Blue jeans, white tank, flannel shirt. In the end, it was one of the subtler looks from the Bottega Veneta spring/summer 2023 show that got the front row snapping and subsequently set Instagram alight. Sure, it was worn by Kate Moss, for whom a runway appearance is a happening these days. And sure, it turned out to be a not-so-simple combination of wafer-thin leather tank, leather trousers dyed to resemble faded jeans and a flannel shirt that required 12 layers of print to achieve that just-so colour. But it’s still surprising that “casual comfort”, as designer Matthieu Blazy put it post-show, can be considered one of the key references for the spring/summer 2023 fashion trends, even as we grapple with Barbiecore-meets-skin-galore.
Then again, perhaps it isn’t. If the industry has one eye on recession, with a slowdown on the cards, we could well be in for a return to quiet luxury in 2023. Think back to the normcore looks that defined the decade after the 2008 financial crisis, when brands dialled down the logos, packed up the partywear and embraced good old navy blue. Today’s equivalent might just be the muted suiting at The Row, the trusty leather coats at Saint Laurent, those timeless intrecciato bags at Bottega Veneta. Forever pieces, expertly executed.
Wait – does that sound like a snooze? If so, perhaps you’ll be the woman in cargo pants and a crop top come February, since designer upon designer is giving the utility proposition legs. And pockets – lots of pockets. From Marine Serre to Miu Miu, Chanel to Louis Vuitton, everything from leather jackets to miniskirts to khaki cotton coats and even tweed two-pieces came with zipped or buttoned pouches, Mr Fixit style. Speaking of tool-belt-wearing handymen, how about the trend revival nobody saw coming: power panniers? Consider that if the global economy’s sinking without a lifeboat to hand, you may as well be wearing Moschino’s evening gown-cum-floatation devices, complete with pool toy peplums. (“Everybody’s talking about inflation,” said Jeremy Scott.)
If you’d rather go down fighting, there’s a breastplate for that – see Gabriela Hearst, Loewe and Alexander McQueen, where metal and leather-coated moulded panels (and polished silver at Dolce & Gabbana, for all your Joan of Arc fantasies) stole the limelight. If you’d prefer to just party, see the riot of texture, glistening metallics and explosions of feathers that enlivened eveningwear. As for the only trend we can’t abide? The step backwards for inclusive casting.
Bucking the trend: Ester Manas, the French, Brussels-based designer making “clothes to welcome everyone” whose shows are fast becoming a must-see on account of the feel-good vibes they generate. For spring, she talked about “comfort” – “but beauty and sexiness too”. It sounded a little like Blazy’s Bottega proposal. Low-key luxury for everyone, anyone?