Words by Suzie Bakos
A Prada and Burberry campaign star, Instagram fashion favorite and regular runway face for some of the world’s biggest names (including French icons Balmain and Marine Serre), Paris Fashion Week through model and writer Nassia Matsa’s firsthand lens is one worth watching. ‘Fashion is a part of Paris’ cultural heritage,’ notes Matsa. ‘You can feel it in the air. It feels like a celebration and that the whole city is dancing to the runway’s beat.’ With the fall/winter 2023 shows almost upon us, we shine a light on the fashion capital’s most-loved names — the powerhouse brands that shape trends and deliver talking-point runway moments each and every season. ‘You can see the epitome of chic through the classic Parisian houses, and on the other hand you have the new, creative and extreme [brands] — I’m interested in both.’
‘I can’t possibly choose one brand I’m most looking forward to seeing,’ adds Matsa, on what to expect from the upcoming season’s shows. ‘They all have something exciting to offer. I want to see the sexiness that Saint Laurent brings to the runway; the glamour of Balmain; the playfulness of Jacquemus that always makes me smile; the Parisian-chic of the streets at Isabel Marant; the coolness of Courrèges and the jaw-dropping catwalk moment from Coperni.’ Ahead of the fall/winter 2023 shows, learn more about the story behind the brands and shop the key pieces, as Matsa shares some of her favorite memories of six iconic French names.
Saint Laurent has been an iconic name in fashion since its 1966 Le Smoking tuxedo suit — an unforgettable pairing that speaks to the Parisian house’s sleek, empowering DNA. Today, the brand is headed up by Anthony Vaccarello, whose vision sees closet cornerstones elevated with high-octane glamour and elegance. The artistic director has an ability to put on an unforgettable runway show, too. Saint Laurent’s spring/summer 2023 womenswear show was set in a dreamlike paved garden with a cascading fountain as the backdrop, while editors flew to Morocco's Agafay desert for the season’s menswear debut.
‘My most memorable Saint Laurent moment would have to be the fall/winter 2022 runway, when the models paraded with the Eiffel Tower in the background,’ says Matsa. ‘There was something so chic at the sight of a model wearing nothing but faux fur and jewelry on the runway. I’ve worn a few of the brand’s jumpsuits for shoots with ‘Vogue Arabia’ and ‘Vogue Portugal’ — they’re so figure-flattering.’ Other key callouts this season include empowering outerwear, refreshed tailoring and signature accessories.
‘Courrèges is another brand that redefines French coolness,’ notes Matsa. ‘It’s a brand to watch as the house’s appeal climbs higher and higher. The tones feel very 1960s while also feeling very now.’ Courrèges’ recently appointed creative director, Nicolas Di Felice, takes inspiration from archival pieces and today’s rave scene kids. His affinity with the Parisian underground music scene makes every Courrèges show a party. His latest offering depicts moments from the morning after a beach rave, with models walking through sand carrying their shoes in their hands. ‘I love a fitting venue that ‘dresses the clothes’ and Courrèges spring/summer 2023 show gave exactly that — after-rave beach vibes!’
‘I like to have classic pieces I wear everyday from cool brands like Courrèges. It gives a fun twist to a practical look,’ she adds. ‘My favorite piece right now? The brand’s long-sleeve knit is the one this season.’ Felice is revered for his understanding of what the younger generation want to wear. Look to the label’s mini dresses, logo-accented separates and sleek slingbacks for elevated essentials you’ll wear season after season.
Responsible for one of the most viral moments of 2022 — Bella Hadid’s spray-on dress last Paris Fashion Week — all eyes are on Coperni’s next Parisian runway moment. Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant are the duo behind the brand, and their vision is modern and playful, underpinned by innovative techniques that capture the imagination. ‘Coperni is another brand I’d put on the spectrum of French-cool. You can’t go wrong with the Swipe bag, and my favorite is the heart-shaped one. This season, I’m wearing the belted cropped jacket, but in a few months it’ll be all about the wedge sandals, in silver, of course.’
‘Fall/winter 2022 was the first time that I got excited for Coperni — the glass bag, made by my friends from Heven, was a highlight. Plus, the silhouettes and casting were perfect. How the Coperni duo combined sexy figures at the beginning of the show with soft creations towards the end of the collection made the experience so exciting. This was truly one of the most memorable runways I’ve experienced.’ Shop the highlights from the brand’s latest collection below.
Playful proportions, hyper hues and skin-framing cutouts, all worn by fashion’s biggest names — Simon Porte Jacquemus knows how to put on an epic show, and with equally impressive backdrops, too. The spring/summer 2020 runway was set in vibrant lavender fields, while his latest Raphia collection for spring/summer 2023 took place amidst a curated hay storm at Le Bourget airport. ‘I love when Jacquemus does an outdoor show,’ Matsa notes. ‘I adored the simplicity of the fields setting for the spring/summer 2020 collection. [Simon and I] share the same love for the Mediterranean and when I can’t be in the Med — my home — I like to [work] elements of it into my outfit. This collection spoke to me.’
‘I own so many Jacquemus pieces and always receive such lovely compliments on them. From the Le Robe linen dress to cardigans detailed with logo plaques, Jacquemus nails the combination of sexiness, elegance and coolness. I currently have my eyes on the Le Haut Meli top.’ Shop Matsa’s highlights plus tonal two-pieces, relaxed tailoring and trending bags from the latest collection on FARFETCH now.
Olivier Rousteing’s Balmain is synonymous with strong, maximalist glamour, and has been since the wunderkind took the helm of the French fashion house in 2011. The label’s modern-day power pieces and most-loved accessories are never far from our social feeds thanks to the Balmain Army — Rousteing’s self-coined term for fans of the brand. ‘I have so much respect for Rousteing and what he has achieved at the house of Balmain,’ says Matsa. ‘I love his vision and I think he is setting pace to become one of fashion’s greats. I wore a black and green Balmain two-piece for the spring/summer 2022 show that the brand kindly sent me.’ And Matsa’s personal runway highlight? ‘A great Balmain moment was the spring/summer 2023 show, as it really captured transcultural couture while honoring [the brand’s] historic roots in such an iconic way.’
It would be impossible to round up French designers without mentioning Isabel Marant. The Parisian brand captures that effortless cool-girl aesthetic in a way that feels modern and interesting thanks to its relaxed bohemian vibe and offbeat details — something central to the brand’s design codes. ‘Isabel Marant is playful and fun,’ shares Matsa. ‘I love the brand’s clothing but my favorite pieces have to be the accessories. The house’s new Naoko bag in the oxblood colorway is one of my top picks of this season, as well as the Vokayo straight-leg jeans — they look so delicious on.’
Those who sit FROW at an Isabel Marant show can expect to see beautiful clothes in stunning locations, like the Palais Royal, for spring/summer 2023. ‘Another display of Mediterranean inspirations, Isabel Marant’s spring/summer 2022 show was full of warm-weather feels. For me, sometimes we take fashion too seriously, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to have fun and being able to smile at a show. Fashion should be playful and this moment captured that so well.’