Paris Fashion Week Brings Whimsy Back in Style

Paris Fashion Week Brings Whimsy Back in Style

Let your imagination fly with the dreamiest collections from Paris Fashion Week.



Let’s do a quick review of the world’s fashion capitals: if New York continues to set the standard of cutting-edge cool, London is defined by the push and pull of Saville Row tradition and Carnaby Street modernity and Milan is known for its earthy sensuality and high-glam polish, Paris continues to inspire all of us to dream.


And in Paris Fashion Week’s recent Spring 2024 runways, the inspiration was abundant. Several designers from top French fashion houses sent down the most beautiful looks that had little to no hold on reality down their runways. Whimsy is back in style, after all, and it’s a season to let your imagination soar to higher and more conceptual heights.

Ahead, check out our fave collections from Paris Fashion Week that fully leaned in to the whimsy.


Alexander McQueen


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For her farewell collection as the creative director of Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton made sure to deliver the drama. At its core was a blood-red rose motif, and the angry scarlet hue permeated the collection. Burton said she was inspired by Queen Elizabeth I, and the references were abundant: from the iron breastplates on evening gowns to the frippery and bouncing metallic fringe on several garments. The highlight? A jaw-dropping ruffled gown with a black-to-scarlet ombre effect designed to mimic rose petals, which fluttered and bounced with every step.




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Florals? For spring? Under Olivier Rousteing’s hand, it may not be groundbreaking but it’s surprisingly a breath of fresh air. This season, the designer was inspired by the rose, which coincidentally was Pierre Balmain’s favorite flower. Imagine a sorbet-hued summer at the French Riviera, where you frolic the golden sands in an array of eye-searing color-blocked ensembles and flouncy pleated skirts that bounce with every step. We love how Rousteing plays with the rose motif—from suits entirely consumed by the scarlet blooms to jaw-dropping bejeweled mini-dresses mimicking rose thorns.




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In fashion, there’s no other outfit more classic or timeless than a Chanel tweed suit. It also, coincidentally, is an outfit that has very strong tita or ladies-who-lunch connotations. But this season, Virginie Viard intentionally imbues the classic tweed suit with a restless energy that just feels so youthful. Is it the slouchier, more languid cuts or the playful watercolor-inspired patterns that go beyond the typical houndstooth? Whatever it is, this new Chanel feels a lot less old-lady and a little more Gen-Z appropriate.


Comme des Garçons


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When it comes to kooky, out-of-this-world whimsy, no one does it better than the revered Rei Kawakubo. Consistently relied upon to bring true avant-garde artistry to the Paris runways every season, the designer showed an unexpected lightness and humor in her spring collection this time around. Huge, voluminous gowns that looked inflatable and engulfed the models marched down the runway, rendered in bright hues and tongue-in-cheek digital patterns. Is it classic? Not at all. But it feels like classic Comme—always defying conventions of dress and pushing the boundaries of what fashion can be.


Dries Van Noten


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The recent Dries showing feels like a study on how to make otherwise ordinary basics extraordinary. Closet staples found in the everyman’s wardrobe are given a few tweaks and, well, yassified—like a nylon trench coat made glittery with rhinestones covering every inch, sleek tailored jackets with contrasting pastel trim that feel very Wes Anderson, as well as sexy strappy sandals paired with thick, cable-knit socks. All the looks are styled for maximum incongruence and interest, and the playful results prove that whimsy can be wearable and within reach after all.


Maison Margiela


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Margiela has always been a go-to label for fashion’s cool kids, and this season the cool kids fully leaned into the silly. Ever the master of theatricality, John Galiano made models parade down the runway in the most eccentric looks—and with an equally eccentric walk to match. Day dresses are deconstructed and manipulated to look unfinished, garments feature shiny vinyl material, and jaunty hats and goggle-like sunglasses finish up every look.




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Francesco Risso’s latest collection for Marni is an exuberant explosion of visual interest. This season, he completely threw out every rule on putting a tasteful look together. Instead, he paired eye-searing neons together for maximum clash, played with mixing patterns of various scales, and subverted classic preppy codes with a much-welcome dose of kookiness. The highlight? Floral gowns with multiple floral beads jutting out of them that can almost pass for sculpture.




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For this collection, Casey Cadwaller amplified the contrast between soft sensual femininity and hard-edged femme fatale realness. This season’s Mugler power woman can don a bold, structured power suit that feels almost like armor, but also wear a delicate sheer cocktail dress that moves beautifully. And boy, was there a lot of movement—supermodels slinked down the runway with diaphanous sheer trains and veils that (with the help of industrial-strength wind machines) flowed behind them for maximum drama.




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The late Paco Rabanne is famous for his iconic chainmail dresses, and creative director Julien Dossena took it a step further and created metallic gowns that feel very armor-like. This season, Rabanne seems to dress the huntresses of Diana’s tribe or the fierce female Amazonian warriors. Every look glittered and shimmered yet expressed a strong ferocious spirit. Think female power and strength, but at its most glamorous.


Undercover Lab


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Japanese label Undercover Lab perhaps made one of the most whimsy-filled splashes in Paris Fashion Week. Designer Jun Takahashi sent down smart street-ready looks marked by bold color and graphic prints, but the highlight were his finale looks—three glowing dresses that were actual terrariums featuring blooming roses and live butterflies. Definitely a sublime fashion moment that will be remembered and referenced for years to come.


What’s your favorite whimsical spring collection from Paris Fashion Week? Let us know in the comments!



Words Jer Capacillo

Art Macky Arquilla


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