With the use of unconventional materials and catwalk comedy, this season’s runways mastered the art of buzz.
When things get tough, sometimes all you need is a good distraction. This was the unofficial tagline at Milan Fashion Week Spring 2023. From doppelgänger styling at Gucci to chaotic collapsing models at Avavav, shock-factor fashion was in full effect — and proved to be more powerful than ever.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Fashion Week without nods to the current cultural climate. Across the Italian city, runways referenced the anxiety we’re all feeling in 2022. Designers combined hardness and levity, with burgeoning trends including biker aesthetics, veils as streetwear, maximalist layering and lots of unconventional footwear. And more often than not, collections referenced the past. This week, nostalgia was a collective source of inspiration as some brands revamped their archives while others tapped era-defining celebrities.
From head-turning stunts to more-is-more ensembles, Milan Fashion Week Spring 2023 set a new standard for meme-worthy material. Below, we break it down with a roundup of this year’s most viral runway moments.
Gucci: Two is better than one
Identical twins have long been used as a tool for captivating — albeit sometimes frightening — storytelling. After all, seeing double forces us to reconsider, reinterpret and relish in what’s in front of us. So it only makes sense that at Gucci’s Spring 2023 show, there was a lot to take in. Creative director Alessandro Michele sent 68 sets of identical twins down the runway for his “Twinsburg” presentation. With clashing patterns, flashy sequins, low-slung skirts and other-worldly accessories, the maximalist collection was an unrestricted exploration of identity. Not to mention, it gave us a whole new appreciation for matching sets.
Versace: That’s hot
Is there anything more quintessentially Y2K than Paris Hilton? In the age of early 2000s nostalgia, Versace had the right idea when it tapped The Simple Life star to close its Spring 2023 show. Donning a hot pink sparkly mini dress, Hilton’s runway look was reminiscent of a night out clubbing circa 2002. But Donatella Versace’s vision went beyond glitzy heiress chic. Her collection had an underlying dark aesthetic, featuring hoods, spiky knits, motorcycle jackets and leather mini skirts. Most notable? The runway’s theme of edgy veils in black, purple and acid-wash yellow. Looks like next spring will be the season of punk-ified brides.
Avavav: Trip-ups happen
A fall on the runway garners attention — and usually not the kind a brand is looking for. But for Avavav’s first live show, models intentionally tripped all over the place. One by one, they dramatically fell to the floor — knees buckling and arms flailing — in a running gag that parodied the very nature of the catwalk. The collection, titled “Filthy Rich,” was creative director Beate Karlsson’s way of exploring fashion’s obsession with displays of wealth and superficiality. Unsurprisingly, the unconventional presentation featured even kookier designs. Think chicken feet shoes, bedazzled dollar-sign motifs, Rolex chokers and Chewbacca-esque boots. It’s satire-meets-sartorialism. And we’re totally falling for it.
Diesel: Is that a skirt or a belt?
It’s a micro-mini skirt’s world, we’re just living in it. For Diesel’s Spring 2023 presentation, creative director Glenn Martens proved fashion’s fixation on the Y2K garment isn’t disappearing, it’s evolving. The ’90s denim brand experimented with the trend via barely-there strap skirts in silver, shredded fabric and alligator-skin-like leather. The collection also redefined what denim can do by introducing boxy biker jackets, bustiers, feathery visuals and acid-wash mini dresses. Even decades later, Diesel continues to prove it has its proverbial hand on the pulse.
Fendi: These shoes aren’t made for walking
If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a hundred times: absurdist footwear is the moment. On the Fendi runway, creative director Kim Jones put a modern twist on trending platforms by presenting iterations of fuzzy slides, knee-high boots and sleek sandals. The collection referenced his predecessor Karl Lagerfeld and presented sheer, layered and silky silhouettes that blended muted hues with garish greens. But it was the rubber wedges that really stole the show. After slipping out of them due to a moisturizing mishap, one model took off their shoes mid-catwalk — offering a perfect photo-op for the logo-emblazoned soles.
Dolce & Gabbana: Keeping Up With The Kardashians
With a track record of misogyny, racism and homophobia, Dolce & Gabbana has a reputation — and not the good kind. But so, too, does Kim Kardashian. And after wearing a lineup of vintage outfits for her sister Kourtney’s Dolce & Gabbana-themed wedding, the beauty mogul entered talks with designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana to curate their next presentation. The result? A collection titled “Ciao Kim” filled with corsets, gauzy dresses and leopard prints pulled from the 1987 to 2007 archives. Throughout the show, a video of her eating spaghetti played in the background, models wore blinged-out chokers that read “Kim,” and Kardashian-approved body-con silhouettes ruled the runway. It was an unadulterated ode to the reality star and the Italian brand, murky ethics and all. Come to think of it, it’s a collab that kind of works.
BOSS: It’s called power dressing
As Naomi Campbell opened the BOSS show in an oversized suit and trench coat, she set the tone for the presentation’s central theme: What does a boss look like? For the label’s Fall/Winter 2022 collection, creative director Marco Falcioni reinvented archival pieces to fit the ever-changing description of a leader today. Inspired by “soft power,” the collection traded in the rigid tailoring of the past for playful proportions, slouchy silhouettes and mixed textures. Models of all different genders, sizes and heights walked the runway sporting edgy elements like biker helmets, leather accents and futuristic metallics. In doing so, Boss deconstructed the politics of the power suit.