At Who What Wear, we like to do things in our own way, and true to form, we’ve taken this approach in our in-depth analysis of the autumn/winter 2023 fashion trends, with but one preconceived notion—to speak to your specific style wants and needs. What good is it to scroll through thousands upon thousands of runway looks when only a small selection might apply to your wardrobe? Time, after all, is our most valuable commodity, and you need to spend yours wisely. So after more than a month’s worth of research, herein lies your guide to the autumn/winter 2023 fashion trends that are genuinely going to matter most to you this upcoming season, as deciphered by yours truly, someone whose job has legitimately afforded them the time to do so. I don’t mean to brag, but that’s something not even ChatGPT has the bandwidth to take on.
Tove via Getty Images
If you’ve found yourself here reading these words, I can ascertain the following; 1) that you appreciate fashion on a nuanced level and understand the impact it can have on our lives, and 2) you’re the sort of person who turns their gaze forward with a willingness to embrace things anew. This season saw many designers and brands take a similar leap of faith. An industry known for being cyclical, what’s interesting was just how many firsts there were during the autumn/winter 2023 show run. Actors Emma Corrin and Sir Ian McKellen each made their Fashion Month debuts, opening for Miu Miu and S.S. Daley respectively, Harris Reed’s inauguration at Nina Ricci came to fruition in fantastical ways, Gucci managed to forge a new aesthetic in the face of the directorial limbo between Alessandro Michele and Sabato De Sarno, and, in London, Instagram-favourite Tove made the leap from presentation to runway to become one of the most-talked about collections in the capital. “We have always loved this brand, but [its] debut runway collection put [it] firmly on the map this season with a very grown-up collection,”
affirms Libby Page, market director at Net-a-Porter. Still, amongst all that bloomed this season, there was a first tinged with sombre.
Andreas Kronthaler presented an emotional tribute to his late wife Vivienne Westwood with a collection, the first since her passing, entirely inspired by her life’s work. In his show notes, Kronthaler penned a raw love letter to Westwood, culminating with the words; “You once said to me that you can take everything away, just leave me my platform shoes because one can’t do without them. Maybe the most important thing you ever taught me was to put the woman on a pedestal.” The woman or person, yes, but the clothes? Vivienne Westwood left an immeasurable mark on fashion but, rather impossibly, it can be distilled down to this poignant quote.”Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. Quality, not quantity. Everybody’s buying far too many clothes.” She may have spoken these words after her London Fashion Week show in September 2013 but, almost a decade on, they align with autumn/winter 2023’s tome.
Saint Laurent via Getty Images
You might assume that you don’t need to make the distinction as to whether clothes are wearable or not—they’re clothes. However, wherever the catwalk is concerned, it is necessary. We live in a time where the smartphone is ultimately the most important VIP at any show, and many brands and collections been clouded or downright fallen flat in the pursuit of a viral moment. This season, for the most part at least, things hit different. The ripple effects of global economy in turmoil create a strong current, one even fashion can’t buoy. It has sparked a conversation surrounding frivolity and excess and, as a result, many designers poured their energy into creating looks that mirror what majority of women actually wear.” The global climate was reflected on the runway as designers delivered timeless and classic collections. This season’s trends saw the maximalist party dressing that dominated post-COVID evolve into more refined and functional wardrobing that combines elevated fabrics with sleek and subtle styling and that have enduring appeal,” explains Heather Gramston, head of womenswear at Browns. “From sharp tailoring to capsule wardrobe must-haves and ’90s minimalism, the A/W 23 shows marked the return of ‘wearable’ clothes and confirmed quiet luxury as one of the biggest trends of the year,” further elaborates Morgane Le Caer, fashion expert and content editor at Lyst. Grasping what other collections have failed to in the past, by all accounts, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Gabriela Hearst and Ferragamo have worked out what the nuclear woman wants.
