I hope you didn’t hold your breath waiting to see the visual signature of the spring-summer fashion season, because it won’t happen any time soon. As I said numerous times with a bit of nostalgia, the late 80s and early 90s were the last moments in fashion history with very distinctive visual signatures. After that, well, we got used to recognizing certain moments in time by their specific car models and tech gadgets, rather than by their discernable fashion or hairstyles. Truth is, the pace of change over the last few decades has been faster and faster, as the one quality that clearly defines our modern, technocratic, and digital age is acceleration. We are making haste in just about everything – from our work, play, family, and love life, to the way we think, feel, decide, pray, consume, and express ourselves.
At all times, fashion trends have illustrated a visual culture that modeled the consumer’s identity in terms of lifestyle choices, ideology, and attitude. Clothes are never unimportant; they are one of the most relevant expressions of the collective mood and economic pressures of the time. So, it comes as no surprise that the upcoming fashion season is rich in eclectic statement looks – equally creative, ebullient, hardcore, and liberating – yet it doesn’t have a dominant, defining style. After all, we are still marked by the yo-yo effect of anxiety-tinted anticipation.
Nevertheless, the prevailing spring-summer frame of mind is one of hope – the confidence and optimism of an awakening. The last few years’ challenges gave us a new appreciation for being present IRL and absorbing its in-person vibrations, so we moved gladly away from the artificiality and bottled-up feelings of virtual living, making a major shift in fashion consumer behavior. As in-person shopping, events, and special occasions return gradually to pre-pandemic levels, love and joy are back in the air, in a generally warm, fuzzy, and romantic celebratory mood.
Spring-Summer 2023 shows a festive spirit and cheerful imagination, with statement looks that marry fashion and art without compromising style, comfort, or practicality. Still dizzy from overexposure to virtual reality, fashion plays with pixelated shapes, optical illusions, trompe-l’œil impressions, and faux effects, which celebrate the body with fluid and futuristic accents, in a clever display of set-free creativity.
Whether we talk about flowers, glitter, transparency, sunset or twilight sky colors, maxed-out hems, supersized shoulders, leather, or cargo bagginess, all trends are sleek, presented in crisp and simple tailoring, perfectly calibrated.
Floral patterns, both on clothing and shoes, transform simple garments into blooming works of art, with designs running from botanical, vintage paisley, Art Nouveau, and retro, to lifelike or giant tropical flowers.
Awakenings and shining come as a package deal, so we’ll get to sparkle a lot this spring and summer. As long as it shines, anything goes – glitter, sequins, rhinestones, lamé, satin, liquid gold on sheer fabrics designed to be worn like a second skin – for everything we wear all day long, from head to toes, that is from hat to shoes, creating a new but distinctly chic silhouette.
Transparency is played with a cunning art of seduction, in must-have beige monochromes, which create faux topless effects, or black ones that hint at glimpses of sexy curves and smoky lingerie. The season’s deft use of transparency on black, associated with a clever use of volume, helps reconceptualize the gothic style as a soft grunge aesthetic.
Floor-sweeping skirts and dresses, as well as extra-long flared trousers, are both flattering and incredibly comfortable, restoring the romantic possibility and perspective of real-life encounters. Worn with daring accessories like hardcore spikes and studs, or buckles, they offer an interesting study of the dichotomy of love. Navigating our feelings IRL is tough. As the song goes, nobody said that it was gonna be easy in the long run.
The romantic core of this season’s fashion is lit up by a flamboyant sky color palette, in dawn-and-dusk dip-dye hues of red, orange, and yellow, as well as celeste and twilight blue – shades that will last in fashion trends up until the Indian summer.
Leather and supersized shoulder lines didn’t lose their momentum and surprisingly made the cut for another season. It has to do, most likely, with the bold style of the biker trend of past seasons, reinterpreted in a spring-summer appropriate, more minimalistic, visual style.
Loyal to a fashion sense that fits in with our present everyday life, designers of all houses and labels featured styles committed to smartness, practicality, and comfort alike, at the crossroads between streetwear influences and combat aesthetics. That’s why cargo pants and baggy jeans are fashion staples this season. In the same vein of pragmatism, extra-large pockets are layered on tops or miniskirts, useful for keeping all of our essentials close by.
Lovey-dovey accents and accessories speak openly about both our desire for experimentation and self-expression and our feral need for in-person togetherness. It seems that almost everyone will be wearing their heart on their sleeve this season – hearts of all shapes and sizes, lace, bows, crystals, and other sweet wedding-themed frills embellish our casual styles and smarten us up from head to toes for the long-awaited closeness IRL.
We’ll not only look pretty but sit pretty as well. 2023 shoe styles reflect the same balancing act between classics such as Mary Janes and ballet flats carried into the new season and hyper-new styles that redefine how people perceive footwear in 2023. New shoe shapes, architectural heels, rhinestones, bows or ruffle-embellished sandals or summer boots, reinterpreted pumps with details like zippers, buckles, studded straps, floral details, and sharp lines make timeless footwear styles feel brand new again.
Maybe in this season’s shoe trends, we recognize the most our post-pandemic need for both comfort and statement styles that push the boundaries of traditional features. Yes, we’ve gone through a rough patch that elevated sneakers into status symbols and got too used to shuffling around the house in flip-flops that leave room for us to wiggle our toes, but times have changed and we welcome the change wholeheartedly. Footwear brands understood immediately that the power of a statement pair of shoes both stunning and comfortable is greater than ever.
As I was recently discussing in an interview with Robyn Shreiber, creator of Beautiisoles, a luxury shoe brand that focuses on comfort, shoes are as important as clothing and great shoes, read statement shoes in which you feel comfortable, can indeed make an outfit. A Pro-Am ballroom dancer and executive at a billion-dollar diversified food company, Robyn understood early on and first-hand how crucial it was to be able to live, run around, and travel in style 24/7 on high heels, without sacrificing your health and wellbeing in the process. Using cutting-edge technology and expert design, she created affordable women’s luxury Italian footwear that seeks to reconcile the often-fraught relationship between style and comfort. Innovation is key, she said – across features including shoe silhouette, heel height, heel shape, wider room for toes, materials, and sole innovation. Beautiisoles shoes have 6 mm padding inside, which makes them as comfy and wearable as they are stylish and gorgeous.
In the struggle to treat our bodies and feet well, novelty is introduced season after season and the acceleration of comfort dressing is widening the definition of luxury for designer apparel.
What can I say – after going through countless Spring-Summer 2023 runway reports, a scene from the first Issey Miyake show since the founder’s death in August, remained etched in my mind. During the moment of remembrance that preceded the show, under images of the designer’s portrait that were projected around, was written one of his quotes, which, like his creations, was only apparently simple: “I believe there is hope in design. Design evokes surprise and joy in people.” I think it sums up beautifully the spirit of this season. Don’t they say that all one needs to be truly happy in this world is someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for? We’ve been put through the wringer and survived. All we need now, in getting back to living in real life, is joy, wonder, and hope.