As Paris Fashion Week unfolds, it becomes a canvas for diverse expressions of femininity. Designers this week have unveiled collections that encompass both powerful, broad-shouldered superwomen and relaxed, everyday fashion enthusiasts. Thursday’s runway shows perfectly exemplified this spectrum, with Rick Owens presenting majestic icons and Isabel Marant embodying the effortlessly chic Parisian girl.

At Rick Owens, models graced the runway in platform sandals, donning elongated, somber dresses and figure-hugging sheath skirts, adding an intriguing constraint to their stride. Descending the grand marble staircase of the Palais de Tokyo amidst a haze of pink and neon yellow mist, these enigmatic figures seemed to emerge from another realm, their inner turmoil subtly concealed behind black veils. Rick Owens set the stage for a truly mesmerizing show.

With concerns about the world’s woes and a touch of inherent pessimism, the American designer channeled his emotions into a remarkably powerful Spring/Summer 2024 collection. Despite the underlying apprehension, he injected hopeful sparks through vibrant all-red ensembles. Accompanied by Diana Ross’s melodic voice, singing «I still believe in love» on the show’s soundtrack, the models were showered with a cascade of multicolored petals as they descended the marble steps.

The models exuded unwavering dignity, their silhouettes commanding and almost sculptural. Draped in long tunics with veiled faces, some bore a resemblance to desert Bedouins. Their hands disappeared into opulent elbow-length leather gloves, while others confidently sported high-waisted leather or denim trousers, paired with cropped biker jackets boasting dramatically wide shoulders. Oversized leather vests, featuring pointed shoulders projecting outward and upward, conjured images of American football players.

Jacket lapels reached striking heights, and many garments were cinched at the waist, emphasizing a voluminous upper body. This included oversized tulle tops adorned with layers of ribbons and cocooning silk organza dresses that created a sense of ethereal grace. Lightweight silk dresses and hooded capes seemed to defy gravity as they gracefully floated with each step.

The atmosphere underwent a complete transformation at Isabel Marant’s closing show at the Palais-Royal, attracting a sizable crowd at Place Colette. In an exceptional departure from tradition, the designer opted for an outdoor runway set against the square’s sandy ground instead of the usual marquee. This provided the perfect backdrop for a genuinely summery collection, where youthful women confidently embraced minimalist attire.

With exposed backs, some donned swimsuits featuring daring side-slits subtly peeking from beneath micro-shorts or cargo trousers. Others showcased their midriffs, pairing bras with pleated trousers or playfully revealing a single shoulder in asymmetric ensembles. Slinky or draped dresses featured strategically placed cut-outs, offering tantalizing glimpses of skin beneath.

The collection epitomized lightness and fluidity, evident in summer dresses adorned with Art Deco prints, mini dresses delicately trimmed with pearls, and topcoats and parachute canvas trousers that caressed the skin. Marant shared her vision backstage, stating, «This season, I aimed for a more poetic, feminine, airy, and lightweight collection—a certain simplicity. But Isabel Marant women will always exude power.»

«We reimagined our codes, creating a contemporary, easy-to-wear wardrobe that expresses femininity in a fresh way,» she added. The collection was thoughtfully rounded out with denim mechanic-style jumpsuits, leather pieces, and reimagined t-shirts.

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