From a spray-painted dress on Bella Hadid to a very muddy Kanye West and a surprise cameo by Cher, there were some viral moments at Paris Fashion Week, which concludes on Tuesday. Here are some of the highlights from the spring-summer 2023 womenswear shows.

Spray-canned Bella

The most talked-about dress of the week came out of a nozzle. Coperni stole the show when a scantily-clad Hadid had a white dress sprayed on to her by assistants, live on the runway. It took about 10 minutes for the “Fabrican” to work its magic. Made from polymers and fibres, it dries instantly into a non-woven fabric when it makes contact with air. Social media went wild, and there were comparisons to the iconic moment in 1999 when Alexander McQueen had a model spray-painted by two robots while rotating on a turntable. Another futuristic accessory was spotted at Hermes, where hollowed-out, carbon-fibre sandals made it look like the models were floating on air—“a mixture of technology and archaism,” said the brand’s shoe designer Pierre Hardy.

Austrian designer Andreas Kronthaler (center) kisses US model Bella Hadid (center left) as Russian model Irina Shayk (center right) and others acknowledge applause at the end of the Vivienne Westwood Spring-Summer 2023 fashion show as part of the Paris Womenswear Fashion Week, in Paris.

Muddy Kanye

Balenciaga has a thing for dirt and trash lately. Having caused a viral sensation with his ultra-expensive trash bags earlier this year, designer Demna decided to go a step further and fill a convention centre with dirt from a peat bog. First out on the runway was Kanye West, who was caked in mud as were many of the other models’ clothes. “Putting luxury into the box of polished, exclusive and visually expensive is limited, and pretty old school,” the show notes explained.

Trop Cher

Many brands went for big theatrical displays in the hope of drowning out the grim news around the world. Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing wowed his audience after his show by walking down the runway with Cher as her hit “Strong Enough” boomed around the stadium. At Rochas, designer Charles de Vilmorin said his show was an explicit “ode to indifference”, set in a mock-up of the legendary Folies Bergere nightclub. And Dior staged a “baroque party”, with designer Maria Grazia Chiuri saying: “In this heavy historical moment, fashion is the only territory where we can still play.” Her new collection inspired by 16th-century French queen Catherine de Medici, included corsets and high heels—not the usual thing from the feminist Chiuri, but she told AFP it was “ironic power dressing”.

Austrian designer Andreas Kronthaler (3rd left) flanked by US model Bella Hadid (2nd left) and Russian model Irina Shayk (4th right) acknowledge applause at the end of the Vivienne Westwood Spring-Summer 2023 fashion show as part of the Paris Womenswear Fashion Week in Paris.

Round and proud

While most models still looked like they could slip through a toilet roll, there were occasional glimpses of different body shapes on the catwalk. Belgian Ester Manas’s sultry collection of high-cut dresses and swimsuits were presented mostly by plus-size models, while curvy US star Ashley Graham paraded in a mini-dress for Balmain. Up-and-coming French designer Victor Weinsanto fully embraced bulges as he wrapped a model in nothing but tight bondage ties. His light-hearted approach also saw him put friends and fellow designers on the catwalk and even encourage his models to smile. “Fashion cannot be a purely elitist field,” he told AFP.

Becks in Paris

The biggest hype ahead of fashion week was the Paris debut by former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham. The 48-year-old has been trying to turn around the commercial fortunes of her label, hiring French managers and now presenting at the most prestigious fashion event. Beckham played it safe, with a traditional but elegant show of office and evening wear that went down well with critics and buyers. And she took a more humble approach by mingling with the guests following the show, rather than staying cordoned-off backstage. - AFP