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  • Writer's pictureAnna-Louise McDougall

Runway Roundup: FW23 Trend Report

Discover the top 12 trends from the Fall Winter 2023 fashion season as we round up the runways across New York, London, Paris and Milan. Want to download our full FW23 trend report? Click here.

With Versace rounding out Fall Winter 23 fashion month in Los Angeles, a move which blurred into the champagne-carpeted Oscars, it’s been a big one for fashion fanatics, buyers, editors, and brands. Roughly 250 designers showed off their imaginations and interpretations of clothing for right now, through runway shows available for everyone on live streams, influencer TikTok videos, and fashion insiders' Instagram pages.

The biggest trend of Fall Winter 23? The resounding return to real-life dressing, luxurious laid-back layers, and simply powerful and refined tailoring. A wardrobe of wearability, versatility, and longevity— and it is far from boring. Where gimmicks and celebrity stunts plowed through creative expression over the past few seasons, that kind of attention-grabbing charade felt stiff and awkward in the wake of the majority of designers leading Fall Winter 23 with their hearts on their sleeves.

Instead, it was the hyped debuts of designers at esteemed houses that served as the plays of the day. Harris Reed and Ludovic de Saint Sernin presented their first collections for Nina Ricci and Ann Demeulemeester, but it was Daniel Lee who took out the *Vogue Runway’s* most-viewed show, with his first run for Burberry. The Burberry show was followed by Christian Dior and Prada in second and third. Miu Miu and Gucci landed at number 4 and 5, respectively, as new entries to the top 10.

As we first saw in New York, the shows offered a major shift in practicality compared to post-pandemic collections where we were served tricky cut-outs, sheer fabrics, micro minis and a kaleidoscope of colour— all at once. This season, there was a focus on the quiet achievers of the wardrobe, in elevated streetwear, nouveau minimalism, contemporary femininity, and wearable glitz.

Designers went back to their roots to revisit the fundamentals of design, and new ways to mix masculine and feminine tailoring. The Row, as well as Hermès, Fendi, Chloe, Sacai and Miu Miu, proved the longevity of a muted colour palette, floor-length coats and monochrome layering. Pinstripes, tailored blazers, pencil skirts, and slim suit pants were having a renaissance, especially at Saint Laurent, Valentino, Dries van Noten, Undercover and Dior.

And where there was masculinity and sharp refinement, there was also a sense of overhauling the feminine. Curvature, hourglass and bustle shapes appeared at large this season in mini dresses, sensual in eveningwear, and cool and sophisticated in suiting. Interestingly, this kind of renewed modesty had the reverse results of size and body inclusivity on the runways; Tagwalk reported Milan had -77% of curvy models when compared to London’s fashion week casting. Will this translate into sizes that actually sell?

And with that, let’s dive into the top 12 trends, silhouettes, colours and textures set to make sartorial waves in the modern wardrobe now, and well into the future.

Power Shoulder

One of the more obvious silhouettes from the month— prominent, curved, and padded shoulders gave the American Psycho suit trope a modern new direction. Playing on masculine signifiers of the traditional office wardrobe, the strong and exaggerated shoulder made more sense for:

a) the work-life balance and

b) the ability to sartorially balance proportions.

Saint Laurent presented oversized pinstripe blazers and chocolate leather bomber jackets over silk blouses, Balenciaga’s first 10 looks were all-black slouchy suit jackets, while artfully sculpted shoulder details came to the fore at Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton, and Balmain. Courrèges took a more anatomical stance, with the oversized, rounded shoulders accessorized with the ever-bent neck of the mobile generation.

Heavy Metals

With the photo-ready generation influencing ‘moments’ to be had, there’s just no substitute for metallic colors, shiny sequins, and scintillating embellishments.From Gucci to Balenciaga and 16 Arlington, chinking, rustling and delicate metals were out in force.

Not one for the conventional, Rick Owens leaned into matte sequins in muted tones of lime green and soft pink, while it was quite the reverse at Paco Rabanne, where metallic chainmail dresses and multi-layered reflective feathers made the case for red carpet sensations.

No Pants, No Problem

Not for the faint of heart, this leggy trend peaked at Miu Miu, where the micro mini skirt was cast aside for pant-less looks. Whether it was Miuccia Prada’s humorous take on the modern woman’s post-pilates wardrobe, or Simkhai’s glitzy boyfriend tailoring there were plenty of excuses for bare or stockinged legs beneath oversized puffer jackets and bombers, long-line blazers, and sheer skirts. Christian Siriano’s black tie versions were surprisingly wearable, while Area and Sergio Hudson chose to let up-top do all the talking with sharply cut highlighter-yellow blazers. Puppets and Puppets went for boudoir-style lace stockings to style with bustiers and risque lingerie.

Black & White

There’s been a lot of monochrome chatter over the month, particularly with the resurgence of simple tailoring— but there was fun to be had. Nothing says classical chic quite like high-contrast black and white, especially where Parisians are concerned. The runways were at times, taken over with the timeless chess piece, or checkerboard combos, from Issey Miyake to Valentino, where Piccioli took a dramatic shift from Valentino pink. Chanel played the French look to her advantage in polka dots, tweed, cardigans and knitwear, and all sorts of camelia embroideries and motifs.

Quiet Utility

As opposed to the all-out, ready-for-action utility designs of late, workwear and outdoor designs have relaxed into a feminine and functional equilibrium. Burberry focused more on youthful, throw-on utilitarian outerwear with hiking gear-style trousers and heavy-duty climbing boots. Johanna Parv for Fashion East picked up where 90s Prada left, with hoods, cargo skirts, and trapeze coats for the modern urbanite. At Sacai, designer Chitose Abe opted for the deconstruction of traditionally made garments, shifting proportions and sewing patches for a beautifully pragmatic finish.

Boudoir Black Lace

Call it the Barbie pink antithesis, but boudoir-style lace looks came out of the dark in moody, sultry, and spectacular ways. Masterful lace artistry was executed in droves, from Alexander Wang and Anna Sui, to Jason Wu and Carolina Herrera (under Wes Gordon) who offered intricate and feminine gowns.

Rodarte’s gothic fairies relieved us of plain pragmatism with black lace in sheer panels, oversized collars, and dramatic veils. Dilara Findikoglu rendered traditional shapewear and restrictive corsetry for the modern woman, while Erdem’s widow-wear slips and black organza sited, “a push-and-pull between gothic Victoriana and rebellious wantonness”. Turkish designer Bora Aksu’s brood looked to crochet, bonnets, bunny ears, and lace like a Halloween episode of Little House on the Prairie.

Scarlet Letter

The bigger, the bolder, the better. In a season that doubled down on pulling back, some designers just couldn’t ignore that powerful impact of all-out scarlet red. Lingerie queen Nensi Dojaka injected a fiery assortment of pretty red party styles amongst all the black, while David Koma’s show was a tribute to classic red nails that appeared in sequin dresses, ruffle skirts, and woolen evening stoles. Ferragamo continued to gun for the siren hue as the label’s signature colour, offering a striking red pantsuit and leather trench.

Puffer Up

The Saturday morning puffer jacket was put to work across the month, inflated to epic proportions that le