Ester Manas via Getty Images
I’m not, however, through with the fashion dichotomy that’s unfolding in my exploration of autumn/winter 2023’s trends. In a season which, by all accounts, is being applauded for accurately representing women and their needs, why is the industry ignoring a significant number of us in the process? Research carried out by Vogue Business found that, of 9,137 looks across 219 shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris, just 0.6% were plus-size (UK 16+) and 3.8% were mid-size (UK 10-14). This means 95.6% of looks presented for A/W 23 were in a size UK 4-8. Why is this the case? Some are blaming the trends themselves—much of the ’90s and ’00s looks that are currently resonating were first born in a thin cultural peak and life as we know is imitating that once more. I say let’s speak the truth: the luxury fashion industry still has a problem with non-straight bodies and any progress it has made to be more inclusive has regressed. In recent years, the body positivity movement has continued to gain momentum and is an agenda-setting topic on social media, so why is it that so many brands are unwilling to embrace it? For this I don’t have the answer but I can direct your attention to the brands that were body-positivity allies this season and whose shows I saw myself represented in; Karoline Vitto, Sinéad O’Dwyer, Ester Manas, Christian Siriano, Collina Strada and Di Petsa.
As loaded as all of this may sound, there was a distinct sense of levity to the autumn/winter 2023 collections, too. What could generally can be described as “basics” might have been the order of the day for certain designers but, for others, the exploration into the joy of dressing from spring/summer continues by way of incredible colours, dress-up box fabrics, pretty adornments and twirl-worthy silhouettes.”There’s quiet luxury but, on the other end of the sartorial spectrum, high-octane shows also brought their fair share of drama with powerful colours, larger-than-life bags, and extreme volume,” continues Le Caer. Susan Fang’s show felt like a fever dream with its runway of flower petals and outfits of froth, while Erdem, Richard Quinn, and Victoria Beckham’s shared philosophy of pop a bow on it offers some respite from the seriousness of their counterparts.
Susan Fang via Getty Images
Looking further than autumn/winter 2023, what does the future of fashion hold? Is the answer hiding in the world of artificial intelligence and digital avatars? Robotics? The enduring debate surrounding Coperni’s runway RoboDogs makes me think otherwise. You know, maybe we’ve been overcomplicating it all along. Perhaps the future of fashion is wearing the clothes you want, seeing yourself represented in those clothes, and, as Vivienne Westwood would have wanted, loving those clothes so much that you don’t feel the desire or need to over consume. I’ve done my best to make this a reality for you below.
Without further ado, keep reading for the the rundown of 19 noteworthy autumn/winter 2023 fashion trends as told by myself, industry experts, and some of my esteemed colleagues.
Courtesy of Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Emilia Wickstead, Ferragamo, Brandon Maxwell, Gabriela Hearst, Miu Miu
Style Notes: As the autumn/winter 2023 collections prove time and time again, it is often the quieter looks that make the biggest impression. Quiet luxury remains this year’s most coveted aesthetic and although there is growing controversy surrounding the term and its close links to elitism, designers are leaning into it and embraced it in ways previously unseen. From vest-top-and-jeans outfits to simple jersey dresses, looks such as this give the well-worn phrase “less is more” heightened meaning. “Wearable, elevated dressing was definitely the highlight of the season,” confirms Libby Page, market director at Net-a-Porter. “We saw some immaculate tailoring and focus on wardrobe basics. Coats from Khaite, Gucci, and Erdem, turtleneck dresses from Tove, Carolina Herrera, and Bottega Veneta are some of A/W 23’s must-haves. We’re excited to be kicking off this trend with Maximilian Davis’s debut collection at Ferragamo for last season’s collections.”
