umbrellas were handed out.

Nearby on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, Wes Gordon, the creative director of Carolina Herrera, was in town to show off the spring/summer 2023 collection he recently debuted in New York. In bright summery colours such as primrose yellow, cherry pink and cornflower blue, and a riot of tweeds, florals and beautiful draping, it felt like a blast of summer against the grey skies outside.

Around the show locations, which are scattered throughout the city, legions of supermodels can be spotted, towering over the rest of us, clad in all manner of boots, long socks, mini skirts and combat trousers. Clearly used to the spectacle, most Parisians barely seem to notice.

It's difficult not to notice the countless jewellery stores, however, offering every bauble imaginable in both new and antique. One highlight of the week is that jewellery house Terzihan is revealing its latest creation — a one-of-a-kind necklace in rose gold, diamonds, lapis and matt onyx. Reticulated to flow around the neck, and having taken a team of six more than two months to create, it seems a perfect metaphor for the city: beautiful, unique and deeply complicated.

Welcome to Paris Fashion Week.

Scroll through the gallery below to see celebrities at the Saint Laurent show

Updated: October 14, 2022, 6:50 AM
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