“We have seen a lot of sober, elegant set-ups. Not only do they look modern, but also more intimate — even if it’s big, there is a sense of appreciation of clothes instead of image production,” adds Brykalin.
Lucien Pagès, founder of the eponymous PR firm, noted that recent controversies in fashion had an impact on most of the shows. “Lots of brands changed their tone this season. We feel that there’s febrility. While brands are willing to impress with knockout shows, there’s carefulness for fear of controversy.” He also notes a move away from streetwear. “Elegance rules,” he says.
“Saint Laurent, The Row and Rick Owens all went back to the elegance and pure essence of their respective design DNA and visited their archives and refined their house codes this season,” adds Mytheresa buying director of womenswear and kidswear Tiffany Hsu, “It is all about beautiful tailoring, elegant lines and minimalistic silhouettes and shapes.”
Two camps emerged in response to the current socio-economic climate, says Ida Petersson, buying director at Browns. “One which is hellbent on offering pieces so beautiful that you simply have to invest in them, and the other is future-proofing by offering the ultimate wardrobe pieces that will last you a lifetime, where discreet luxury is the key phrase.”
Wearability was strong this season, agrees Libby Page, market director at Net-a-Porter. “Nineties minimalism has felt like the mood — and red has felt like the colour of the season. The Row and Valentino ticked both of these boxes.”
Ssense has invested in The Row, Rick Owens, Acne Studios and Lemaire for AW23, says Brigitte Chartrand, vice president of womenswear buying, noting both Dries Van Noten’s mirrored show venue and music performance and The Row’s minimal salon show as highlights.
Printemps chief merchandising officer Karen Vernet is increasing budget for The Row as well as Coperni, who both have “great potential and strong vision this season”, she says.
Is ready-to-wear getting closer to couture? Givenchy creative director Matthew Williams sent out two looks that were crafted in the couture atelier. Alexander McQueen returned to the Paris calendar with a stunning collection. “Back in Paris, [creative director Sarah Burton] chose the apposite moment to remind people of the sharpness and excellence of the tailoring — for women and men — and the expression of a darkly explosive imagination that is alive in the McQueen ateliers in London,” Vogue Runway’s Sarah Mower wrote.