Courtesy of Brandon Maxwell, Bevza, Jil Sander, Lanvin, Stella McCartney, Miu Miu, Lanvin
Style Notes: Fashion is often at odds with itself, moving from one trend extreme to the next between seasons as designers seek to offer something fresh. This is evident in autumn/winter’s bag selection. Totes were the order of the day for spring/summer so, naturally, the industry has switched things up for the next few months, instead bringing clutch bags to the fore. “We all know that clutch bags aren’t practical, but there’s clearly enough of that in fashion circles right now—some things just need to be chic and a little bit fabulous. That’s where these jumbo clutches from Miu Miu, Jil Sander and Givenchy come in,” notes Hannah Almassi, Editor in Chief at Who What Wear UK. “Handbag trends come and go, but a pared-back, elegant clutch for day or night is surprisingly timeless and have been popular for more than the past century. For A/W 23, scale, form or texture are often exaggerated, but a very plain iteration will look just as current. In short, a good clutch will add extra polish to smart, tailored ensembles, which this season has in abundance.”
Courtesy of Richard Quinn, Victoria Beckham, Caroline Herrera, Paco Rabanne
Style Notes: In terms of adornment, bows are to autumn what rosettes were to spring; affixed to tops, dresses, bags and shoes, from micro ties to jumbo knots. “If there’s one clear message I took away from the A/W 23 shows, it’s that bows are back—not that they really ever went away, right? ” says Poppy Nash, managing editor at Who What Wear UK. “The surge in the balletcore trend that we’ve seen peppering our Instagrams (Miu Miu ballet pumps, anyone?) and indeed, our wardrobes, over the last few months is going nowhere for autumn/winter 2023, with designers such as Victoria Beckham and Erdem (naturally) leaning into the aesthetic through the use of bows. Whether it’s grand, structural elements like the dresses at Richard Quinn or delicately placed ribbons as seen at Simone Rocha, it’s clear that bows are a statement worth making this season.”
Courtesy of Christopher Kane, Givenchy, Eckhaus Latta, Molly Goddard, Tove, Cecilie Bahnsen, Zimmermann
Style Notes: When it comes to compiling a report such as this, I insist on looking through the photography from each show afresh. Of course, some trends I’ve already earmarked, having witnessed them in real time during the shows themselves. Others, however, require a second look to discover, and one trend that practically jumped off the screen when doing so was butter yellow. “Every season we get a colour trend so divisive it’s the equivalent of sartorial marmite, and if you weren’t on board with last year’s Barbiecore, you might want to look away now. Yellow is having a moment, and it’s as sugary sweet as it comes,” says Remy Farrell, shopping editor at Who What Wear UK. “Forget punchy mustards and leave neon to the ’90s, this autumn/winter encourages us to mellow out in soft shades of buttermilk yellow, one of the more luxurious shades in the pastel palette. After all, what other colour makes us feel instantly happier just by looking at it? As soon as the sun sets on another summer we need the instant pick-me-up that yellow delivers and, as Christopher Kane and Cecilie Bahnsen prove, dressing up in vanilla-steeped layers helps us to hold onto the joy of the warm-weather season that much longer (that is, until spring rolls around again.) Move over maroon and predictable beige, this year quiet luxury is served sunny side up.”
Courtesy of Etro, Emilia Wickstead, Stella McCartney, Zimmermann
Style Notes: While there’s an excitement in unearthing a new trend you know is going to change the face of fashion for a season, as I get older, I’ve come to appreciate the sound reliability of others. I would assume that checks have featured on every autumn/winter trend report that has ever been published on Who What Wear. However, for 2023, they’re significantly punchier than their predecessors. Heritage weaves are still very much a thing, but in bright and unusual colour mixes. At Emilia Wickstead, green grid-like motifs stole the show, while one of my favourite looks of the season is the deep mustard and leather trouser ensemble at Zimmermann.
Courtesy of Gucci, Altuzarra, Jil Sander, Gabriela Hearst, Chloé, Loewe, Emilia Wickstead, Victoria Beckham
Style Notes: When it comes to materials to take note of next season, there’s one that stands out from the rest; leather. From shirts and skirts to dresses and trousers (and, of course, jackets and coats) leather dominated across all four fashion capitals. “We saw a lot more of leather this season compared to the previous and it had a moment this season with the styling,” confirms Page. “I loved the skirts from Proenza Schouler and Bottega Veneta, and the leather coats from Khaite, Ferragamo and Gabriela Hearst, especially in red and burgundy.”
