Paris: Fashion’s Beating Heart. The City of Legendary Fashion Moments


close up portrait image showing a model wearing an insect like mask with antennae in front of a red background

Oh boy, where do I even begin with Thierry Mugler’s 1997 insect-inspired couture collection?

This wasn’t just a fashion show; it was a full-on, no-holds-barred extravaganza that had the fashion world buzzing (pun very much intended).

First of all, let’s talk about the sheer audacity of the concept.

Mugler wasn’t content with just making pretty dresses; he wanted to transform his models into living, breathing works of art. And by art, I mean he turned them into freakin’ bugs. 

That’s right; the models strutted down the runway looking like they had just crawled out of some sort of chic, high-fashion cocoon.

But here’s the thing: These weren’t just some cheap Halloween costumes. Oh no, Mugler’s attention to detail was absolutely mind-boggling. 

Each piece was a masterclass in craftsmanship, with intricate stitching, delicate embellishments, and tailoring so precise it would make a neurosurgeon jealous.

Paris, the City of Love, has long been fashion’s epicenter. 

Its streets have been graced by the footsteps of legendary designers, its boutiques have housed the most coveted collections, and its runways have witnessed the birth of countless iconic moments. 

From the grand halls of the Louvre to the intimate salons of the city’s ateliers, Paris has served as the beating heart of the fashion industry, pumping creativity, innovation, and style into the veins of the world.

Today, we embark on a journey through the annals of Parisian fashion history, exploring the most legendary moments that have defined the city’s sartorial legacy. 

These moments not only shaped the course of fashion but also reflected the cultural, social, and political climate of their time, cementing Paris as the undisputed capital of style.

As we navigate through the decades, we will encounter the daring and the avant-garde, the elegant and the refined, the provocative and the revolutionary. 

Paris has been at the forefront of every major fashion movement.

Join us as we pay homage to the city that has nurtured the dreams of aspiring designers, inspired generations of fashion enthusiasts, and left an indelible mark on the global fashion landscape.

1.Thierry Mugler’s Insect-Inspired Couture (1997)

close up portrait image showing a model wearing the same yellow and black insect mask with antennae posing in front of a grey background

And don’t even get me started on the materials. Mugler wasn’t content with just using plain old fabric; he wanted to push the boundaries of what was possible. 

It was like he raided a mad scientist’s lab and said, “I’ll take one of everything, please.”

The end result was a collection that was equal parts beautiful and bizarre. 

Models sashayed down the runway in exoskeleton-like structures and iridescent fabrics that shimmered like insect wings. 

But perhaps the most impressive thing about the collection was how it perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the late 1990s. 

In a time when the fashion world was hungry for innovation, Mugler served up a feast of creativity that left everyone salivating for more.

2.Rick Owens’ Human Backpack Show (2016)

runway image showing rick Owens models wearing their full size human backpacks

Image Credit: REXUSA

Alright, buckle up because we’re about to dive into the wild and wacky world of Rick Owens’ 2016 Human Backpack Show. 

Models strutting down the runway, looking all chic and glamorous, but wait, what’s that on their backs? Is that… another person? Yes, you heard that right. 

Rick Owens had his models carrying other human beings like they were the latest must-have accessory. 

A high-fashion version of a piggyback ride, except instead of giggling children, it was stone-faced models.

But before you start thinking this was just some sort of fashion stunt, let me tell you, there was a whole lot of deep, intellectual stuff going on behind the scenes. 

Owens wasn’t just trying to make a fashion statement; he was making a commentary on the weight of human connections and how they shape our identities. 

And can we talk about the technical challenges of creating these human backpacks? I mean, it’s not like you can just throw a person on someone’s back and call it a day. 

Owens had to make sure these designs were structurally sound, comfortable for both the carrier and the carried, and still looked good on the runway. 

runway image showing rick Owens models wearing their full size human backpacks

Image Credit: Francois Durand/Getty Images 

And oh boy, did people have opinions. 

Some were all about it, praising Owens for his bold creativity and avant-garde vision. 

