Sofia Achaval de Montaigu’s Couture Fashion Week Diary

by Aaron Royce
Paris Couture Week, fashion, front row, runway, couture, haute couture, Chanel, Dior, Balenciaga, Schiaparelli, Armani Prive, Jean Paul Gaultier

Paris Fashion Week’s Fall 2024 couture shows were full of fantasy and fanfare—and model Sofia Achaval de Montaigu witnessed all of it from the front row. Schiaparelli’s phoenix-inspired muses, Dior’s Grecian goddesses, and Chanel’s operagoers were just a few of the standouts that made for an especially fashionable week. Below, Achaval de Montaigu recaps her experiences in an exclusive fashion diary.

Schiaparelli

Paris Haute Couture Week’s beginning was in charge of Schiaparelli. The chosen venue was the basement of the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, lit by three chandeliers under which models walked in a majestic beat while making eye contact with the audience—which included Kylie Jenner, Kelly Rutherford, and Doja Cat. With feathers and tulle as the collection’s main focus, Daniel Roseberry paid homage to the brand’s founder with a surrealist proposal titled “La Phoenix.” We saw a total of 30 looks that included greatly voluminous pieces, dresses in hourglass shapes, and lots of rhinestones. The opening look was a dress that resembled a phoenix bird, with two 3D gold wings covering the model. This was followed by designs with big dimensions, such as a white dress with an enormous matching tulle skirt embroidered with silver stones and a black tulle veil that covered the model’s face. Transparencies were another important component of the collection, seen in tight dresses and gloves that fully covered the arms. In terms of the color palette, it was mostly made up of black, although we also saw blues, reds, salmon, and greens. Models had their hair styled tightly in sleek buns, while the makeup looked natural.

 

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Dior

Dior’s Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2024 show was a tribute to women athletes. Creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri called upon the Greek goddesses from Mount Olympus by showing extremely simple white tunics with gladiator sandals that laced up to the knee. On the runway, Greek-style drapes revisited the original Olympic Games: dresses fell like waterfalls over the models’ bodies, with some wearing double leather belts to define the waist. With black, white and gold as the only three hues in the show, we saw vaporous dresses, deep necklines, fluid silhouettes and bodysuits, wide pants, and flat gladiator sandals. The outfit that stood out the most for me was an asymmetric gold pleated lamé dress held by a leather strap, but I also liked the white moiré and black velvet suits with peplos on the pants’ waist. Accessories were subtle, and we saw pearls in earrings, bracelets and rings. The models’ hair was brushed back in a wet style, while the makeup highlighted the eyes with golden tones. The walls of the Rodin Museum, which served as this season’s venue, was covered in striking depictions of women athletes created by artist Faith Ringgold, who passed away in April. Sitting first row was Jennifer Lopez, wearing a midi brown skirt with black leather gloves and her hair up styled in waves, and Venus Williams stunned in a sparkly set.

All images: Courtesy of Dior

Chanel

Chanel’s Haute Couture show was presented at the Opera Palais Garnier. Christophe Honoré was in charge of covering the venue’s halls in velvet to recreate a theater’s elegant boxes. With no creative director, the collection was brought to life by the 150 artisans that work atthe brand’s atelier, who mixed the drama from the theater with Chanel’s classic elegance. The sound of a bell marked the beginning of the show that included 46 models. Vittoria Ceretti opened the show wearing a black taffeta cape with a ruffled neckline that framed her face and her hair up with a bow, like the other models had as part of the styling. The brand’s trademark tweed pieces were also present in the form of skirts, jackets, coats, and dresses. Without a doubt, the outfit that stood out the most was a wedding dress inspired by the one Princess Diana wore for her wedding, and this piece was the one that closed the show. In terms of colors, we saw whites, blacks, grays, pinks, and more. Satin Mary Janes with pearl heels were the perfect shoe to complete the looks, while culottes brought some modernity to the line. Some of the guests sitting first row were Keira Knightly, Greta Gerwig, Camila Morrone, Sadie Sink and Naomi Campbell.

