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9th March 2023


One of the greatest joys of being a fashion fan is being able to watch all of the ‘Weeks’ in real time. It might not be quite the same as sitting Front Row, but being able to access every moment, live, via your phone, tablet or laptop is light years away from waiting for the images of the shows to turn up in glossy magazines weeks later. That all feels very early 1990’s now. In 2023, you get all of the thrills of the theatre, without the pressure of dressing up for the cameras. Unless you are the kind of person who enjoys that level of limelight, of course.

I can only sum up by saying, each Fashion Week for Autumn/Winter 23/24 had its moments, and quite a few Emperor’s New Clothes snapshots, too. There is a huge difference between having a mega-budget, or just searching for inspiration. For many of us, we enjoy taking in the silhouettes, and have our eyes on the accessories. 

Paris is the one we all wait for. The home of haute couture, it is the chic capital with the history, and prestige, and the expectations of fashion journalists, buyers, and creatives resting on its finely-crafted shoulders. Amongst the moments, by the end of the theatre, two shows were the ones which left us in awe: Anthony Vaccerello at Saint Laurent, and Virginie Viard at Chanel.

First up: Saint Laurent. Vaccerello was going to find it hard to top previous extravaganzas, adjacent to the Eiffel Tower, which felt like mini-movie sets. This time around, he opted for a straight catwalk, decorated with chandeliers. It had all of the mystique of Yves Saint Laurent from years gone by and felt like a luxurious, exclusive underground club. You could almost catch a waft of YSL Opium through the screen.

Once I got my head around the huge shoulder pads, which I will probably avoid this time out as I wore them in the 1980’s, I was entranced by the theme: elegance is returning, and it’s time to have a dressed-up wardrobe again. If you feel like me, most wardrobes now seem to consist of a sea of viscose loungewear, with an endless array of trainers and flat boots. There’s nothing wrong with a little comfort, but life is too short to spend it in stretchy separates. The Front Row did not disappoint, either.

Dua Lipa does that cowl neck/couture hood/Grace Jones thing

Zoe Cravitz does that sleek YSL cold-shoulder style

Vaccerello had taken inspiration not from specific pieces from Saint Laurent’s awesome archives, but more from the house’s high-on-a-pedestal position: finely-tuned tailoring. Each precisely fitted silk shirt, pencil skirt, flowing trouser and power jacket was contrasted with draped, lace-trimmed camisoles and dramatically jewelled-pinned capes.

Saint Laurent is also pretty unique in that it revels in displaying its legendary eyewear. It is not an add-on or an extra, but a distinct part of each overall look. The sunglasses on show are invariably dark, always dramatic, and very much without the stylish bells and whistles that other designers use to create quirky pieces. These are sleek, streamlined and powerful, and although they have an edge, they have enough ‘classic’ to ensure they will be relevant for seasons to come.

Emma at Blankstone, who is a fellow fashion fanatic, watched the Saint Laurent show, and chose SL534 to pick up on the look early. In her words:

Saint Laurent has its own reputation when it comes to eyewear. No matter which brands or styles come and go, these are pieces with chic staying power. I loved the dark, richly luxurious look at the show, and these frames have the same mysterious aesthetic.’

While the catwalk collection itself is all about Autumn/Winter 2023, there is so much to take from it for this coming season. Is it acceptable to wear dark colours in summer? It absolutely is. With glowed-up golden hour skin and warmer nights, you can take the look and make it a simple fashion statement for right now. Take fashion finds and add a logo belt to give the outfit a nod to next season Saint Laurent.

Remi camisole by Anine Bing at Flannels, Haisley Skirt at Reiss

Saint Laurent engraved leather belt at Matches

And now to Chanel. Again, it had a singular spectacular catwalk, with a striking centrepiece adorning the show’s main reference: the Chanel Camellia. It was simply everywhere: pinned on clothes, via prints, decorating shoes, boots and bags. The fashion itself was Viard’s continuing take on the modern woman: these were clothes that you can actually wear. There were cute boucle 60’s style suits, with white logo tights; long asymmetrical floaty dresses that had a hint of 70’s chic; and a beautiful array of accessories, with a singular pair of sunglasses. It was a triumphant display by a designer who knows how to take iconic Chanel strands and weave them into her own signature tapestry.

Emma at Blankstone, who I caught up with after the Chanel show, really loved the 1960’s style pieces. In her own words:

‘Some of the suits had a real swinging Sixties appeal, and I loved the natural hair and camellia-print boots. I decided on the Chanel 5458 to get the look now. The tortoiseshell finish is fantastic for this season as it’s a slightly lighter feel, and the oversized shape definitely feels like they belong in Cannes.’

The Chanel Front Row as always was an array of brand ambassadors who know how to steal the show.

It’s hard to find anyone more dazzling in Chanel than Penelope Cruz

The Richie Sisters are doubly contemporary in Chanel

After both of these shows, I looked at what I was wearing as I typed and felt like a sea-change was emerging: it’s time to lash the loungewear, turf out the tracksuits and vault the viscose.

I’m getting ready to channel Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter. If you have never heard that name before, then Google her. She’s not just an education in power dressing. She’s an education in life.

Repeat after me: ‘The champagne was flat, the caviar was mushy and the guests were incredibly dull.’ Now, where did I park my jet?

You can view the full Blankstone Saint Laurent range here:

You can view the full Blankstone Chanel range here:

Eyewear modelled and product shots courtesy of Emma at Blankstone

Images courtesy of Vogue Runway/SaintLaurent/Flannels/Reiss/Matches

The Remi Camisole by Anine Bing at Flannels is £129 and can be purchased here:

The Haisley Skirt is £118 at Reiss click here to shop:

The Saint Laurent engraved belt is proceed £310 and is available here:

All prices are correct at time of publication

The Blankstone Blog is brought to you courtesy of our very own style reporter, Nancy Buckland-Kirk.