If that’s not enough to convince you, perhaps the numbers will. Lyst reports that, post Fashion Month, searches for leather clothing spiked by 25%—an early indicator of the prevalence it’ll have on our wardrobes this season.
Courtesy of Rokh, Bottega Veneta, Versace, Ferragamo, Schiaparelli, Nina Ricci, Zimmermann
Style Notes: If there’s one thing that’s going to make all of your outfits feel on trend for the season ahead, it’s earrings. There—I said it. Of all the looks in all the collections, a commonality they all shared was jumbo stud earrings. Bottega Veneta’s giant-sized teardrops have already begun decorated the lobes of those in the know, while Rokh’s gargantuan pearls are almost too beautiful for words.
“When it comes to jewellery trends, it’s rare for a simple stud to take centre stage. With many seasons dedicated to hoops, shoulder skimming drops or multi-stacked ears, I couldn’t be more excited for the revival of bold ’80s style studs,” says Florrie Alexander, commerce writer at Who What Wear UK. “For autumn/winter, designers have played with oversized shapes and sculptural details, allowing the stud to dominate once again. Personally, I’ll be styling mine with everything from simple jeans and T-shirt looks to an elevated evening ensembles.”
Courtesy of Alexander McQueen, Ann Demeulemeester, Givenchy, Versace
Style Notes: I’m usually reluctant to bundle different aesthetics together but, in the interest of time-saving and concise editing, indulge me. Of course, we’re talking about autumn/winter, and the palettes across the board reflect that, but, if nothing else, this season was a love letter to black and all the things that happen in the shadows. Seduction was a recurring theme across a multitude of catwalks, though perhaps it is best represented in David Koma’s latex-lathered collection or Ann Demeulemeester’s reveal-and-conceal garments. Indeed, on one side there were thigh-high boots, bra tops, and skirts held together by safety pins. On the other were Film Noir-inspired svelte dresses, long opera gloves, and car coats, which created the sort of outfits you might expect from some twisted Grace Kelly/Wednesday Addams universe crossover. Whichever way you interpret the trend, one thing’s for certain—it’s time to enter your femme fatale era.
Courtesy of A.w.a.k.e. Mode, Gucci, Loewe, Proenza Schouler
Style Notes: Comfort is more than a trend, it’s a state of mind. For many of us, the cosy vibes you get from wearing your favourite loungewear is something we’d very much like to carry into other aspects of our wardrobes, and autumn/winter’s exploration of toasty, sumptuous fabrications in swathing silhouettes will allow us cold girls to do just that.
“Luxe textures, especially shearling, featured heavily on outerwear and accessories this season, adding a soft touch to the clean lines and elevated ready-to-wear styling that dominated the runway,” says Heather Gramston, head of womenswear at Browns. “We especially loved Bally’s deep blue velvet boots, alongside the pale blue shearling lined mules from Khaite and Loewe’s textured oversized totes which featured the brand’s signature donut chain link.” Personally, I’d like to start and end the season in A.w.a.k.e. Mode’s divine cream bouclé creation.
Courtesy of Armani, Lanvin, Isabel Marant, Elie Saab, Bottega Veneta, Hèrmes, Etro
Style Notes: Where there is autumn there are boots and, for the season ahead, boots are going to be bold, unapologetic and sexy, sitting above the knee. “Taller than ever, thigh-high boots were one of the key footwear styles on the A/W 23 runways,” affirms Morgane Le Caer, content editor at Lyst. “Seen at Stella McCartney and Isabel Marant, the trend has already been embraced by the likes of Rihanna and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and searches increased 70% post Fashion Month on Lyst”.
