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Cecilie Bahnsen, Acne Studios and Litkovska bring whimsy and simplicity to Paris

Translated by
Mar 2, 2023

The third day of Paris Fashion Week saw fashion shows by heavyweight designers on the calendar, such as Dries Van Noten and Paco Rabanne, as well as the public opening of Jacquemus' immersive pop-up at Galeries Lafayette. In addition, international brands including Danish label Cecilie Bahnsen, Swedish brand Acné Studios and Ukrainian firm Litkovska presented their collections that ranged from fantastical and ethereal to the most understated elegance. 

Cecilie Bahnsen - Fall-Winter2023 - 2024 - Womenswear - France - Paris - © ImaxTree

Cecilie Bahnsen's 50 Shades of Pink

A delicate pastel pink envelope with the name of each guest written in italics welcomed the loyal fans of the Danish designer Cecilie Bahnsen on Wednesday afternoon, March 1, anticipating the colour scheme that would dominate her latest collection. One of the luminous white rooms of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris hosted the fashion show of the most recent collection of one of Copenhagen's most internationally renowned brands, with white smoke creating a dreamlike effect and live music by the performer Suki playing in the background.

Named "Untitled (Pink, White, Red, Red, Red)", the ethereal collection for the coming Fall/Winter season was an expansion of the brand's distinctive universe, underlining the intimate character and the importance of showing in Paris. A city that Cecilie Bahnsen, designer and founder of the brand launched in 2015, considers to be the "home of couture".

"This season I wanted to capture creative, experimental and emotional expression through a musical performance. It's like writing a creative diary in which you express yourself through music, clothes or emotions," said the Danish designer to FashionNetwork.com, who described the collection as her "most mature and feminine". While the first two looks brightened up the catwalk with bows on shoulders and pastel yellow embroidery, they quickly gave way to much more understated black ensembles.

There was no shortage of the brand's signature voluptuous, asymmetrically cut dresses, most of which were worn with chiffon trains or skirts, sheer bodices, puff-sleeved or pleated jackets, and light mohair jumpers. Experimentation with denim also made its way into the show, merging classic navy blue denim with romantic cuts and sewing techniques. Once again, the Danish designer decided to mix and match codes that blurred the boundaries of traditional masculinity and femininity.

The brand also renewed its collaboration with Asics, which began last season, presenting a complete collection of metallic sneakers with colourful embroidered flowers. British outerwear brand Mackintosh helped create billowing rain jackets, while bags made from the same fabrics as the dresses rounded out the collection.

"My goal was to work with the materials we had in the studio, rather than beginning completely from scratch. It resulted in some amazing colour combinations, which ended up giving the collection its name. It's tremendously exciting to experience what happens when you imagine and work with things that are already there, rather than always starting from scratch," said Bahnsen backstage regarding the patchwork details composed of different fabrics and shades that she incorporated into her designs, breathing new life into her ever-recognisable style.

The show, one of the brand's busiest in Paris to date, was attended by numerous influencers and fans of the Scandinavian brand. Among those seated in the front row was the CEO of the recently held Copenhagen Fashion Week, Cecilie Thorsmark.

Acne Studios - Fall-Winter2023 - 2024 - Womenswear - France - Paris - © ImaxTree

Acne Studios' fantastical forest

From Cecilie Bahnsen's dreamlike universe to the fantastical fauna of Acne Studios. The Swedish brand turned the prestigious Lycée Carnot, built in 1875 by Hector Degeorge and Gustave Eiffel, into a dark, enchanted forest filled with guests. The floor covered with small volcanic-like black stones and impressive installations of entangled enchanted vines, from which large leaves in shades of lilac and green sprouted or shimmering strings of crystals fell, made the venue seem straight out of a storybook. 

"We wanted to create a magical place that captures the topography of a dark forest. I like how forests are always changing, growing and transforming," said Jonny Johansson, co-founder and artistic director of the Swedish brand, regarding the set design created together with Shona Heath.

Acne Studios sought to represent this metamorphosis with a collection tinged with mystery and dark touches. Models transformed into nymphs and elves out of nature wearing dresses made of leaves that created suggestive overlays and long fringes of leaves in shades of green. Low-waisted skirts, layered ensembles or a top in the shape of a wide leaf also appeared in shades of brown.

Coats and trench coats took on wide, wrap-around shapes to protect against the uncharted forest, as did a series of leather silhouettes that lent strength to Acne Studios' creatures of nature. Long-sleeved jumpsuits for him and her, patchwork jackets bearing the brand's logo on the back or long zip-up coats paired with tiny mini skirts were rendered in stark black or featured rust and weathered effects.

Trousers and skirts with laces on their sides gave way to the sexy looks that characterise the cult brand, while some outfits simulated lace-up openings with trompe l'oeil prints. One model's chest revealed a landscape against a blue background, leaving spectators wondering whether it was a tight-fitting printed T-shirt or a body painting.

Originality also took the form of three-dimensional flowers as appliqués in several of the looks, such as in frayed and asymmetrical knitwear silhouettes and even in furry cut-out dresses. Among the more colourful looks, two dresses stood out: one in neon yellow, with extra-long sleeves and a satin effect; and the other in turquoise, with a symmetrical cut, a side opening and fringes that danced suggestively to the rhythm of the forest music.

Litkovsca fashion show at París Fashion Week - Antonio So - DR

Litkovska's no-frills fashion

Coinciding with the first anniversary of the outbreak of the war, the Ukrainian label founded by the designer Lili Litkovska returned to Paris Fashion Week. Only a year ago, the designer managed to escape the war and landed at fashion week with a presentation in which she only had a large Ukrainian flag and QR codes through which to promote the work of her Ukrainian colleagues. On this occasion, however, her "made in Kiev" brand staged a show at the iconic cinema and showroom Le Grand Rex.

At its entrance, a huge blue and yellow flag was raised, as well as signs in the style of classic cinema that read "Litkovska. From the war zone with peace". Amidst popcorn boxes bearing the brand's name, the ambience of a film premiere and a soundtrack courtesy of Canadian singer Celine Dion, Litkovska's designs presented a "new vision of everyday luxury that challenges the notion of image" and characterised the solemn collection entitled "On Air" as an "ode to resilience".

Solemn looks featured the designer's distinctive way of combining layers with oversized pieces such as oversized coats, hooded parkas and deconstructed trench coats. Traditional tailoring played with shapes, mixing patterns and fabrics to create contrasting effects in original blazers, unique waistcoats and asymmetrical skirts.

A subdued colour palette tinged with white, black, champagne tones in satin dresses and a top with a side train, was complemented by touches of powdered pink, electric blue and scarlet red.

Creating the collection came with its challenges, however. The designer was forced to adapt to new working conditions due to the bombings, police sirens, power outages, and material shortages currently plaguing her country.  

"We communicate our resilience and love through our brand. It is a great honour and a great responsibility to be the only Ukrainian brand in the official programme of Paris Fashion Week," said the designer, who now lives between Paris and Kiev.

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