As the year comes to a close, the Wallpaper* fashion and beauty team share their personal 2023 fashion highlights – from the blockbuster spectacle of Pharrell Williams’ debut at Louis Vuitton to cascading curtains of slime at Prada. These are style moments of 2023 that will stick with us.
2023 fashion highlights: as picked by the Wallpaper* team
Jason Hughes, fashion and style director
There was something about Matthieu Blazy’s latest Bottega Veneta show – S/S 2024, – show that I felt like captured a particular mood, one of fantasy and imagination, the way that fashion allows the mind can travel. Set on a tiled map of the world which stretched across the space’s floor (complete with illustrations of penguins, sardines and crabs), Blazy imagined his protagonists on a journey around the globe – ‘an odyssey: a journey that is both free and hopeful… internal, physical and through the imagination,’ as he described. It made for a satisfying roll-call of travel archetypes – the beachgoer, the businessman, the castaway – each one rendered through his incredible expressions of craft. I loved it, and as ever there was plenty to desire: chief among them the vast woven beach bags which opened the show.
I’ve been a fan of the American artist Lynda Benglis for some time, so it was exciting to see Jonathan Anderson collaborate with her at Loewe: first, her enormous fountains provided the show set for his S/S 2024 menswear show, then, for his later womenswear show he also collaborated with her studio on sculptural pieces of jewellery evocative of her works cast from manipulated pieces of clay (which also lined the runway). As ever, he used the inspiration point to create some of the year’s most intriguing collections, which largely focussed on an extraordinary now silhouette – super high-waisted trousers worn with shrunken shirts or knitwear – which he described as looking through a fish-eye lens or looking upwards at one of Benglis’ towering fountains.
Finally, nothing beats John Galliano’s Maison Margiela shows: held in the all-white showspace on the upper floor of house’s new Paris headquarters and complete with stomping models – and equally stomping soundtrack – it’s a true fashion rush.
Jack Moss, fashion features editor
2023 might well have been the year of spectacle, a mood encapsulated by Pharrell Williams’ menswear debut at Louis Vuitton – undeniably the most blockbuster runway show (or indeed fashion happening) I’ve ever attended. For a start, most do not require the boarding of a boat to get to the venue – guests were shuttled down the Seine before the show’s start – nor do they require the full-scale shutdown of a Parisian landmark (Pont Neuf, the city’s oldest bridge, here gilded gold for the occasion). And, while they do usually attract a handful of stars, Williams’ presence ensured an altogether stratospheric guest list – among them Beyoncé, Zendaya, Meghan Thee Stallion, Tyler the Creator, Kim Kardashian and (many, many) more. Post-show, Jay-Z staged a live performance; my own personal highlight was finishing the evening dancing feet away from a heavily pregnant Rihanna.
A different kind of spectacle at Prada – always a highlight of my fashion season – whereby dripping Alien-like cascading curtains of slime interrupted the otherwise sparse stainless-steel set in the house’s Deposito showspace at Fondazione Prada in Milan. At both the house’s menswear show (which happened first), and the womenswear show later in the year, the trick was enough to elicit audible gasps from the gathered audience. It provided the backdrop for two standout collections by Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, the menswear show an exploration of ‘fluid forms’ – tailoring was cut with the lightness and ease of a cotton poplin shirt – while the womenswear collection melded featherweight diaphanous gowns with ladylike silhouettes and extraordinary expressions of craft (from eyelet-studded tassels to intricate embroidery). ‘We tried to make the best out of our work, to make beautiful things, for today,’ said Mrs Prada in her typically succinct style. ‘That may sound banal, but it is the truth.’
Elsewhere, I enjoyed young British menswear designer Aaron Esh’s sleek, confident London Fashion Week debut which riffed on the dress codes of his own group of friends – set against the London skyline on an upper floor of the Tate Modern’s Blavatnik Building, he said it was an ode to the city in which he grew up, and later studied. My final highlight goes to Matthieu Blazy at Bottega Veneta. It goes without saying that his collections are extraordinary in their expressions of craft and design, but I want to particularly shout out his equally extraordinary – and always poignant – soundtracks. After his A/W 2023 show, I listened to Donna Lewis’ ‘I Love You, Always Forever’ on repeat.
Hannah Tindle, beauty and grooming editor
Mia Goth opened the Miu Miu A/W 2023 show in February this year, which was titled ‘Ways of Looking’ (a sideways glance at John Berger’s 1972 essay, perhaps). She was styled by Lotta Volkova in pieces befitting of Mrs Prada’s subversively sexy take on a bookish aesthetic. With a charcoal button-up twin set, strappy patent pumps, a leather box bag carried nonchalantly in the crook of her arm, and black, low denier tights – the gusset of which was pulled up above the waistline of a low-slung, sheer polka dot pencil skirt – Goth looked as though she had just rolled out of bed in a hurry, and in being late for a lecture at the Sorbonne, had left her sleeping lover behind. Guido Palau created intentionally unkempt hair, using the static electricity from balloons and a can of hairspray to sculpt strands into frazzled quiffs. Later in the lineup, tiny rounded tortoiseshell spectacles worn by the likes of Rianne Van Rompaey completed the fantasy (and I have been thinking about it ever since).
Daniel Lee’s obsession with green seeped through from his tenure at Bottega Veneta into Burberry’s new direction for S/S 2024. However, for the sophomore collection at the British heritage label, Lee put a trademark stamp on a deeper variation of the shade; a hue that is in part reminiscent of a mallard head (duck motifs are also on the designer’s mood board) and one that also recalls the verdant foliage of British scenery. Held in a tented structure erected in London’s Highbury Fields, the show space was laid with moss-coloured carpet, which carried over into the clothes, make-up and even nails. Ammy Drammeh took care of the former, where glossy, lacquered lips appeared black at first glance; upon a second, a tint of green was slightly perceptible. The same custom colour was applied to fingers and nails, by session manicurist Ama Quashie. Would I try and recreate this rather swampy makeup look on myself? Probably not. But I loved the strangeness of it nonetheless.