“Over the knee boots are one of our must-have A/W 23 items,” confirms Page. “The pairs at Khaite, Valentino, Dries Van Noten were some highlights—including the intreccio-woven red boots from Bottega Veneta.”
Courtesy of Christopher Kane, Coperni, Eudon Choi, Louis Vuitton, Chloé, Jason Wu, Saint Laurent, Versace
Style Notes: It’s not just wardrobe building blocks that have surged in popularity since the quiet luxury aesthetic went viral. Going against the Y2K grain, there’s a discernible need and want to dress elegantly for work, too. “Business-style dressing by the likes of The Row, Valentino and Loewe and, my favourite of this season, Ferragamo, really set the mood for the next few months,” says Page. “Oversized blazers at Saint Laurent, and pencil skirts from the likes of Tove and Burberry led the way for this trend. We also loved the suiting from Max Mara and Gabriela Hearst, taking power dressing to the next level.”
Courtesy of Ferragamo, Proenza Schouler, Tove, Etro
Style Notes: I was impressed at the display of metallics we saw in the spring/summer collections—its not a trend you necessarily expect for the warmer months. However, right on cue, the A/W 23 runways lit up with high-shine finishes; only this time, the focus is solely on silver. “I’m blaming it on Beyoncé’s Renaissance album, but silver is everywhere right now,” says Eleanor Vousden, beauty editor at Who What Wear UK. “From sparkling sequins at 16Arlington to molten lamé at Ferragamo and Proenza Schouler, the metallic hue is breathing a breath of fresh air into our wardrobes. And it’s trickling down into jewellery and accessories, too. I’ve sworn by gold jewellery for years now, but I’m ready to dip a toe in silver tones that give any outfit a clean look.”
In the weeks after the shows, Lyst can attest that silver was one of the key trend takeaways, as searched for the hue peaked by 24% in the four weeks following Fashion Month.
Courtesy of Givenchy, Eudon Choi, Proenza Schouler, Prada, Tove, Altuzarra, Christopher Kane, Arkis
Style Notes: As much as I’ve enjoyed the miniskirt’s revival, as we’ve already surmised, there’s nothing fashion loves more than to do a complete 180 on a trend. Cue maxi dresses, which sashayed their way down the runways of Givenchy, Prada, and Christopher Kane, to name but a few.
“Maxi hemlines have been a key trend this season and one that we think will really resonate with the Browns customer,” shares Gramston. “We’ve seen both new-gen and super-brand designers move away from micro lengths to a more refined evening look, pairing fitted maxi length dresses and skirts with floor sweeping, tailored outerwear. Alaïa’s rich, chocolate-brown interpretation, the sheer long dresses from Blumarine and Nensi Dojaka, and as Diesel’s double denim skirt and long coat combination were some of our favourite exaggerated silhouettes from the runway.”
To further confirm this hemline shift, Lyst also reports that maxi dress searches spiked 35% in March 2023 in comparison to searches in February 2023.
Courtesy of Etro, Stella McCartney, Arkis, Coperni
Style Notes: After spending 365 days weighing up every single pro and con, last winter I treated myself to Toteme’s scarf coat. Assuming you’ve spent more than five seconds on either Instagram or TikTok in the same time frame then you’ll know the coat of which I speak. It’s built-in scarf, which I still take delight in tossing nonchalantly over my shoulder, has inspired a new outerwear trend for autumn/winter 2023. Be it a blanket cape or a woollen coat with lengths to the shoulders, the notion of bundling up has become literal. “As seen at The Row and Daniel Lee’s Burberry debut, outerwear was sumptuous this season with capes and scarves combinations layered over coats for ultimate cosiness,” says Gramston.
