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Fashion Month Round-Up: Highlights From The SS24 Shows

Fashion was transported beyond clothes for the SS24 season. Across the runways of New York, London, Milan and Paris, vanity was celebrated, archives reimagined and, above all, fashion was humanised, paying close attention to the people who wear and design it. 

This season was one of contrasts. We saw designer debuts at some of fashion’s biggest brands, an unrivalled remodelling of brands, designers leaving brands after decade-long journeys, and futuristic innovation as well as subtle nods to the past. Consequently, SS24 accumulated into a competitive spectacle of design, with each and every collection authoring a new meaning of fashion. Here are the CF team’s SS24 highlights. 

The Designer Debuts

Aptly so for the spring/summer collections, this season was one of new beginnings as several of fashion’s core brands were re-born under the hand of a new Creative Director.


Perhaps the most anticipated debut of the season, Sabato De Sarno stepped into the creative spotlight of Gucci, one cast over the bold shadow of Alessandro Michele’s legacy, with a collection that displayed the same confidence but in a totally opposite manner. Where decadence, eclectic experimentalism and electric drama once defined Gucci’s runway shows, Sabato De Sarno’s show was muted in both colour palettes as well as artistic noise. Eyes were forced onto the garments themselves, which bore a pared-back minimalism, although still carefully imagined and subtly complex in their own ways. The collection sourced inspiration from the streets by weaving the trending cherry red into shoes, sunglasses, jackets and bags. Flatform shoes returned to accompany tiny (even by Miu Miu’s standard) shorts worn with opera, floor-length coats. The house’s signature Diamante print remained, while the Jackie bag returned in a re-glittered splendour decked in nets of jewels, but not a pussy-bow in sight. Overall, Sebato De Sarno’s debut was a steady one, steering a clear path for the brand, but where exactly this path leads is yet to be fully defined.


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Tom Ford

Tom Ford now has Peter Hawkings to fully credit for its characteristic glamour following the brand’s eponymous founder stepping down from the label earlier this year. Because Peter Hawkings has worked under the Tom Ford label for the past 25 years, a total shift of the brand’s identity was not anticipated, although a change was still noted. Starting with the fusing of women’s and menswear on the runway, it was clear to see an increased, reciprocal dialogue between the two with Savile Row tailoring, croc-leather jackets, and silk buttoned-down shirts. Some things, however, remained the same. Plunging necklines and sheer fabrics brought a Fordian, sultry allure to the largely monochromatic looks. Gold accents in statement belts peppered the dark tones, accentuated under the warm-toned light of the runway. These details both nodded to Tom Ford’s 1990s designs and played into the chunky jewellery we saw trending on the catwalk earlier this year. 


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An elegant youth is found in the cleanliness that new Creative Director, Louise Trotter, breathed into French heritage brand, Carven. Already a contemporary thinking brand at the time of its conception, in 1945, keeping modern relevance while also honouring the post-war roots is a delicate balance. Paying homage to the ready-to-wear concept of the brand, Louise Trotter’s debut focussed on layering rather than rigid tailoring to provide structure in each garment. Cinched waists helped create startling silhouettes with very lightweight fabrics, a welcome, subtle reference to the silhouettes of the 1940s. Meanwhile, through the evening glitz of full, sheer tulle skirts belted atop cashmere sweaters paired with square-toed ballet flats and deepened sweetheart necklines, daywear became infused with night through Carven’s mixing fabrics of opposing textures. Inspired by Scottish painter Alison Watt’s Warrender, the meditated simplicity of Carven’s SS24 show places the brand back under fashion’s anticipatory glare.


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Helmut Lang

Journeys, poetics, and the city that never sleeps played core parts in Peter Do’s first collection for American brand Helmut Lang. Titled “Born to go”, the runway became its own place of travel (both physical and artistic) through Ocean Vuong’s didactic opening essay and visuals of New York’s signature yellow cabs, symbolic of Peter Do’s own arrival to the label. The collection itself displayed a composed and rigidly poised urban modernism. Yellow, hot pink, and red refrains break up the largely subdued colour palette in military-like, vertical and diagonal sash detailing. The utilitarian, black leather boots – a sturdy shoe for journeying and also a Peter Do motif – carried consistency between every look, tying both men’s and womenswear together. Much ado about urban wanderings in America’s fashion capital.


