Whether for its exquisite designs, the splendid venues, or the A-list VIP sections, Couture Fashion Week is arguably one of the most awaited occasions in the fashion industry. Compared to other fashion events, Couture Week will always be extra magical for its dedication to artistry and craft — models walk down the runway dressed in essentially wearable art! As we welcome Fashion Month, EnVi looks back at the best moments of the Spring Summer 2023 Couture Fashion Week.

Iris Van Herpen Spring 2023 Couture 

When it comes to Iris Van Herpen, it’s all about quality, not quantity. While fellow designers and brands presented a long lineup of looks, the fashion house revealed a total of six looks in a four-minute performance film titled “Carte Blanche.” To bring her latest visions to life, the designer worked with underwater film director,diver, dancer and choreographer, Julie Gautier. The film shows models gracefully moving in water, performing movements that signify a fight with control. Gautier herself became a scene stealer in the film. A clip showed the multi-hyphenate artist screaming in silence while dressed in a corset bodysuit with fiery strings of synthetic and human hair flowing out from the suit.

The rest of the looks were just as tantalizing. First, there was a sheer bodysuit with Van Herpen’s signature fluid line art slithering across the model’s figure, a cape flowing out from the model’s arms and shoulders. There was also an armor-like corset highlighted with touches of purple that extended into sheer streams of indigos and violets. Butterfly-like motifs on the fabric added an extra level of enchantment to the piece. Van Herpen continued to push the boundaries of her work with this collection, exploring how to turn defiance and strength into pieces of garment. “It is an ode to the ongoing resilience and strength of women worldwide and to the strength of Iranian women,” she explained.

Robert Wun S/S 23 Haute Couture

With fashion enthusiasts awaiting the young couturier’s runway debut, Robert Wun has been the name in everyone’s mouth this Couture Week. The London-based, Hong Kong-born designer first launched his namesake brand in 2014 after graduating from the London College of Fashion in 2012. Although the designer has been active for quite some time, it was his 2021 collection, “Armour,” that slingshot his name into viral-level fame. Praise from all over the net started flooding in, highlighting Wun’s sharp pleating, innovative silhouettes, and refined craftsmanship. 

For his couture debut, the couturier found musing in fears. “What is haute couture? In my head, I imagined artisans and tailors in the ateliers wearing all-white with gloves in fear of staining the delicate garments – which made me think: why not turn all of that fear into beautiful pieces?” the designer pondered, as he ideated how he would approach this first runway.

Wun proceeded to experiment and create looks that playfully nudged stereotypical fashion mishaps. His attention to detail is impeccable as we zoom in to find out that the spilt liquid effect on his pieces is in fact intricate beading sewn onto the garment’s fabric and carefully mapped out to make the “mistakes” look accidental. Similarly, the rained-on umbrella look was adorned in batches of Swarovski crystals. The wine-spilt gown was also dyed with beetroot for a more natural texture. In another masterfully crafted piece, a model walked onto the runway in a burnt bride look with gaping burn holes, where Wun also explored new techniques to recreate the effect. New explorations aside, Wun’s sharp tailoring and crisp textures shone through, reminding the industry once again that he’s a fashion maverick whom the world should root for.

Jean Paul Gaultier S/S 23 Haute Couture by Haider Ackermann

Ever since his retirement in 2020, Jean Paul Gaultier has been collaborating with a new generation of designers to reinterpret his house’s codes into their very own couture collections. Previously, Gaultier teamed up with Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing and now, fashion’s greatest showman calls on the master of sleek, Haiden Ackermann. Ackermann, who’s known for his mature and solemn designs, might seem to clash against the brand that’s known for its drama and extravagance. However, the final outcome was a momentous couture collection that seemed perfectly in tune with the current fashion landscape while still pertaining to the house’s grandiose. 

During the show, guests sat close to the models, allowing them to appreciate the intricacy of the pieces from their seats. Meanwhile, models walked down the runway with an extra pinch of poise and grace, dynamically posing in front of cameras. Ackermann played around with exaggerated proportions; with curvaceous sleeves and hyper boxy cuts were seen throughout the collection. Of course, the designer’s signature draping and darting were also present in the pieces; but this time, hints of Gaultier’s glamor were infused with this sophistication through eye-catching shades of blues, greens, and orange contrasting a grayscale. 

Some notable looks include a piercing gold top that’s attached to a light blue base and a shimmering black dress with similar detailing spiking out from its bottom. Both being a reference to Gaultier’s usage of parrot feathers in 1987 — which was considered an innovation in couture back in the day. Ackermann then put his own futuristic and sleek spin on this element, using feathers in an opposite direction with its prickly part facing out. 

Another stunning detail came in a matching robe and top set, where the designer created a smooth velvety effect by sewing together straight pins. The real head-turner from the collection was Look 23, which featured a beautifully paneled twisted neckline that glides across the bust and onto the back, perfectly contrasting the gentle and fluid bottom half of the look.

Dior Haute Couture S/S23

Be it craftswomen from remote regions or public figures who’ve made an impact, the house of Dior has kept empowering women as a core priority. Fittingly, their recent show was decorated as an ode to female powerhouses.This time, the creative director took inspiration from the African-American songstress, Joséphine Baker. The singer left the states in the mid-1920s to pursue her passions in Paris and has become an icon of glamor, exuberance, and confidence. The brand’s latest couture presentation showcased a plethora of slightly laid-back looks that drew inspiration from Baker’s off-duty days, while still capturing the aura of extravagance the star always flaunted.

Models walked down the runway in shades of grayscale with splashes of glimmer and gold taking over the last chapter of the show. The house’s signature bar jacket and new look silhouette were spotted with new lush iterations. Drapery and embellishments were also embedded in the collection, recalling once again the grand feel of womenswear in the ‘20s. Another highlight of the collection was the usage of crushed velvet that adds a regal feel to more subdued silhouettes. The collection honored the codes of the past while interlacing modern touches into the garments, as Dior’s signature structured tailoring met a more carefree attitude.

Viktor & Rolf Spring Couture 2023

Masters of the unconventional, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren never fail to amaze with their out-of-the-box vision. For their latest couture offering, the creative partners built a collection around an “absurd take” on couture ballgown stereotypes. Consisting of 18 looks, the runway ranged from gorgeous cupcake gowns to upside-down tulle dresses, built on 3D structures. The idea was to tilt the dresses and show how they could fit the body in nontraditional ways. “The dress, while retaining its idealised shape, antagonises, alienates and frees itself from the body in a surreal way,” said the Dutch brand about the inspiration behind “Late Stage Capitalism Waltz.”

Despite opening the show with a yellow strapless ballgown that gave off a near fairytale feeling, the highlight of the show came courtesy of dresses cleverly flipped on the body of the models. One of the standout pieces was an inverted light blue dress with a massive skirt completely hiding the model’s face and only revealing her legs underneath a corset that sat against her hips. Surrealism, quirky genius, and Viktor & Rolf’s signature style mixed to create one of the most-talked-about couture collections of the season. 

The Best Dressed Celebs

While the Couture season was a display of fashion mastery, the action was not limited to the runways. On the front rows, celebrities and fashion insiders often became the main stars. In the most recent Couture Fashion Week, names such as Kylie Jenner, Doja Cat, and BLACKPINK’s Jisoo dominated the social media conversation. Whether for their controversial choices, their experimental approach to fashion, or simply because of their ability to embody a brand, these stars created a buzz around the event and proved that fashion and entertainment will always go hand in hand. 

Photo courtesy of Dior Press

Interested in more Fashion coverage? Check out everything EnVi loved about Prada in January 2023 here.