Fashion Week Paris

The Ultimate Guide to Paris Fashion Week: Haute Couture, Homme & Prêt-À-Porter

Paris Fashion Week
COURTESY OF FENDI | PHOTO: ARR

What's the difference between the different Paris Fashion Week shows?

Twice a year, Paris transforms into the epicenter of the global fashion world for an entire month dedicated to the latest runway shows and clothing collections. For fashion lovers and industry insiders alike, Paris Fashion Week is a can’t miss event full of glamour, innovation, and outfits setting the trends for seasons to come.

But Paris doesn’t actually host just one Fashion Week – there are three separate weeks dedicated to different types of clothing that all fall under the “Paris Fashion Week” umbrella. They are:

  1. Haute Couture Week: High fashion, made-to-order designs
  2. Homme Week: Menswear collections
  3. Prêt-à-Porter Week: Ready-to-wear women’s clothing

So what exactly is the difference between Haute Couture, Homme, and Prêt-à-Porter when it comes to Paris Fashion Week? I’ll break it down so you have a better understanding of each distinct week and the one-of-a-kind designs being unveiled on the Paris runways.

HAUTE COUTURE WEEK

Paris Fashion Week Couture
CREDIT: CAROLINE BLUMBERG/EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTOCK

The most exclusive of Fashion Weeks, Haute Couture is French for “High Fashion” or “High Dressmaking.” This invite-only event is strictly for established fashion houses that meet the rigorous criteria set by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture trade association in Paris.

To qualify as an Official Haute Couture House, brands must design made-to-order pieces both in their workshop (atelier) in Paris as well as create custom sized garments for private clients that require multiple intricate fittings. These breathtaking, one-of-a-kind creations often take teams of skilled craftspeople hundreds of hours of painstaking handwork to complete, from intricate embroidery and beading to rare feathers and luxurious fabrics.

Only a handful of heritage French brands hold Official Haute Couture status, including legends like Chanel, Christian Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier. Attending the Haute Couture shows is an experience like no other – with lots of glitz, exclusive red carpet photo ops and dresses with price tags well into the six figures.

HOMME WEEK

Paris Fashion Week Homme
Photo: Alfredo Piola via Dior Press

Translating to menswear, Paris Homme Fashion Week focuses on the latest fashion trends and innovations for men. Many legendary designers got their start crafting impeccably tailored suiting and expertly cut separates for the men’s market.

And some fashion houses, like Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Dior Homme, have always placed a strong emphasis on their menswear collections even as they expanded into women’s clothing over time. Others pursue men’s fashion as a way to round out their artistic vision under one roof. Homme Fashion Week has seen rising stars like Rick Owens, Off-White and Ami gain global recognition in recent years through their cutting edge takes on classic pieces.

The runways displays at Homme have a sharper, subcultural bent – think interesting pairings like patchwork leather biker jackets with crochet sneakers or graffiti-print suits layered over graphic sweatshirts. And the front row is filled with young musicians, actors, athletes and cool kid influencers rather than haute couture’s old guard of aristocrats. Homme sets the bar for what stylish guys will be coveting each season.

PRÊT-À-PORTER 

Paris Fashion Week runway
Photo: Yohji Yamamoto

By far the largest and most widely attended Paris Fashion Week is Prêt-à-Porter, French for “Ready-to-Wear.” Each season sees over 90 runway shows taking place presenting the new women’s wear collections that will end up hanging in stores and online for purchase during the seasons ahead.

There is tremendous variety under the Prêt-à-Porter banner in terms of designers, price points and aesthetics. Showcases range from legendary luxury mega-brands like Louis Vuitton and Dior to young emerging talents unveiling their graduate collections for the first time. There are also several Off-Calendar and independent runway shows sprinkled throughout.

Prêt-à-Porter provides crucial insight into upcoming trends – whether it’s patterns, colors, silhouettes, fabrics or styling details. Retailers take note to inform their production and merchandising strategies. Fashion media eagerly covers all the latest looks coming down the Paris runways each season to report back on what styles consumers can expect to shop next.

While not as exclusive small scale as Couture Week, Paris Fashion Week Prêt-à-Porter still commands star power and extravagance at every turn. Front rows burst with famous It-girls, actresses and models taking notes on how to wear each look. In the end, Prêt-à-Porter represents the full range of Parisian fashion creativity – from prodigy designers just starting out all the way up to iconic legacy houses that command global interest in their newest collections.

THE UPCOMING PARIS FASHION WEEK COLLECTION 

As Paris Fashion Week AW24 approaches, all eyes turn to the upcoming Pre-à-Porter showcase, slated for February 26th to March 5th, 2024. Following the recent haute couture and menswear events, this week promises a diverse array of ready-to-wear collections, embodying the essence of accessible style and contemporary trends.

As designers prepare to unveil their latest creations, the fashion world eagerly anticipates the unique blend of established luxury brands and emerging talents that define Pre-à-Porter. From the runway to the streets, this event serves as a celebration of fashion’s universal appeal and its ability to inspire and unite individuals from all walks of life.

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