Others were like, “What the heck did I just watch?” and condemned the whole thing as a gimmick. 

But you know what they say, any publicity is good publicity, and Owens definitely got people talking.

So, the next time you see someone walking down the street with another person on their back, don’t be alarmed. 

They’re probably just trying to make a fashion statement. 

And if anyone asks, just tell them you saw it first at Rick Owens’ Human Backpack Show. 

Trust me; they’ll be impressed.

3.Chanel’s Supermarket Runway (2014)

image from the fashion show, showing around 6-7 models walking around with groceries in their hands while wearing Chanel ready to wear outfits

Image Credit: Gio Staiano/

In 2014, the Grand Palais in Pari was transformed into a gigantic supermarket, complete with shelves stocked with Chanel-branded goodies

I know right, absolutely mind-boggling. 

From the meticulously designed packaging to the fully functional checkout counters, every aspect of the set was crafted with the precision of a Chanel suit. 

But here’s the best part: The models didn’t just strut down the aisles; they literally went shopping. 

They casually picked up products, tossed them into their Chanel-branded baskets, and even chatted with each other as if they were just out for a quick grocery run. 

It was a brilliant commentary on the interplay between fashion and everyday life, and it had the audience in stitches.

Speaking of stitches, let’s talk about the clothes. 

Chanel’s collection was a masterclass in blending couture with the mundane. 

Models wore tweed suits accessorized with shopping baskets and carried purses that looked like packaged foods. 

But beneath all the playfulness and humor, there was a deeper message at work. 

By placing luxury fashion in the context of a supermarket, Chanel was making a statement about consumerism, branding, and the commodification of luxury. 

It was a clever critique of the ways in which we consume and desire, all wrapped up in a stylish package.

Chanel’s Supermarket Runway set a new standard for immersive fashion experiences, inspiring designers around the world to think outside the traditional runway box. 

4.Alexander McQueen’s Spray Paint Dress (1999)

Image from the show after the originally white dress has been covered by spray paint from the two robot arms on either side of the model

The 1999 runway show by Alexander McQueen featured one of the most iconic moments in fashion history: model Shalom Harlow standing on a rotating platform, being spray-painted by robotic arms. 

This spectacle was not just a display of innovative design but a profound intersection of fashion, art, and technology. 

The image of Harlow being transformed in real-time captivated the audience, symbolizing McQueen’s genius in merging different disciplines to create something truly revolutionary.

McQueen’s spray paint dress was a masterful blend of art and technology, showcasing how fashion could transcend traditional boundaries. 

The themes of transformation and vulnerability were central to this performance.

As the pristine white dress was splattered with paint, it transformed into a unique piece of art, emphasizing the transient nature of beauty and fashion. 

The original all white dress worn by the model before it got covered by spray paint

Harlow’s exposed position on the rotating platform underscored the vulnerability of the human body within the context of high fashion, prompting viewers to reflect on the relationship between the wearer and the garment.

The technical challenges of choreographing such a performance were immense. 

Ensuring the model’s safety while coordinating the precise movements of the robotic arms required meticulous planning and execution. 

McQueen’s spray paint dress challenged conventional notions of beauty and perfection. 

The randomness of the paint application meant that each resulting design was imperfect and unique, a stark contrast to the often rigid standards of fashion perfection. 

5.The Bikini’s Debut at the Piscine Molitor (1946)

Black and white vintage image showing Micheline Bernardini posing in front of a camera wearing the bikini

1946, where the sun was shining, the water was glistening, and the bikini was about to make its grand debut at the Piscine Molitor in Paris. 

It’s post-war France, and society is ready for a change. 

Women are tired of being covered up from head to toe, and they’re ready to let loose and show off a little skin. 

Enter Louis Réard, the French engineer who had a vision for a swimsuit that was as tiny as it was revolutionary.

He wanted to make a statement, and boy, did he ever. 

The bikini was named after the site of atomic bomb tests, and Réard famously claimed that it wasn’t a real bikini unless it could be pulled through a wedding ring. 

Talk about audacious marketing!