All images: Courtesy of Chanel

Giorgio Armani Privé

Giorgio Armani Privé presented its Haute Couture collection at the Palais de Tokyo before great guests like Cate Blanchett, Eva Green and Naomie Harris, who caught the paparazzi’s attention upon their arrival. The show, which was an echo of the 1930’s, included fitted blazers, fluid trousers in metallic hues, and lots of berets. We also saw very sharp shoulders combined with fluid bottoms that slid over the runway, creating a unique feeling of movement. Silks, organzas, tulles, and velvets combined with each other to create unique pieces with handmade embroideries, rhinestones, and lace. The use of pearls was one of the collection’s standout components, seen in one of my favorite looks: a black velvet one-shoulder dress. Another highlight was a long-sleeved dress with golden metallic mesh embroidered with shiny rhinestones, which a model wore with little gloves and a matching bag. The silhouettes were clean, the cuts precise, and the color palette included neutral and sophisticated tones such as black, white, beige, and gray. The models had their hair in a side part and their makeup highlighting their eyes with subtle black eyeliner. The pearly runway and the jazz band created a very energetic vibe. The show ended with the whole cast of models walking down the runway to Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade,” while Mr. Armani himself went out for the final salute hand-in-hand with two of the models.

 

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Balenciaga

Under creative director Demna, Balenciaga presented its couture collection for Paris Fashion Week at its historic maison on George V Avenue. A woman’s narration in the form of a meditation marked the beginning of the show, where the outfits had little cards with their order number as done in previous eras. The collection was centered around four elements: three-quarter sleeves, cocoon silhouettes, metallic pieces, and textile innovation. The 39 outfits drew their inspiration from casual wear, like denim jackets tied to the waist, oversized t-shirts, puffer jackets, tight leather dresses, neoprene and metallic textures. One of the most striking looks was the finale dress, where, in a choreographed performance, the couture team draped 47 meters of fabric directly over the model, creating a visual experience that took 30 minutes to prepare for; it resulted in an undone construction that was meant to be worn only once. Other looks that stood out included a dress made of melted plastic bags and another strapless dress made of gold aluminum. The accessories were an important component of the show. Some models wore butterfly masks in different colors, while others wore big hats with feathers. The neutral color palette ranged from blacks, grays, and denim blues to metallic hues such as gold and a mix of colors such as red and pink. The 200 exclusive guests included Selma Blair, Michelle Yeoh, and Katy Perry, who wore an outfit that caught every eye: an empress-cut coat with no top underneath, complete with worn-out effect stockings that ended in boots. Other celebrities attended with their daughters, like Nicole Kidman, who went with Sunday Rose Kidman-Urban, Naomi Watts, who went alongside Kai Schreiber, and Maya Rudolph with Pearl Minnie Anderson.

All images: Courtesy of Balenciaga

Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier presented its haute couture collection created by Courreges’ Nicolas di Felice as a guest designer for the season. The show took place at the brand’s Parisian headquarters in an immaculate white set, with guests like Catherine Deneuve, Selma Blair, BIA, Emma Chamberlain and Bad Gyal sitting first row. Di Felice’s collection combined Gaultier’s classic elements with innovative contemporary elements. One of the standout aspects was a series of dresses, mostly in black, that had corsetry elements paying homage to Gaultier’s iconic bustier. The silhouettes with hints of futuristic components stood in an atemporal elegance, combining high fashion techniques with state-of-the-art fabrics. One of my favorite looks was a gabardine draped dress in black with a wide neckline and a veil that covered the model’s face from the eyes downward. Another memorable piece was a tight white number, covered by a piece of draped tulle that created diagonal lines. The collection was striking in its subtlety, something that reflected on the last wedding dress: it was completely embroidered, translucent and made of nude tulle, combined with a veil that covered the model’s face. The predominant colors in the collection were black, white and beige. Models wore their hair back and slightly voluminous, while the makeup focused on the eyes with a black eyeliner as its protagonist.

 

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1 comment

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Jack Tyler July 3, 2024 - 12:06 AM

This article beautifully captures Sofia Achaval de Montaigu’s experiences at Couture Fashion Week. Her insights and personal touch make it a delightful read for fashion enthusiasts.

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