AW23 is emphatically female-focussed, kicking off with supermodel mania – that Vogue cover, the Apple series and a Linda Evangelista book – and continuing with a slew of women-championing exhibitions. We’ve also got the big Phoebe Philo reveal to come, as well as a focus on revivalist classic fashion (aka gentlewoman style). For this you can easily shop your closet, or consider buying pre-loved – the quality may be better and so may the price. “The connection between instability in the economy and consumers’ desire for classic, quality pieces that retain value is certainly at play, as is the cultural zeitgeist,” Kelly McSweeney, senior merchandising manager at The RealReal, told WWD. Chanel flap bags, Bottega Intrecciato and Louis Vuitton Speedys are the bags most popular with Gen Z, while “floopy” (read: well worn) icon bags like Hermes Birkins in ‘fair’ condition are also doing good business.
1/ DECONSTRUCTED CLASSICS. Gucci shocked everyone with its anti-Alessandro Michele show in February, created by the ‘team’ before we see Sabato De Sarno’s vision unveiled in a few weeks. Notable looks included anti-fit jeans (below), pleat front pants* (below), a supersized boxy blazer and a gargantuan gabardine trench coat* nodding to early Vetements and 90s Margiela. Saint Laurent’s mega power-dressing (below) is also interesting as a clear reaction to the overload of sweats and leggings that have assaulted our eyes in recent years.
2/ HAUTE HIGH STREET. High Street brands have wasted no time in working with high end classicists to deliver (relatively) affordable pieces with in-built longevity rather than inbuilt obsolescence. We love to see it! Peter Do x Banana Republic drops in October; Clare Waight Keller x Uniqlo lands September 15th, while Arket just teamed up with tastemaker and stylist Suzanne Koller to inject some of her off-kilter magic into its wardrobe essentials* (below). Meanwhile Zara has tapped into the 90s nostalgia moment with this surprise Steven Meisel collab (below). That said, I’m not sure how much mileage ‘quiet luxury’ is going to have beyond one season. I suspect we’ll quickly tire of immaculate taste and will be craving some wonk and weirdness by spring.
3/ BIG KNIT ENERGY. All-enveloping knits are my MO for winter and Lauren Manoogian has cornered the market in XXL power neutrals. Her slouchy, slubby crew necks and alpaca shawl-collar cardigans in colours like ‘mushroom’, pumice’ and ‘pebble’ are designed to highlight their hand-made-in-Peru credentials (below). Slightly less voluminous: the eco sweaters from Babaà. So many to choose from, but my fave is the jumper no51 mist.
4/ OR LITTLE GREY SWEATER. Alternatively, the small grey sweater is making big strides. Pair a charcoal crew neck (I have this merino one from Benetton*) with a decorative midi skirt as seen at Prada (below), a voluminous circle skirt as at Officine Générale (below), or tie it like a scarf over your coat like The Row wannabes (below). Use a brooch a la this Erdem shot in Vanity Fair (below) to adjust the volume as required – I’m into this Wales Bonner stunner. Meanwhile, if you want a short sleeve cashmere crew, Miu Miu* is the best one out there.
5/ SHARRPEN YOUR PENCIL. If summer was all about micro minis and shorts, autumn is about the midi pencil skirt. Dior planted this seed in my head with its gamine midi dress, ankle strap heels and socks combo (below), and L’Etiquette magazine cemented it with this midi-Mary-Jane-and-blazer trifecta (below). For cooler weather, swap out the shoes for tall boots, Sacai style (below).
6/ SENSIBLE BAGS. The tote returns now we’re back on the office commute, but the shape du jour is a structured-slouchy hybrid. Structured enough for polish but soft enough for comfort. The Serapian Secret bag* has dimples to give it a ‘floopy’ lived-in effect, while the Loewe Puzzle Fold Tote* (below) has a clever origami-like construction that folds flat for packing. Out of the office it’s all about the pastoral pursuit bags. Look out for Labour & Wait’s Brady pop-up from 16-24 September selling these timeless Small Ariel Trout bags (below), first introduced in 1928 and now Brady’s most popular design. Also of interest, this Toogood x Porter Yoshida & Co collab featuring a range of utility bags from the Grocer Bag to the Reporter Satchel in Porter’s distinctive hardwearing nylon twill.
7/ PETIT PUFFERS. I’d really like to see more cocktail puffers, as demonstrated by Dior teamed with midi skirt and ankle socks (below). Puffers have been the dominant outerwear for years but they’re so… inelegant! Dior and Hermes both showed cropped silhouettes and I’m hoping the high street will follow suit.
8/ STRAIGHT AND NARROW. Much as I love an old school baggy chino, no-one seems to be making the ones I want for women. So I’m going the other way, towards sharp-cut, high waist cigarette pants. Prada showed the perfect example for men in January, teamed with a heavy tread derby (below), while the women’s version also works with a spiky high heel (below), mini cone heel or flat Mary Jane if you get the length right.
9/ VINYL REVIVAL. To counter all the discreet tailored classics, it’s good to see some high shine drama coming through. As always, I like a contrast such as a vinyl* (or vinyl-look) mac* over well-worn denim or utility garb. Or maybe a ‘boring’ school uniform sweater with an Alaia shiny midi circle skirt*. This idea translates especially well to accessories. Patent-leather Mary Janes*, a patent-leather shopper* or even an immaculately applied glossy black mani* all answer the brief.
10/ TO-DO LIST. Sooo many female-focussed exhibitions and cultural events.This month sees Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto open at the V&A on 16th September. Looking at the woman and the legacy, it’s bound to be extremely popular so allow plenty of time. (I have the book, which is highly recommended.) I’m also looking forward to Jacqueline Rabun A Retrospective at Carpenters Workshop Gallery from 20th September. A forerunner of the tactile, sculptural jewellery forms so popular today, this show collates more than 250 pieces from Rabun’s collection alongside archive drawings and photos. Tapping into the contemporary fetish for artists’ personal effects, Joan Didion: What She Means at Pérez Art Museum Miami (until 7th January 2024) features more than 200 personal objects, artworks and ephemera in an exploration of the writer’s life, work and influence on culture. And later this year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will show Women Dressing Women (from 7th December, below), tracing the history of fashion and its role in enabling economic freedom and independence via the museum’s archive of female designer fashion. Meanwhile, at the cinema, I’m looking forward to Sofia Coppola’s portrayal of Priscilla Presley and teen girlhood. And for the bookshelf, Behind the Gloss*, Tamara Sturtz-Filby’s unveiling of the “true stories of the 1970s fashion world”, and Extremely Online*, Taylor Lorenz’s highly anticipated analysis of contemporary influencer culture.
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WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Johnny Dufort for T Magazine; Gucci x 2; Saint Laurent; Arket; Zara; Lauren Manoogian x 2; Prada; Officine Générale; The Row; Erdem/ Vanity Fair; Dior; L’Etiquette; Sacai; Loewe; Brady; Dior; Prada x 2; L’Etiquette; Harrods magazine; Metropolitan Museum of Art
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links* and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here
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