There was a sense of understatement that anchored the Fall 2023 collections unveiled over the last few days at Milan Fashion Week. Dubbed ‘stealth wealth,’ by some, ‘bland-standing’ by others, it was fashion’s reaction to the times in which we live. The tide on ostentatious logo bashing has turned in a big way and luxury fashion is (rightly) shifting focus.
For the upcoming season, the value of a garment will be determined, it seems, by cut and fabrication‚ and not so much for its viral runway or street style moments. It also speaks to our collective ‘ick’ at wearing clothes that are very clearly expensive. Fashion that clearly signified wealth might have carried clout last year, but now, all it delivers is a good dose of cringe. In the absence of outrageous logomania or over-the-top collections, the standout moments at this recent Milan Fashion Week speak to those who appreciate the incredible craft (and craftspeople) at play in this industry.
From Matthieu Blazy’s exceptional high-fashion-for-real-life at Bottega Veneta (many insiders crowned it their favourite collection of the week) to Prada’s contemporary uniform and an interim collection by Gucci’s design team that pulled from a number of the brand’s iconic house codes (Gucci’s new creative director, Sabato De Sarno, will show his first collection in September), there was plenty to get excited about in Milan. Here we round up the key shows and the style takeaways you need to know for the season ahead.
“Mainly what I care about now is to give importance to what is modest, to value modest jobs, simple jobs, and not only extreme beauty or glamour.” Miuccia Prada on Fall 2023
The idea of a uniform reinvented underpinned the aesthetic at Prada’s Fall 2023 collection. From military motifs made for the contemporary wardrobe to the revival of the skirt (a trend that has been brewing for the last few seasons) in a variety of shapes and iterations to pieces that elevated everyday wear in interesting structural and stylistic ways (think puffy parkas and miniskirts and impeccable, versatile tailoring) Prada demonstrated, once again, why it is so universally revered, season to season. Here, the idea was to enhance reality, not escape from it, resulting in a collection that felt deeply tethered to now, and to the kind of longevity and practicality (and pizzazz) that people really want from their wardrobes.
“It’s about real dressing: that Italian sophisticated woman who you know, that becomes global.” Kim Jones on Fall 2023
Spinning Fendi’s beloved house codes into a fresh offering, Kim Jones did what he does best at Milan Fashion Week and served up a collection that both honoured the house at which he is the artistic director of womenswear, and gave us something new. Here, Jones called on menswear principles like strong silhouettes and tailoring to deliver a sophisticated edge to his delicate, feminine aesthetic. In fact, Jones garnered inspiration from Delfina Delettrez Fendi’s own personal style, which resulted in the prevailing tones of blue and brown, as well as the pleated skirting and the super-high, clear-heeled boots that marched down the runway.
“The show unfolds within the anatomy of the House… In the inner sanctum of the Gucci Hub… Surrounded by seats crafted in innovative Demetra material, spherical podiums represent the collaborative circularity at the heart of Gucci’s creative community.” Gucci show notes for Fall 2023
Until Gucci’s new Creative Director Sabato de Sarno takes the reins officially in September (when his first collection for the house will be unveiled) it is down to the wider Gucci design team to engineer the brand’s interim collections together. For Fall 2023, the creative talent on hand in the brand’s workroom was clear, with a line-up that pulled from a number of iconic house codes (from sexy, Tom Ford-era silhouettes to hints of Alessandro Michele’s renowned eclecticism) and felt distinctly detached from specific trends. Accessories saw a revival of horse-bit handbags, double G buckles, elongated sunglasses and more. It was a parade of revived Gucci signatures that felt like it was preparing us for the brand’s new direction come September.
“When staging the everyday, Giorgio Armani consistently suggests clothes that bring out the person, not the character.” Giorgio Armani show notes for Fall 2023
In creating a collection that ultimately, felt overwhelmingly optimistic, playful and fun, Giorgio Armani drew inspiration from the culture of Elizabethan theatre. Theatrical costume tropes were interwoven with Armani’s signature tailoring to create pieces that were fresh, modern and chic — think woollen berets, form-fitting jackets, skirt-and-silk-blouse pairings and textiles that tied with iridescent tones or eye-catching embroidery. With a colour palette inspired by the work of photographer Guy Bourdin (deep blues paired with swathes of pink and purples, often set against stoic neutrals, blacks and greys) this collection, again, puts a unique twist on the idea of everyday-wear and was a standout of the week.
“I wanted to look at what makes people gather together in a place without hierarchy, where everyone is invited.” Matthieu Blazy on Bottega Veneta Fall 2023
Deemed a triumph by almost every fashion insider in attendance, Matthieu Blazy’s Fall 2023 collection for Bottega Veneta was a masterclass — both conceptually and in terms of craft. Blazy, inspired by the idea of Carnevale, wanted to create clothes that felt devoid of hierarchy, clothes to which everyone felt welcome, and he did this via looks that were disparate and varied (here, there really was something for everyone). Standout moments were around the designer’s unique fabrication (creating weightless leather pieces that did not look like they were crafted from leather at all or a fringed coat that looked embroidered by had actually been woven in one piece). Ultimately it was a joyful, sophisticated, inherently wearable collection that drew the fashion world willingly into Blazy’s universe and made him one of the most exciting names to watch at the moment.