With the shows in Paris having just wrapped up for another season, fashion month has officially drawn to a close, giving us all a clear indication of what will be trending come Spring/Summer 2023. This season, the fashion weeks of New York, London, Milan and Paris served up an array of memorable moments (although none so memorable as Bella Hadid’s spray-on dress), unexpected twists (like the 68 pairs of identical twins that walked Gucci’s runway), street style in spades and breathtaking collections from the world’s most lauded fashion houses.
Here, we give you a rundown of some of the best shows and best looks from the Spring/Summer 2023 season.
Exploring the dialogue between fashion and power, Maria Grazia Chiuri tapped into the spirit of historical figure Catherine de Medici (renowned Italian noblewoman turned French queen). It was De Medici who was widely credited with introducing corsets, platform heels and Italian lace to the French court, all elements that Grazia Chiuri played with in her SS23 collection. From hoop cage skirts overlaid with black raffia lace to New Look skirts given a modern twist to relaxed corsetry, worn over flowing shirts — the nods to De Medici’s legacy were plain, and yet each was grounded firmly in the context of today — a balance Grazia Chiuri has always managed so well. The show itself was set within a grotto, constructed expertly by French artist Eva Jospin, while Grazia Chiuri called on Dutch choreographers Imre and Marne van Opstal to put together a live dance performance while the models walked.
Wanting to speak to ideas of identity and otherness, Gucci’s iconoclastic designer Alessandro Michele tracked down 68 sets of identical twins to present his new collection (apparently Michele’s mother was a twin) in a show that was captivating and surreal. Taking this idea to another level, Michele actually constructed his show in Milan in two parts – whereby it wasn’t until the very end that a partition dropped to reveal another whole audience and runway, as the twins finally came together to walk side-by-side. As for the collection itself, Michele presented clothes with his signature eclectic stamp, from Hollywood glitz to embroidered chinoiserie to stoic tailoring to sleek activewear — it was a masterclass in pulling disparate ideas together in a kind of post-modern harmony (but this is what we expect from Michele, after all) but more than that, felt like a comment on the importance of us all coming together to face the challenges of the world.
Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons said that they were excited by the idea of ‘clothes shaped by humanity’ in creating their SS23 collection for Prada. As such, the collection unfolded to reveal its delicious layers, boxy silhouettes opened up to reveal classic nighties, and dresses made using the same kind of paper that covered the set felt innovative and full of promise, peignoir tapped into Prada’s archive which was followed up by the kind of knitted sweaters and skirts that one might imagine Mrs. Prada herself wearing every day. It was subtle, sophisticated and nuanced, and went against the ‘go-big-or-go-home’ grain that we had seen at a number of other houses for SS23.
Set around a giant fibreglass anthurium, Jonathan Anderson’s SS23 collection for Loewe made comment on artifice in nature. The fake-looking flower not only set the scene for the runway but it was used on bodices and shoes — a provocative, new take on florals for spring that felt more dangerous than dainty. Elsewhere, exaggerated hip-silhouettes, ultra-mini dresses and experimental pieces made using materials like fibreglass and metal spoke to the designer’s well-known penchant for boundary-pushing, all of which sat alongside the kinds of supple leather pieces and oversized shirt dressing that feel inherently ‘Loewe.’ Proving once again his role as fashion provocateur, Jonathan Anderson delivered an SS23 collection that made us sit up and take note.
Tapping into the idea of fusion energy and its promise of a cleaner energy future, Gabriela Hearst arranged the seats of her Paris show to mimic the shape of a tokamak (a giant, round device that companies like Helion and Commonwealth Fusion Systems are using to try and harness fusion energy) and turned the Pavilion Vendôme into what felt like an industrial rave – sending clothes down the runway that married retro warehouse party vibes with power-plant uniform motifs. From recycled, sustainable fabrics (always expected from this designer) to strong, utilitarian silhouettes, Chloé SS23 offered a multi-sensory show scape of colours and textures that was futuristic, complex and compelling. Brand is available locally at Workshop.
