Hong Kong stylist, Declan Chan, is in the City of Lights during one of its most fashionable times of the year. He checks out Balenciaga, Valentino, Gmbh and Givenchy
My Sunday began with an early morning delivery of a lost wallet to my hotel suite. After opening the wallet and looking at the cards inside, I realized this was not a wallet I had lost, it was my invitation to the Balenciaga show. Dressed in a full FW23 Balenciaga look and with a new wallet in my hand, I set off to the Balenciaga show. While in my cab I could not stop looking at my pointy high-heeled boots that could nearly pierce the leather seat I sat behind.
My anticipation grew as I arrived at the venue, carefully tiptoeing out of the cab and into my seat. As I sat waiting for the show to begin, I read through the press release and was caught off guard by Demna’s statement announcing that he would no longer explain the concept behind his collections or verbalize his designs. The iconic creative director explains in the notes that “fashion in its best case scenario should not need a story to be sold to someone, “You either like it or not”.
The statement from Demna intensely resonated with me – it was refreshing to read a press release that did not necessarily aim to rationalize a creative concept. With no expectations for what was to come, I began to ponder the meaning of the mud pit catwalk, as look one appeared in the distance. Dressed in all black, Kanye West opened the show wearing an oversized hoodie, Leather pants, and a heavily pocketed jacket. The incognito look was accessorised with a black baseball cap that practically covered his face.
The runway was full of garments that piqued my curiosity, from a kinky teddy bear bag to sparkling clogs, the show was full of eye-catching accessories. Several male models including Balenciaga regular, Kit Butler were seen wearing baby carriers fastened to their chests with a plush doll snugly strapped in. The final look of the collection was one of my favourites – the look featured a leather dress worn by Minttu Vesala and was covered in straps, handles, fringe, and mirrors of the city bag. This collection indeed expressed a deep message of digging down and finding the truth, all the while letting the viewer create their individual perception of the collection.
My second show of the day brought me to the historic Carreau du Temple for Valentino. As I stepped into the venue, I passed by countless guests wearing “Pink PP” garments from the house’s last winter collection. The energy in the room was as vibrant as the opulent pink garments surrounding me.
As the first models paraded down the catwalk, I was instantly reminded of the graceful minimalism Pierpaolo Piccioli constructs so vividly. Voluminous Cream-colored pants with delicate ostrich feathers sewn into the fabric paired effortlessly with a long-sleeved top. As the show progressed larger free-flowing silhouettes started to dominate the runway with their elongated trains and extensive use of monogrammed fabric. The signature V logo was not only printed on Garments but was also painted on to many of the model’s faces.
Brand ambassador Zendaya attended the show wearing a crystalized sheer total black bodysuit paired with a pair of shorts and an overcoat. Her cascading earrings completed the total monogrammed look – further suggesting the print will likely be a key focus within the collection next spring. Dramatic minimalism harmoniously flowed through this collection that unboxed a powerful vision of Valentino.
My next show of the day was Gmbh. The collection titled “Ghazal” is a collaboration with Indonesian artist Muhammad Fatchurofi whose drawings depict scenes of peace and harmony. A gentle yet powerful feeling washed over me while I watched genderfluid garments drift by. Many looks in the cheerful collection featured printed Arabic calligraphy developed by Syrian artist Abdelrazak Shaballot. The mixing of both artists’ works skillfully blended with looks that could be worn in the office or while hanging out by the beach. Some of my favourite looks in the collection included cute leather and denim short shorts that paired well with structured and relaxed tops.
Givenchy was the last fashion show of my day and took place in the whimsical Jardin des Plantes. As I searched for my seat, it was clear a rain shower had just passed, soaking the cement runway. However, greater systems began to brew when guests realized Kanye West had arrived. Ye sported a Balenciaga mouthguard that he had also worn while walking the muddy runway a few hours earlier. Mathew Williams displayed a sexy and often edgy collection that featured well-constructed ruched dresses, sophisticated tailoring, and captivating uses of denim. A look that particularly shined, was accessorized with elbow-length black gloves and featured a beige raincoat ready to repel the elements.