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The Stand-Out Moments

Sarah Burton’s last show for Alexander McQueen

This season was also one of departure. Through the cyclical, ever-changing motion of the fashion industry no designer is ever fully settled, and no brand is ever fully constrained to its present identity. As sentimental as it was sartorial, Alexander McQueen’s SS24 concluded 26 successful years of Sarah Burton’s rich storytelling with a rare standing ovation and tears both on and off the runway. Dedicated to Alexander McQueen himself in a lyrically poignant full-cycle, the collection had McQueen’s drama and returned to his original sources of inspiration; nature and the female anatomy. The exaggerated hourglass and flamboyant Elizabethan embellishment that defined the label returned, breastcups and all. The collection’s stand-out garment was the rose dress made from ombre layers of red fabric, delicately pleated and pinned. This blood-red English iconography spoke directly to Alexander McQueen’s unforgettable designs, including the dress he made entirely out of fresh flowers in S/S 2007. The striking finale – an emotional Naomi Campbell closed the show in a dewy silver bustier and fringed skirt, a regal and refined final flourish of the brand’s characteristically (tastefully) distressed silhouettes.


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Pouts were out and smiles were in at Giorgio Armani 

In total opposition, models took to the runways smiling at Giorgio Armani. In the collections notes, Armani writes “I think that there is both a need and a desire in fashion for a new clean, calm and light-hearted approach.” Set in a Milanese theatre, the collection focussed more on the unseen concept “vibrations” and “undulating surfaces”. This saw clothes structured so they permitted constant movement through delicate folds, trouser waistbands and silks. 1920s slicked, wave hair, beaded couture and scalloped dresses as well as the models enjoying themselves contributed to this quality of movement and weightlessness. 


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Supermodel Claudia Schiffer closed the Versace show

“It’s a powerful woman with a touch of sweetness” Donatella Versace explained in a show preview. So who better to close the collection than 90s supermodel and international sweetheart, Claudia Schiffer. In a tight, checkerboard dress that matched the checkerboard floor (in direct reference to Gianni Versace’s spring/summer 1982 ready-to-wear collection) the model helped debut Versace’s nostalgic emphasis. Sherbetted neons were vying for attention as the collection flirted with its archives. Versace’s defining vision of pop culture, both during and from the 80s and 90s, returned alongside the girlhood qualities of the 60s shift dress and contemporary hints to Barbiecore. And of course, both men’s and womenswear saw the signature, sharp contouring of the silhouette.  


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Chloé’s creative director danced down the runway

Gabriella Hearst’s last collection for Chloé also saw runway exuberance. In celebration rather than lament, Gabriella Hearst danced down the runway in a leather pleated maxi skirt and Traje de Luces-style jacket surrounded by dancers from Rio de Janiero’s Manguiera samba school. White, black and marigold ‘botanical-inspired silhouettes’ (according to the collection notes) defined the collection, very apt for the strong legacy of sustainable craftsmanship Hearst leaves in her wake.


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Dior’s feminist slogans were powerful, again 

Maria Grazia Chiuri once again transformed Dior’s SS24 runway into a site of activism. Teasing her show on Instagram with the direct caption “Have you ever been called a witch?” the show combined the talents of light artists Ele Bellantoni, Paola Ugolini and Maria Alicata to display how the personal is always political. Titled ‘Not Her” the neon claims formed a backdrop for a show in true Dior splendour, where clothes are chic and the women who wear them spirited.


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Schiaparelli created a dress made entirely of false nails 

Schiaparelli was another high-fashion label recalling its archives this season. Daniel Roseberry’s show notes proclaim “does it also need to cause a sensation, to inspire someone to walk across a room, to be an extraordinary echo of some of our best work in the couture? Yes. Elsa [Schiaparelli] did it first. We are doing it all over again.” Surrealism, an early twentieth-century artistic movement canonised by the fashion brand, resurfaced in the collection’s red dress made entirely from false nails: a nod to Elsa Schiaparelli’s gloves with painted red fingernails and also to the striking art of Salvador Dalí, Man Ray and Jean Cocteau.


