I never thought I’d say it, but I’m happy to see Fall finally enthroned. Rest assured, that roar you hear is the incredulous laughter of everyone who knows me, no matter how briefly. I used to have the established reputation of a serial summer lover, with an insatiable longing for everything estival and decades of trusting the summertime’s power to restore and renew. But not anymore. This year, the spell has been broken somehow and the magic was spoiled.
In hindsight, I can see how it happened. The summer we just left behind had very little to do with the things I loved most about the season, and it messed up the delivery on almost all its inherent promises. With all the oppressive heatwaves, raging wildfires, devastating rainfalls, escalating pressure at work, and the inescapable financial burnout, if I have to describe using only one word how I felt during the summer of 2023, it would be ‘exhausted’, with no care to elaborate whatsoever. Maybe it’s just me getting older or maybe it’s the way of the world, lately going awry. In any case, this year I discovered a newfound appreciation for the arrival of autumn, as it provided a much-needed respite from the rat race anxiety. Fall puts everything in perspective with its distinctive maturity, and therein lies not only the offer of a well-earned rest but also the possibility of redemption, and the implicit hope of renewal.
In nature’s seasons, as well as in the seasons of life, fall is the time when we truly understand how the law of cause and effect works, just as we see the results of our efforts, the consequences of our actions, what we missed out on, and – most importantly – who we have become. Fall is the moment of truth. That’s valid in all aspects of life, but, and not by coincidence, is instantly visible in fashion.
Speaking of who we have become and how our style reflects precisely this process of change, I wrote at large last time about the two main fashion approaches of the 2023-24 Fall-Winter season – one focused on dressing for individuality, with a flair of drama and the power infused by monumental elegance, the other holding dear the staying power of wearability, relatability, and comfortability. Both approaches communicate, each in its own way, the deep sensitivity and multi-faceted aesthetics of feminine empowerment, which came to define not only a long succession of fashion seasons but the very spirit of our times. The fall fashion styles, created with this philosophy of beauty in mind, are all about adulthood and readiness, reflecting a mix of conscious seduction and mature romance; a beautiful fusion of nature – at its best in the ephemeral beauty of the nocturnal blossoms – and the smokey elegance of after-dark allure; as well as the vivid expression of true inner freedom.
The Fall-Winter Collections introduce us to an adaptable wardrobe, combining masculine tailoring with lightweight slip dresses, impeccable suits with oversized tartan shawls, leather blousons with skirts layered over pants, trench coats approximating capes with ethereal dresses of deft transparencies, in addition to shearling coats and veiled tunics. For the fabrics used, the season’s keyword is softness. We wrap ourselves in the cocoon offered by bonded crêpe, cashmere bouclé, soft wool knits, classic plaid, devoré velvet, fil coupé, silk, and lace, complemented by contemporary elements like hot fix mesh, macramé, and sequins. Styles are rooted in the rich heritage of craftsmanship and savoir-faire, with designs that are timeless and enduring, showcasing femininity as a display of strength and distinction reminiscent of the 50s era.
Fashion gives away a sense of courage and escape. Details resembling armor, metallic features that speak of hidden strength, mysterious wide-brimmed hats, Laulhère-style military berets, and the obvious preference for solid colors and color-blocking define the image of a woman emboldened to face any challenge with poise and confidence, and to prevail – no frills, no fuss.
In the almost patternless aesthetic of fall-winter fashion, we get to enjoy an innovative and bold color palette that combines vibrant and joyful tones with essential, refined, and timeless ones, inviting experimentation. Alongside the infallible classic and style absolute black and white, clearly here to stay, the chromatic trend for the cold season presents sophisticated hematite-black and dark grays, sensual tones of red, magenta, plum, purple, powder pink, and rose violet, vibrant shades of blue and yellow, as well as delicate neutrals such as beige, camel, and off-white.
Always a fashion staple, red tells a story of passion, energy, and boldness. It’s also the color symbol of both femininity and women’s empowerment – our war paint forever. If omnivalence was a color, for sure it would be red, as it represents simultaneously something as sweet as love and as vigorous as strength. It comes as no surprise that this cold season, we get our emotional charge from wearing a vibrant and intense fiery red, as well as a darker but extremely igniting shade of red with purple undertones – magenta.
Selected also as the Pantone Color of 2023, Viva Magenta proves its utmost force of attraction in any style presented on the catwalks, be it a vinyl trench coat cinched at the waist with a triple belt, a leather trench coat coordinated with cuissardes boots, or a shearling or furry coat worn with tone-on-tone lingerie. Every time, it creates the bold and sensual look of strong femininity with a powerful mindset.
On the same vibe is purple, a color tied to kings and queens since back in the ancient world, this time in its sparkling grape shade – the perfect tone to add a touch of royal status to our winter wardrobe.
At the romantic end of the femininity spectrum, three shades of pink infuse sweetness and blushy grace into our cold-season style: powder rose, tender peach, and candy.
Quite a rare shade on the runways usually, gray is one of the most beloved neutral colors for the upcoming season, highly valued for its discretion and refinement, as well as for its capacity to convey elegance without the predictability of black. As lava smoke gray, it took the runways by storm, used by designers as a synonym of rigor, for women who love a masculine but cool style; to create outfits that embody the bourgeoisie style; or as a sophisticated shade, imbued with gravitas just perfect for intellectual femininity.
As a refreshing counterpoint to the dark tones’ dramatic intensity, yellow is another undisputed protagonist of fall-winter fashion. It may have something to do with our continuous craving for lightness and high spirits, but this versatile, intensely bright color, associated with the warmth and vitality of the sun, with joy and good cheer, is gaining more and more space in our wardrobes, becoming a trend destined to last. In shades ranging from mustard to canary or high-visibility neon, it creates outfits with a unique and original style, either as a saturated and enveloping shade, or used with contrasting magenta, lava gray, and burnt brick.
Another color perfect to bring freshness, serenity, and level-headedness to our lives, via our winter wardrobe, is blue. The captivating shade, reminiscent of the sky and the sea, inviting dreamy thoughts of a tropical getaway, is gaining more and more space in our closets. Atoll blue, teal, ocean blue, and Lacecap Hydrangea are the popular shades of blue proposed by fashion designers for the cold season, to all women who want to showcase their originality.
The ultimate exercise in color expression, beige tones have been widely used on the runways, applied to fluid, glossy, and semi-transparent silhouettes. From cappuccino to neutral skin and sand, beige tones suggest a warm and welcoming atmosphere, perfect for creating elegant and comfortable outfits. Beige has been used to create monochromatic looks, which play with softness, strength, and volume to create a refined effect, perfect for formal occasions, including the holiday season variety. Since, hey, whether we are ready for it or not, the end of this year is within reach.
If what they say about fall proves right, and we are indeed in the year’s moment of truth, then it’s time to admit that we’ve changed. Of course, it was unavoidable. Everything has changed in the last few years – the world, our lives, the way we see ourselves, who we are. We strayed from our lane slowly but surely, stepping out of a race we didn’t want to be in anymore. We won some, we learned some, we grew some. We moved on. There is no way back into the old lane.
Why should we? After all, we are on a road we built from scratch in the meantime, entirely on our own design. Let’s see where it takes us.