A brand known for its ‘glamazonian’ aesthetic, Alaïa’s new SS23 collection saw designer Pieter Mulier offer a more contemporary take, with complex techniques like draping, wrapping, touching and knotting made to look utterly simple, all underpinned with Alaïa signatures, like knitted, figure-hugging dresses and suggestive stilettos (featuring heels in the shape of a naked woman’s legs) which were actually reissued Azzedine originals from 1992. Of course, there was also a raft of statement-making accessories (something Mulier does so well). Ultimately, each look felt undeniably glamorous and yet totally wearable, a balance on which this brand has long built its reputation. Brand is available locally at Faradays.
Set under drizzly skies, Matthew Williams’ SS23 collection for Givenchy drew from the historic codes of this beloved brand, married with the streetwear flavour of the designer’s own palate and built with the input of iconic Carine Roitfeld — who also styled the show. Perhaps guilty of trying to speak to too disparate a spread of consumers (or do too much), Givenchy’s new collection still ended on a high note, with a series of exquisite evening dresses — designs that had apparently been reworked from Givenchy archival pieces. Brand is available locally at Faradays.
It was a muddy, dark, post-apocalyptic scene that greeted attendees of Balenciaga’s SS23 show — in which models stomped through dirty puddles in a set that designer Demna indicated was a follow-on from his last show, set in a snowstorm. (When snow melts, it turns to mud.) Opened by Kanye West in military garb, the show saw models with battered and bruised faces wearing clothes that had been purposefully made to look battle-weary and worn. Mud splashed the hems of longer dresses and caked shoes. And while there were a number of graffiti tees, oversized hoodies and casual silhouettes at the start of the show, it closed with a number of evening-wear pieces, looking somewhat out of place in their terrifying landscape. Ultimately, the show was the expression of Demna’s pessimism — an outlook you can understand given his upbringing and past experiences and yet, perhaps it was also a sharp reminder to us to not be so apathetic, and perhaps that’s exactly what we needed.
It is undeniable that Isabel Marant has created a singular look — one that is very recognisable for its strong feminine edge and often thigh-grazing silhouettes. It is French cool girl at its most, well… cool, and SS23 was certainly no exception. Drawing inspiriting from the dawn of her brand (the late 90s, early 00s) Marant’s new pieces married grunge elements with boho detailing, all wrapped up in shapes that spoke of much much warmer climes. Where Marant has always shined is in her ability to treat outwardly casual pieces to a level of craft that goes well beyond the ordinary (think tiny tiny pearls sprinkled across a camisole or macramé woven onto organza). It is almost an allegory for the women she dresses. From perfectly-tapered trousers to oversized jackets to racer-cut tanks and little dresses, this collection was Marant at her best and an ode to her unique attention to detail. Brand is available locally at Workshop.
From the atmospheric candles that lined Versace’s set to the clingy-black jersey dresses that opened the show to the models sporting unmistakable, eyeliner-heavy makeup, Donatella Versace’s SS23 collection felt sexy, confident and slightly rebellious. Opening the show was a raft of solid-black looks, which then opened out to the bright, often-fuscia block colours that have become so synonymous with the brand. This season’s prints included zebra stripes, tropical flowers and logo mania, while shown alongside Versace’s evening-wear silhouettes was a line-up of denim that felt more casual than anything the brand has done for a while. Bella Hadid was a goth bride in all-purple, while Paris Hilton closed out the show in a barbie-pink, chain-mail dress.
Having invited his longtime friend, French artist Philippe Parreno to create an installation that would form the set for his SS23 show, Nicolas Ghesquière set a dramatic precedent for his new collection for Louis Vuitton, before the show had even started. Of course, the clothes that followed matched the drama and scale of their surroundings, with oversized, almost-alien proportions and exaggerated silhouettes. Take the huge zipper pulls from HoYeon Jung’s opening look — the biggest ever manufactured, apparently. This idea was furthered by the looks sporting exaggerated necklines or hips, or oversized straps and accessories. Ultimately, it was an expression of the idea that Ghesquière seems to always do so well, that of strong femininity, and it certainly felt like it met the moment.