Courtesy of Eudon Choi, Stein,Tory Burch, Arkis,
Style Notes: An admirable facet of the autumn/winter collections was the appreciation of what could be politely described as unassuming garments, and the button-up shirt was one of them. “Where summer feels all about soft, curved silhouettes from puffed sleeves and ruffled edges, winter for me is all about the clean cuts and sharp tailoring,” enlightens Rebecca Rhys-Evans, branded content editor at Who What Wear UK. “One key note from the A/W 23 collections was that shirting is, and always will be, a hero staple. Often overlooked as a basic, the likes of Yuzefi, Bottega Veneta and Eudon Choi have added splashes of colour or impactful details like waist belts and XXL cuffs to elevate the once humble shirt’s status as a statement. If like me you’re into your earthy tones, look to Akris and Prada, who have options in mud brown and moss green that are a change from failsafe black.”
Courtesy of Tove, Zimmermann, Caroline Herrera, Molly Goddard, Christopher Kane, Gucci, Nina Ricci
Style Notes: There’s a serious undercurrent running through much of 2023’s trend offering, which made the dramatic shapes of tulle, satin, and taffeta seen at Erdem, Carolina Herrera, and Molly Goddard all the more impactful, giving the runway a playful mood in the process. “‘After seasons of slinky ’90s minimalism reigning supreme, it’s refreshing to see a return to flouncy and fun volume for A/W 23,” agrees Emily Dawes, affiliate editor at Who What Wear UK. “I’m not a big fan of prints, so I love to add drama to outfits with unique shapes—especially dresses and pretty tops paired with more understated jeans or streamlined trousers to bring them into everyday life. Whether it’s layers of polka-dotted organza at Harris Reed’s Nina Ricci or puffed pleating at Gucci, expect to see plenty of statement-making pieces across luxury collections in the coming months, which will no doubt trickle down to the high street as well. It’s time to embrace the anti-no-frills attitude, especially during party season when this trend will really come into its own.”
Courtesy of Victoria Beckham, Ahluwalia, Coperni, Dundas
Style Notes: It’s a fact—hosiery seldom makes headlines. Of course, tights trend bubble up every autumn/winter but rarely are they given the similar notoriety as their accessory comrades; boots, jewellery and bags. That, however, is set to change this season, as tights—be they fishnet, velvet-touch or brightly coloured—appeared in every noteworthy edit.
“These are not your grandma’s tights,” assures Le Caer. “Worn with nothing but bejewelled knickers at Miu Miu, tights are slowly but surely replacing trousers, pushing the no-pants trend that’s already been adopted by the likes of Kendall Jenner and Camille Charrière one step further.”
Courtesy of Burberry, Miu Miu, Nanushka, Isabel Marant
Style Notes: Practical coats have undergone a metamorphosis to become very chic things indeed. The past few years meant that daily walks became habitual for many of us, and our penchant for outwear that’s up to the task, even in the depths of autumn/winter, endures. Rain macs, puffers, and shearling-trimmed coats were prevalent on the runways of even the most refined fashion houses—think Christian Dior, Chloé, and Burberry.
“I’m done with being cold and over not dressing appropriately for the forecast, so the piece I know I’ll be investing in this season is going to be a weatherproof coat. My selection will be torn between puffers in neutral hues and fun shearling—something tells me I can make room in my wardrobe (and on my IG feed) for both,” says Joy Ejaria, social media editor at Who What Wear UK.
Courtesy of Christopher Kane, The Row, Bottega Veneta, Ferragamo, Jason Wu, Victoria Beckham, David Koma, Tory Burch
Style Notes: Some trends are simply too impactful to be relegated to one season, and saffron is one of them. A predominant colour trend for spring/summer, any investment you’ve made in red tones will carry you through to autumn/winter, too. I shouldn’t be surprised—this specific shade of postbox red is classic and a constant in the fashion cycle, making it a great option should you be looking to add more colour to your looks, but want the assurance it won’t date them. “Red was a consistent theme in the shows by the likes of Stella McCartney and Valentino, giving a strong, high impact look. The Row was a highlight for me,” continues Page.
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