Underpants and a sombre summer at Paris Fashion Week

From wearing your underwear in the street to the very muted color schemes of big brands, some trends stood out from the spring-summer 2024 womenswear collections at Paris Fashion Week which ends on Tuesday.

Here are some highs and lows from 11 days of shows in the French capital, the climax of a hectic month of fashion weeks in London, New York, and Milan.

Underwear is outerwear

Get used to walking around in your underpants if you want to stay trendy next spring.

Already a popular look for celebs like Hailey Bieber and Kendall Jenner, it was everywhere in Paris this week.

Stella McCartney’s billowing silk tops were worn over crystal-encrusted undies, Victoria Beckham had outfits that were little more than nightdresses, or swimsuits and socks, while Dries Van Noten had leopard-skin swimsuits under trench coats.

Sombre summer

A lot of designers were keen to drain the color from spring and summer.

Christian Dior, Saint Laurent, Victoria Beckham, and hyped newcomer Peter Do were among the many brands with muted, often monochrome palettes.

Some observers were dismayed and also felt there was a lack of innovation.

“Where are your colors? Where are your ideas, except those that come from archives?” chided veteran fashion watcher Cathy Horyn, now of New York Magazine’s The Cut.

Balmain’s flowery recovery

Balmain bucked the colorless trend with a shiny and exuberant show — that it managed to pull together despite a dramatic robbery that saw dozens of its outfits stolen on their way from the airport just 10 days earlier.

There were lots of roses — a woman seemingly lost in an entire red bush of them, another with a swoosh of golden feathers with roses on the tips, and a range of rose-print tops, dresses, and mini-skirts — as well as some ultra-bling glittering flower concoctions that verged on haute couture extravagance.

“Florals for spring? Groundbreaking…” designer Olivier Rousteing wrote with apparent irony on Instagram.

Balenciaga unpolished

Balenciaga’s Demna was humbled last year after highly controversial ads appeared to reference child abuse.

But after one low-key show earlier this year, he was back to his rebellious ways this week with surreal looks such as giant-shouldered suits and dresses made from retro tablecloths.

“March was very polished and I realized that I don’t like it when it’s polished. I like it when it’s rough,” Demna told Vogue.

It was also a very personal show, featuring his mother, husband, and members of his staff as models.

“It was about me, it was about my story. I needed to do it… because I had a horrible year,” he said.

Environmental activists

Hermes had one of the prettiest stage designs, with guests nestled in a prairie of wildflowers and tall grasses recreated in the stables of the Republican Guard.

But animal rights group PETA does not like its style and briefly interrupted the show, objecting to its use of crocodile skin.

By contrast, Stella McCartney turned her show into a marketplace for “cruelty-free and conscious material innovations”, with stalls promoting innovations like vegan leather, organic cotton, and seaweed-based yarn.

Her outfits included homages to her rock star parents — Paul and Linda McCartney — during their time on tour with Wings in the 1970s, including ruffled shirts and crystal-encrusted waistcoats.


Naomi Campbell was the star of the catwalk in a shimmering silver dress at Alexander McQueen, where Sarah Burton gave her final show as creative director after more than a decade in charge.

Business of Fashion called it a “typically fearless final flourish from Burton”, leaving a tall order for her yet-to-be-named successor to meet.

It was also the last hurrah for designer Gabriella Hearst at Chloe, where her sustainability agenda brought acclaim but apparently not enough sales to keep her at the fabled French house and she is leaving after less than three years.