The AW24 finale in Paris had highs and lows, but rather than trends, the week's most important take aways were statements made by fashion trailblazers.

And it’s a wrap for AW24, Paris Fashion Week has drawn to a close and with it the fashion cognoscenti are homebound, putting bruised feet in ice buckets whilst reflecting on the season’s hot-or-nots. There is a lot to unpack. Paris’ latest runways saw commercialism come up against creativity. Whilst certain major French houses played it safe, subversive trailblazers returned to confront the industry. Making a statement among a record 108 shows were emerging independent designers, their collections a testament to arresting individuality and a belief in their trade’s continued significance – attitudes which secured their spots on the schedule in the first place.


There’s no denying that amidst global conflict and political chaos, fashion can feel frivolous even to those at its core. It’s perhaps not surprising then that rather than offering something potentially divisive, many brands this season focused on the ultimate aim of the game – to sell clothes. However, a roster of designers had a different response which proved how fashion in any context can spark meaningful discourse and inspiration. Here are four of the creative forces who left a mark on this season’s PFW.

Rei Kawakubo – Comme des Garçons

“This collection is about my present state of mind. I have anger against everything in the world, especially against myself.”


Anger was at the core of the maverick Japanese designer’s distinctively all-black (except for the white finale look) collection. Models styled in gothic pompadour wigs broke the fourth wall, expressing frustration with clenched fists and confrontations with the front row. Known for distorting forms, CDG outdid itself here with explosively blown-out silhouettes; stamped with symbols like barbed wire and dark rosettes, pieces enabled fury to exist in femininity. Kawakubo has been challenging social constructs and pushing for freedom of expression for 55 years, here her artistic revolt against the system is sumptuously raging and shows no sign of stopping.

Demna – Balenciaga

“I believe that creativity has secretly become a new form of luxury.”


Aptly titled Digital Deluge, Balenciaga’s AW24 show was a sensory overload that questioned the meaning of luxury in an age saturated with content. Against a backdrop of LED screens, flickering with nature imagery, Parisian scenes and TikTok snippets, the runway presented a cacophony of concepts. Upcycled pieces named 1-minute designs unashamedly threw together bras into haphazard gowns and trousers were inverted into tops. Demna’s frozen drape dresses were a glamorous juxtaposition, their immobility once again challenging perceptions of elegance.

Róisín Pierce – namesake label

“An angel who’s come to earth to bring peace, hope and love. I wanted to create something quite heavenly with this numinous feeling. A feeling of protection.”


Newly represented by Dover Street Market’s Paris showroom, Róisín Pierce is an up-and-coming designer introducing Irish craft traditions, storytelling and slow fashion to the French Capital. Titled O Lovely One, Fallen From a Star, Pierce’s AW24 presentation at the Irish embassy was an ode to divine femininity and instruments of peace and order in dark times. As well as continuing work with her mother Angela in Dublin, this season saw the designer collaborate with a young poet Michelle Freya whose lines set the tone in show invitations. Bar one midnight-blue look, the collection was characteristically all-white and predominantly crafted from deadstock Swiss bridal materials. The crocheted floral chains and iconographic lattice knitwear of each celestial piece held intricate symbolic meanings which speak to history, identity and hope.

Laduma Ngxokolo – Maxhosa Africa

“Our heritage should be worn on a daily basis.”


The only Africa-based brand on the Paris schedule, Maxhosa Africa made a grand debut at the South African Ambassador’s Residence in France. Founder Laduma Ngxokolo’s wanted to connect with Paris’ African diaspora and introduce traditional Xhosa textiles to international audiences. Challenging perceptions of African fashion, the collection blended tradition with modernity whilst Ngxokolo’s narrations on identity soundtracked the runway. Spinning heads were geometric prints interpreted on two-piece sets, splashes of neon within beadwork and a dress embroidered with a Zulu woman’s portrait. With a Soho store opening soon in New York, Ngxokolo will remain an important voice in the global fashion space.

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