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The Most Inclusive

Karoline Vitto

Unexpected for a new designer, Karoline Vitto’s stand-out runway debut made headlines in international publications after its empowering Milan show. Although Balenciaga featured curvy models Yseult and Paloma Elsesser for the first time in the brand’s history, according to Vogue Business’ SS24 menswear report only six of 72 shows featured plus-sized models, and womenswear this September felt just the same. However, recipient of Dolce & Gabbana’s annual platform for young designers, Vitto’s show was the anomaly with her cut-out and laddered daring clothes. The Brazilian-born designer’s collection was made for women sized 10 to 24, with no sample-sized models in sight. Emphatically telling the runway press “this is how it should be”, Vitto set a bold tone for the future with her exciting collection.


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The CF Fashion Editor’s Favourite Shows

Gemma Louise Deeks delves into the shows from each fashion capital that left an imprint this season.

New York: Gabriela Hearst

Known for her elegant, minimalist looks prevailing quiet luxury, American designer Gabriela Hearst designs with the modern woman in mind. This season’s female thinking inspiration was the Druids, a society in the third century BC that held women in very high regard. Championing sustainable luxury with everything she creates, her SS24 formula was made up of sheer organza suiting, ivory wool outerwear and form-fitting crochet dresses. Heavenly looks triumphed with an undertone of darker styles, symbolic of the religious priestly era she drew inspiration from. Gemma Louise Deeks


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London: TOVE

Topshop alumni Camille Perry and Holly Wright – who only made their catwalk debut last season – have created a brand that is a far cry from the fast fashion chain. TOVE embodies a refined wardrobe for fail-safe transitional dressing, never restricted by season or occasion. For SS24, the brand’s signature elevated femininity is matched with a less-is-more style, doubling down on a neutral colour palette and sending perfectly cut denim down the runway, showcasing quintessential wardrobe basics. Gemma Louise Deeks


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Milan: Gucci

After an eight-year run as a maximalist brand helmed by Alessandro Michelle, new creative director Sabato De Sarno made his long-anticipated debut with a collection that steered away from the extravagant and went back to the brand’s sophisticated house codes. Confidence and simplicity stood proud but there was a cool, sartorial edge throughout. And finally, wearable, covetable pieces were back at the forefront. Gemma Louise Deeks


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Paris: Saint Laurent 

A collection I anticipate every fashion month, Saint Laurent returned to the Eiffel Tower for another season with the glittering beacon as the backdrop for the show-stopping collection. An ode to the pioneering women of the aviation world, designer Anthony Vaccarello sent strong, utility-inspired looks down the runway colliding both feminine and masculine design codes. Powerful jumpsuits, khaki-coloured separates, safari-style outerwear and cargo dresses recalled the House’s modern origins grounded with a wearable sensibility. Gemma Louise Deeks


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The Most Innovative Shows


Fashion consciousness shifted with Coperni’s viral SS23 spray-on dress. This novel technology – in a matter of minutes – transformed how fashion defines itself. No longer was fashion about a garment, instead, on Coperni’s runway fashion became something much more malleable and much more transient. This season the technology was less suspecting. Pinned to the silk lapels of oversized blazers, models wore the Humane AI Pin; a small, square, screenless device with cameras, hidden sensors, and built-in speakers for listening. Ultimately, fashion is human, and this was a message that fashion is watching who the human is becoming.


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‘Techtopia’, ‘corpcore’ and ‘workwear for the Metaverse’ have all been used to describe Boss’ SS24 runway. Yes, in true office attire fashion, pinstripes, pallid greys and dulled pastels all featured. Less expected, was Sophia the AI robot welcoming guests to the show, able to read body language and facial expressions, and behave in a ‘human’ manner. Inspired by the film ‘Being John Malkovich’ the robot helped create a borderline nervous and oppressive atmosphere, or perhaps just a questioning on how AI is infringing upon the creative space.


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Innovation wasn’t limited to the digital this season. Courrèges’ SS24 show brought extra-terrestrial theatrics through design. As the first model stepped in their square-toed, thin-strapped heel onto the runway, it cracked. With every step, and every new model, the moon-like path of shrapnel became more fractured. Cleverly, this drew direct attention to the shoes. A dynamic metaphor for the impact of the brand’s signature square-toed, go-go boots made in the 1960s, creating a name for the brand. On top of the shards of the runway, spectators saw a collection that favoured shape over colour, with cut-outs emphasising the shoulders, stomach, and sides of the body to similarly define both masculine and feminine silhouettes. Known in the industry for becoming the Gen Z luxury brand, Courrèges artfully curated an Instagrammable moment, one that complemented – rather than overshadowed – its SS24 collection.


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Lead image: VERSACE SS24

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