But the thing is, not everyone was ready for this level of skin-baring boldness. 

Finding models willing to wear the bikini was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Eventually, Réard had to hire a nude dancer named Micheline Bernardini to model the bikini at the Piscine Molitor. 

And let’s just say, she made quite the splash.

The public reaction was a mix of shock, awe, and a whole lot of pearl-clutching. 

Of course, the bikini didn’t become a staple of beachwear overnight. 

It took time for society to catch up to Réard’s vision. 

But slowly but surely, the bikini began to gain acceptance, thanks in no small part to its adoption by Hollywood stars and its appearance in popular culture.

6.Viktor & Rolf’s Wearable Art (2015)

runway image showing the model walking towards the camera wearing a literal pice of art, frame included and everything for the viktor & Rolf fashion show

Image Credit: Viktor & Rolf

Viktor & Rolf’s 2015 Wearable Art collection was not your average fashion show; it was a full-on art exhibition that just happened to be happening on a runway.

These mad scientists of fashion took the idea of “wearable art” to a whole new level. 

They didn’t just create clothes; they created living, breathing sculptures that walked, talked, and probably even sang opera in the shower. 

And let’s talk about those materials for a second. Viktor & Rolf didn’t just go to the fabric store and call it a day. 

No, they raided an art supply store and said, “Let’s put all of this on a human body and see what happens.” 

The result was a collection that was equal parts mind-bending and awe-inspiring.

But this wasn’t just art for art’s sake. Viktor & Rolf had some deep thoughts brewing beneath those avant-garde surface. 

They were exploring the relationship between clothing and identity, asking questions like, “What if we combine the expression of art and clothes into one medium. Literally!” and “Is fashion just a way to cover our bodies, or can it be something more?”

landscape image showing another outfit from the show but this time with a replica of the outfit on the wall in the background as an actual painting

Image Credit: Viktor & Rolf

Some people (ME) looked at these wearable sculptures and thought, “How am I supposed to sit down in that?” But that was precisely the point. 

Viktor & Rolf weren’t interested in creating clothes for your everyday life; they were interested in creating art that just happened to be wearable.

And boy, did they succeed. The fashion world sat up and took notice, and suddenly, everyone wanted a piece of the wearable art pie. 

7.Balenciaga Everything Coat (2018)

runway image showing male model walking towards the camera wearing the everything coat

Now, it’s time to talk about the fashion moment that had everyone and their mama talking in 2018: Balenciaga’s Everything Coat. 

A fashion statement that took a beloved TV moment and turned it into a viral sensation that had fashionistas and couch potatoes alike sitting up and taking notice.

For those of you who need a refresher, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane to that iconic scene from _Friends_ where Joey Tribbiani decides to wear all of Chandler’s clothes at once. 

screenshot from the 'friends' sitcom which shows Joey wearing all of the jackets at once

It was a moment that had us all in stitches, but little did we know that it would inspire a fashion revolution years later.

Enter Demna Gvasalia, the mad genius behind Balenciaga’s designs. 

He took one look at that scene and thought, “You know what? Let’s make a coat out of that.” And thus, the Everything Coat was born.

Now, let’s be real: This coat was not for the faint of heart. 

It was a wild, exaggerated creation that threw practicality out the window in favor of pure, unadulterated fashion. 

With its multiple layers and oversized proportions, it was like wearing a sculpture rather than a garment. 

Gvasalia wasn’t interested in making a coat that you could actually wear on a chilly day. 

The Everything Coat was a masterclass in using humor and cultural references to create a fashion moment that would go down in history. 

By tapping into the collective nostalgia for _Friends_, Balenciaga created a garment that was both instantly recognizable and completely unique. 

And of course we will never forget the boat load of memes.

One of the memes from the oversized jacket trend showing a child With a huge puffer jacket photoshopped onto him

8.The “Battle of Versailles” Fashion Show (1973)


We’re taking a wild ride back to 1973, where the “Battle of Versailles” Fashion Show went down in history as the ultimate showdown between American and French designers. 

