It is one of the most stylish cities in the world … and now Paris is set for an Australian invasion.
As international fashion powerhouse Chanel prepares to take over the Grand Palais, and Maria Grazia Chiuri unveils her latest collection at Dior, a string of Australian designers will be showcasing their designs in City of Lights.
Paris is one of the big four markets — alongside New York, London and Milan — that make up “fashion month”, held each year in February and September.
This season, Sydney-based designer Christopher Esber debuts on the official “calendar” with his road to Paris a decade in the making.
Another homegrown label, Zimmermann, is also showing, after debuting in the market last year, while camilla and marc will host a showroom and event in a private residence in Paris for a fifth year.
In previous seasons, Australian labels Ellery, Collette Dinnigan and Romance Was Born have taken to the catwalks in Paris.
But next week, all eyes are on Esber, 35.
He said his show, simply titled “spring ’24”, would make for a “very surreal moment”.
“It has been a focal point for me to show within the Paris calendar,” Esber, who has dressed Hollywood “it” girls Zendaya, Sofia Richie and Hailey Bieber, said.
“It’s a recognition that hard work pays off. I am very honoured to be included in the [Paris] calendar.”
“I’ve been going to Paris for years now, it’s really how I built the brand – meeting with wholesale accounts that we’ve grown with.”
“We go there four times a year to meet with buyers … it felt organic that the brand would showcase on an international stage.”
Known for his use of cut-outs and body-con, Esber’s clothes are inspired by the Australian lifestyle.
“It comes from the way we do day dressing, that relaxed approach to getting dressed,” he said. “More and more internationally, people want to dress in a dressed up way but in a low-key approach.
“A lot of us [designers] in Australia have that in mind. I think it’s being close to the beach, that culture and lifestyle – it does rub off.”
The collection Esber will unveil in Paris is trademark Esber, he said.
“It’s really to show what I am about to a new audience. There are some really interesting approaches to fabric choices and textures. The colours are quite tonal – it’s very much about cut and silhouette. It has more of an experimental, tailored approach. The debut is very much what I want the brand to be seen for.”
Creative director of camilla and marc, Camilla Freeman-Topper, said her brand will hold its launch in a venue overlooking The Tuileries Palace.
“We’ll be working with a number of creatives, including Australian chef James Henry at Le Doyenne, to help bring an elevated Australian aesthetic with a European sensibility,” Freeman-Topper says.
“Paris has always been a fashion capital, and post-Covid it is more than ever, you really are at the centre of it all. It’s high energy in Paris during fashion week, we feel in our element.”
Chief executive of camilla and marc, Marc Freeman, said Paris marked an “important investment” for the brand.
“Paris fashion week really is the epicentre where all the key buyers, press, stylists, and celebrities descend upon during that time, so we can really capitalise on the high calibre of international attendance we wouldn’t otherwise have access to in one single moment,” Freeman said.
“We’ve had a presence during Paris Fashion Week for the last five years, and it won’t be the last.”
Meantime, Australian-born celebrity facialist Melanie Grant said the parallels between the Australian and French aesthetic are clear when it comes to fashion, and also beauty.
London-based Grant – a Chanel skincare expert – is also en route to Paris Fashion Week, where she will be working with models and “it” girls (Grant’s client roster includes Victoria Beckham, Dua Lipa, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jennifer Aniston).
“Aussie and French approaches to beauty are very similar in a lot of ways,” Grant said of the current trend of so-called French girl beauty.
“We’re both focused on skin health first and make up second and there’s a simplicity and preference for “less is more” to both.”
Grant and her team are in Paris three to four times a year.
“During this time, depending on the season, my team and I will collaborate with brands such as Augustinus Bader, Chanel or Victoria Beckham Beauty to name a few, launching new products, preparing models for runway and guests and editors for red carpet and events,” Grant said, speaking on her recent trip to Sydney.
“Often our clients have been working around the clock, navigating multiple time zones, having make-up applied and removed for runway over and over each day, or they’ve just jumped off a long haul flight. So, we’ll work with gentle peels, hydrating dermal boosters and lipid dense masks and always with LED Light Therapy to promote circulation, collagen and elastin.”
Originally published as Paris Fashion Week: Aussie designers from Zimmermann to Christopher Esber are ruling the runway