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Translated by
Nicola Mira
Oct 10, 2022
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5 minutes
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Womenswear shows: 10 summer 2023 trends, between optimism and concern

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Oct 10, 2022

Two strong, contrasting trends have been brought to the fore by the fashion weeks presenting the women’s ready-to-wear collections for Spring/Summer 2023. On the one hand, an explosion of vitality and nonchalance was heralded by cheerful colours, uber-sexy lightweight outfits, frills and twirling ribbons, and an eroticised boudoir vibe. On the other, a more sombre mood veined the runway shows held in New York, London, Milan and Paris from September 9 to October 4 2023, characterised by black, next summer’s surprise statement colour, by a whiff of the military, plenty of tailored items and an abundance of wintery fabrics like leather. The war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, the shortage of raw materials and inflation are giving designers many reasons to be concerned.

Dries Van Noten,Spring/Summer 2023 - © PixelFormula


1. Black, summer’s new colour

A degree of pessimism was clearly felt on the runways. While calls for celebration and freedom were predominant, a certain concern for the future did crop up among labels. It translated in the unusual, ubiquitous presence of black in next summer’s collections, very often featured as a total look, sometimes in a 1990s spirit. Several designers, like Dries Van Noten, Lutz Huelle at AZ Factory, Avellano and Ann Demeulemeester even opened their shows with a long series of all-black looks.

Ujoh, Spring/Summer 2023 - DR

2. Destructured tailoring

Couture style continues to thrive, taking advantage of sportswear’s decline, first detected last winter. Men’s style suits, skirt suits, statement jackets and coats made of beautiful flannels were omnipresent, notably featuring generous, comfy volumes, but always sophisticated and, above all, inventive. Classic items have been reinterpreted, redefined and liberated thanks to a liberal use of the tailor’s scissors. Sleeves are slashed, or disappear completely. Multiple slits crop up on the shoulders, the back, the sides. Sometimes, only the underlying structure of a jacket remains, and the garment is slipped on backwards, creating new shapes and volumes. More generally, designers experimented with layering and asymmetries.

Burberry, Spring/Summer 2023 - © PixelFormula


3. Leather

Another surprise was that designers turned to heavy materials that were entirely unexpected in a summer wardrobe, such as fur (for example at GmbH) and especially leather. The latter was very much the order of the day, whether worn, aged, matte, glossy, varnished vinyl-style, perforated, open-work, studded, lace-trimmed or embroidered. Designers explored every leather variant, from smooth calfskin to velour-like suede, from shearling to reptile leathers. The palette ranged from brown to the ever-present black to colourful permutations as at Marni, Chloé, Christian Wijnants and Miu Miu. There was leather to suit all styles: corsets and lingerie in an SM mood, oversize tasselled biker jackets, pilot jumpsuits and more.

Act N°1, Spring/Summer 2023 - © PixelFormula

4. Cargo trousers

Trousers are officially next summer's essential garment. Preferably baggy, comfortable and equipped with multiple large pockets. They featured in a variety of utility versions, made of sturdy cotton canvas, or khaki mesh at Dior and Victoria/Tomas, camo fabric at Isabel Marant, nylon and brightly coloured denim at Versace. Cargo trousers also went romantic, as in Fendi’s delicate satin version or Act N°1’s pink tulle model.

Miu Miu, Spring/Summer 2023 - © PixelFormula


5. Patch and detachable pockets

In the same practical, utilitarian spirit, the patch pockets typical of cargo trousers cropped up on other garments too: on jackets, shirts, sleeves, on chic sheer satin or tulle dresses, in oversize versions on some mini-dresses, as at Louis Vuitton, on skirts and even on denim bandeau bras at Blumarine. Not to mention large twin patch pockets on the front of a pair of micro-shorts, a must for summer 2023. Some labels, like Miu Miu and Sacai, designed belt or apron-like skirts equipped with pockets, like a bum bag, useful for slipping one’s hands in, while Ann Demeulemeester featured two straightforward satchel pockets slung cross-wise over the chest.

Saint Laurent, Spring/Summer 2023 - © PixelFormula

6. The sheath dress

Torn between a penchant for sensuality and the need to protect themselves by covering their entire body, women will happily opt for slinky longline dresses next summer, as well as maxi skirts brushing the ground. These mermaid-style outfits in sparkling, flowing materials like satin, jersey, silk, wool and even silicone, hug and envelop the silhouette, enhancing women's natural curves with their sinuous lines. Some of the dresses have no slits, hindering the gait. Saint Laurent notably riffed on this theme with its entire, highly praised collection.

N°21, Spring/Summer 2023 - © PixelFormula


7. Exposed breasts and skin

Last summer, designers veered in an ultra-sexy direction and they remained well on course this season, with derrière-hugging hemlines, slits up to the top of the thighs, and a slew of looks featuring sheer lingerie and alluring bodices, corsets and underwear. Not to mention the ubiquitous cut-outs, cropping up everywhere in the vast majority of garments. Summer 2023 collections are notably focusing on the chest. Off-the-shoulder dresses often give a glimpse of a breast. Bras regularly jut out of dresses, while plunging necklines leave the chest virtually bare. Not to mention bikini tops that are trimmed down to a piece of string, baring the breasts almost completely. Breasts that are often revealed beneath translucent tunics, another of next summer's musts.

Christian Cowan, Spring/Summer 2023 - DR

8. Crinolines and pannier dresses

Eighteenth century magnificence made a first appearance in summer 2020, and has established itself as a strong trend for next summer through voluminous dresses that burgeon from the waist to the feet. Expressing this desire for exuberance, caught between Victorian romanticism and baroque flamboyance, designers presented multi-layered crinolines in tulle, silk, satin and even denim (Christian Cowan, Act N°1, Thom Browne and Giambattista Valli), or hoop dresses as at Acne Studios, Cecilie Bahnsen and Matty Bovan. Sometimes, there is just a hint of puffing out at the sides, as in some looks by Lanvin and Loewe. In several cases, designers revealed their pannier dresses’ structure of cage or hoops, as at Weinsanto (in an asymmetric version), Rochas, Monse and Dior, whose inspiration was Catherine de’ Medici, and Noir Kei Ninomiya, inspired instead by Marie-Antoinette.

Molly Goddard, Spring/Summer 2023 - © PixelFormula


9. The wedding dress

Many designers wanted to celebrate the end of the pandemic with sunny, joyful collections focusing on positive feelings. Love was a central theme, symbolised by the heart, which cropped up in the patterns, embroidery and appliqué of several collections, or the word ‘love’, featured for example on a t-shirt by Undercover. In this context, wedding dresses made a remarkable runway come-back, often as the show’s closing statement. Some designers focused squarely on bridal wear, like MSGM. Others turned the notion of the wedding dress on its head, such as N°21, whose theme was adultery, featuring torn and cobbled-together wedding dresses.

Marni, Spring/Summer 2023 - © PixelFormula


10. Sunset shades

The last hours of daylight on the beach in summer, when the setting sun’s rays turn from pale pink to yellow, orange, then bright red, before darkening into purple indigo and deep blue, have inspired more than one label. From Marni, which dedicated its entire show to this theme, to Ester Manas, Christian Wijnants, Ferragamo, GCDS and Etro with its rainbow looks. In general, exotic journeys to faraway destinations, the desire to escape to the sea shore and enjoy a carefree swim have strongly influenced the designers’ colour palette. Once again, they created looks that were mostly monochrome, featuring warm, vibrant colours.

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