Image from the vent showing 4 female models of different races who participated in the show wearing stylish dresses.

A cultural clash of epic proportions that would forever change the way we look at fashion.

You had the French couturiers on one side, all prim and proper with their traditional elegance, and then you also had the American designers on the other, ready to shake things up with their fresh, innovative ideas. 

It was like watching two heavyweight champions go head-to-head in the ring.

The thing is, this battle wasn’t just about fashion. 

It was a reflection of the changing times, a nod to the civil rights and gender equality movements that were sweeping the nation. 

The “Battle of Versailles” wasn’t just a fashion show; it was a statement about the power of diversity and inclusion.

And boy, did the American designers bring it. 

They came out swinging with their bold colors, minimalist designs, and sportswear-inspired looks. 

Taking everything we thought we knew about fashion and turning it on its head. 

Halston, Anne Klein, and Stephen Burrows were the MVPs of the night, proving that American fashion was a force to be reckoned with.

But the real stars of the show? 

The African American models who graced the runway with their confident struts and fierce poses. 

Their presence was a game-changer, breaking down racial barriers in an industry that had long been dominated by a narrow standard of beauty. 

It was a moment that would go down in history as a turning point for diversity in fashion.

9.Balenciaga’s Post-Apocalyptic Runway (2020)

Image of the immersive environment created by Balenciaga, showing ocean waves both on the floor and on the ceiling.

Image Credit: @lesfaçons [IG]

It’s 2020, and the world is in a state of chaos. 

Pandemics, environmental disasters, and societal upheaval have left us all feeling like we’re living in a dystopian novel. 

And then, in walks Balenciaga with their Post-Apocalyptic Runway show, ready to shake things up even more.

This wasn’t your typical fashion show. No, no, no. 

This was a full-on immersive experience that transported the audience to a world that felt all too familiar.

Balenciaga had taken a peek into our collective nightmares and said, “Hey, let’s make a fashion show out of this!”

Model styled in Balenciaga walking horizontally across, walking on water in the immersive environment created by Balenciaga.

Image Credit: Imaxtree

Recycled fabrics? Check. Deconstructed garments? You bet. 

It was like Mad Max meets haute couture, and we were all here for it.

It was a bold commentary on the state of the world, a reflection of the anxieties and hopes that we were all grappling with. 

Balenciaga had managed to take the pulse of society and translate it into a collection that was as thought-provoking as it was visually stunning.

So, what can we take away from all of this? Well, for one thing, it’s clear that fashion has the power to reflect and shape our world in ways we never imagined. 

And in times of crisis, it can be a beacon of hope, a reminder that even in the darkest of times, creativity and innovation can light the way.

But more than that, Balenciaga’s Post-Apocalyptic Runway was a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. 

It showed us that even in the face of adversity, we can find beauty, inspiration, and even a little bit of humor. 

And that, my friends, is what fashion is all about.

10.Louis Vuitton’s Escalator Runway (2013)

Image showing all the models walking out at once both standing on the stage and on the escalators behind for the Louis Vuitton runway show

Image Credit: firstVIEW

We’ve heard it countless times: Fashion shows are all about the glitz, the glamor, and the jaw-dropping moments that leave audiences in awe. 

Well, it seems that Louis Vuitton took that concept to new heights (literally!) with their escalator runway back in 2013. 

Putting together an escalator runway is no easy feat. 

It takes some serious planning and precision to make sure those models glide down the escalators like clockwork. 

But Louis Vuitton was definitely  up for the challenge.

By incorporating escalators into the runway, Louis Vuitton flipped the script on traditional fashion shows. 

Instead of models just strutting their stuff, they were on a journey, descending gracefully as the audience watched in wonder. 

A fashion fairytale unfolding before your eyes.

Seeing those models gliding down the escalators, one after another, in a mesmerizing display of fashion magic  was like watching a high-fashion version of a synchronized swimming routine.

Making a bold  statement about the intersection of technology and fashion, showing how the two could come together to create something truly special. 

It was a reflection of the times, a nod to the progress and modernity that defined the era.