It’s time to talk spring/summer 2023 fashion trends! Spanning four cities, over 350 designer showcases and more celebrity model moments than you can shake a roll of body tape at, ask anyone in attendance, and they’ll tell you that Fashion Month was back at its biggest and brightest for spring/summer 2023. Having pivoted from perching on the front row to sitting in front of our laptops (cup of tea in hand) for the past few seasons, we expected some designers to entirely forgo the frivolity of “real-life” fashion shows in favour of the digital experience. This, however, was not the case; in fact, not a single virtual invitation landed in my inbox. Instead, with a 45% increase in shows compared to autumn/winter, designers appeared to come to the collective agreement that being together will always be better. And, my, did they make it worth washing our hair and putting on our best outfits for.
As we’ve established, physically attending shows certainly has its charms, and we’re grateful that the jubilant omnipresence and full-blown spectacle had, for the most part, returned to Fashion Month. Still, it would be remiss of me not to mention perhaps the most desired guest at any runway: the smartphone. I hate to break it to you, but fashion editors aren’t time travellers. Silliness aside, the reality is we can only be in one place at any given time, and with the sheer volume of shows in different vicinities—heck, different cities—it’s impossible to be present at every single one. Cue social media, namely Instagram and TikTok, which gives us more access to the action than any backstage pass ever could and enables us to see every noteworthy second unfold as it happens. And spring/summer 2023 proved to be curated with viral moments in mind.
“The season was dominated by the competition between designers to achieve the best audience engagement through the biggest viral flash,” says Libby Page, all-round fashion expert and market director at Net-a-Porter. “Coperni was extremely imaginative with the sprayed-on dress worn by Bella Hadid for closing the show. Kim Kardashian at Dolce & Gabbana, Paris Hilton at Versace and Cher at Balmain demonstrated the power and influence celebrity endorsements have over the brand’s popularity.” However, it wasn’t just A-list sashays that made for excellent viewing; the sets and spaces in which the shows themselves were held were just as integral to the aesthetic as the clothes or, indeed, the celebrity talent.
The iconic London skyline served as the Rejina Pyo backdrop, while Chanel created its very own black-and-white movie—starring its loyal ambassador Kristen Stewart, no less—that was projected upon a gargantuan screen, the scope of which can only be realised with the models walking in front of it for measurable context. “Courregès was a standout moment for me, seeing how they have evolved for S/S 23 and the show itself with the amazing set build and sand hourglass was a real highlight,” says Heather Gramston, head of womenswear at Browns. “Not a new name, but Khaite deserves a mention as my New York Fashion Week highlight. The gritty after-dark styling and addition of the snake print was genius; my favourite piece of the season is, without a doubt, the snake-print leather oversized trench.”
“I also thought Erdem’s show at the British Museum was incredibly powerful,” continues Page. “With the guests sat underneath the breathtaking pillars and perfect timing of the rain as soon as the show was over.” Ah, London; you never miss a beat.
Being quite literally on our doorstep, London’s offering always holds a special place in our hearts. For spring 2023, it was all the more poignant. This season, we saw a London Fashion Week like no other, as it fell during the official period of national mourning following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Some designers chose to postpone their shows—most notably Burberry, which has a long history of outfitting our country’s royalty. Those who did go ahead as planned paid their tributes to the monarch in truly idiosyncratic and meaningful ways. Richard Quinn, who was honoured by the Queen when she presented him with the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design during his fashion week show in 2018, dedicated his S/S 23 collection to her. The show opened with an entirely black series of regal mourning gowns, paired with veils and crowns, as vintage footage of the Queen played on screens in the centre of the runway, subsequently capturing the quiet reflection that enveloped the usually bustling streets of the nation’s capital at that time.
Just as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II assured in a televised address in 2020, we did indeed meet again. “After two years of pandemic-related disruptions, S/S 23 felt like the fashion world had finally returned to its busy and buzzy schedule,” says Morgane Le Caer, fashion expert and content editor at Lyst. But what are the top spring/summer fashion trends for 2023, I hear you exclaim? Well, let’s get right down to it.
“The collections were a sartorial tale of two extremes,” continues Le Caer. “Bright colours, gawdy metallics, and bold 3D florals clashed against 50 shades of black and white, elevated basics and contemporary formalwear—and the result was an exciting mix of decadent theatricality and pared-back designs.”
“For spring/summer 2023, we saw designers creating wearable yet interesting clothes, with a shift towards hard-working, effortless pieces,” says Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear at MATCHESFASHION. “In addition, there were redefined craft techniques not yet seen before, giving customers new reasons to invest in emotive yet wearable garments. It was a real shift to modern luxurious wardrobing and interesting, accessible tailoring to fit all lifestyles, which, after many seasons of high occasionwear, was refreshing to see.”
From my standpoint, there does feel to be a distinct shift from the extreme sexiness that has populated recent collections. Even sheer textiles, which remain very much a thing for spring2023, are approached in an entirely different manner, worn with sweatshirts in place of sky-high heels. And what of the Y2K aesthetic? Although hints of it remain sprinkled throughout the season, a certain refinement now comes with it. Cargo trousers have been elevated with exquisite tailoring in lighter fabrications, while the S/S 23 take on the ’90s feels more Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy in Calvin Klein than, say, Cher Horowitz (who, in all fairness, also looked incredible in Calvin Klein). Still, that’s not to say there’s no fun to be had! As Le Caer surmises, the collections created a story with two endings: one of pared-back elegance and a focus on wardrobe fundamentals. The other? An explosion of fun and colour and shine and unapologetic maximalism! Halpern encapsulated this with its epic ’80s-themed party, to which everyone is invited. They may sit at opposite ends of the fashion spectrum, but the sentiment laid out by designers is clear; whatever aesthetic you choose, commit to it wholeheartedly.
Thinking back, many of the trends showcased this season were a continuation of those displayed on the autumn runways, ensuring that nothing we just recently splurged on will go to waste. This is, perhaps, the most important takeaway of them all. Fashion is cyclical—I know we say this all the time, but it’s true!—and any piece you invest in, be it inspired by the trends outlined below or otherwise, should only be purchased if you intend on keeping it in your wardrobe for a very, very long time.
Now, without further ado, keep reading for the the rundown of the most noteworthy spring/summer 2023 fashion trends as told by the experts, including some of my esteemed colleagues.
Next Up: The 9 New-In Pieces I’m Adding to My Wish List This Week