Fashion Show Reviews

Etro Pre-Fall 2023

Etro Pre-Fall 2023

Marco De Vincenzo’s vision at the creative helm of Etro is taking shape: For pre-fall 2023, the designer unveiled a cohesive, chic effort that offered better clarity on the design seeds he planted in his debut collection in September.

This second lineup confirmed the new Etro to be younger, cleaner in its silhouettes and rich in texture. As De Vincenzo had more time to get to know the brand, he showed an even stronger determination to put the textile heritage of the Italian company at the core of his designs. (Not coincidentally, he set the look book images in the impressive library housed at Etro’s Milan headquarters, filled with textile tomes tracing back to the 19th century.)

Keeping with his seminal collection, De Vincenzo avoided the longtime association between Etro and paisley to favor eccentric, tapestry-like patterns and graphic prints with a ‘70s flavor. Most silhouettes further evoked the decade with their elongated lines, flared or ruffled details while others had a more ‘60s vibe with geometric shapes, cropped proportions and short hemlines.

The visual strength of the patterns could have overwhelmed, but De Vincenzo’s main contribution to Etro so far has been his focus on simple, classic shapes.

Cue tapestry-like cropped tops, miniskirts and unfussy dresses with lace detailing as well as printed midi frocks and separates such as bomber jackets and shirts. A look pairing a skintight graphic knit and furry miniskirt was chic in its simplicity and tactile contrast.

Focusing on the mannish codes that are part of Etro’s heritage, De Vincenzo included a series of velvet suits and gave the brand’s signature striped shirts a feminine spin in ruffled dresses. He splashed floral motifs on printed organza to amplify the romantic vibe, and experimented with denim patchworks for more everyday options.

“It’s all about one or two pieces [per look] in order not to confuse codes, which in this moment for me are important to stay pure so that people can read them.…I’m obsessed with lost chances, and I believe a cleaner approach can reignite attention on things Etro already did in the past,” said De Vincenzo during a walk-through.

Other key contributions were the exploration of monochrome looks and a revamp of accessories. For the former, he came up with delicate floral embroideries that could nod to the brand also in palette-cleansing black pieces, as seen on a micro vest and a trenchcoat. For the latter, De Vincenzo put to good use his 20-year experience designing handbags — he retains his role in the Fendi leather goods design department — by developing new shapes, such as the sophisticated Vela bag that finished off this strong, polished collection.

Diesel Pre-Fall 2023

Diesel Pre-Fall 2023

Images of the world taken from space were merged in a print introduced in Diesel’s pre-fall 2023 collection, offering a visual reminder of the global Diesel-ization mission Glenn Martens started upon his arrival at the brand two years ago.

Offering a new take on camouflage, the pattern added to the universal appeal of denim and evoked the company’s goal of blending geographies and welcoming everyone to the brand, one embedded in Diesel DNA’s that has been successfully dusted off and revamped by Martens.

Asked about the formula that enabled him to put Diesel back on the fashion map so quickly — but in a category all its own since Martens constantly says the brand is an alternative to luxury players — the designer pointed to its straightforward attitude, “not taking yourself too seriously, having fun, being honest. No bulls–t. I think people need that.”

It’s a recipe even clearer in pre-collections, where Martens takes a more straightforward approach compared to his over-the-top fashion shows as he further widens the brand’s scope to appeal to a larger audience while still hammering on Diesel’s key codes of all-things-denim, pop inflections and utilitarian vibes.

“Pre-collection is fully democratic….we’re talking to people [who] are not specifically into fashion. They’re more into attitudes and lifestyle,” said the creative director. Hence, for pre-fall 2023, garments and accessories multiplied — cue a new collaboration with Luxottica for sunglasses or the new Charm-D quilted bag crafted with denim leftovers.

Keeping with Diesel’s irreverent attitude, Martens included denim pants cut with biker detailing, distressed, slashed on the ankles or with jersey inserts on the sides in flared or baggy styles. For an extra dose of Y2K nostalgia (if more were still needed), the brand’s D logo appeared in a blown-up scale on the back of miniskirts and jeans.

Yet the sexy, unapologetic spirit of the Diesel woman was best conveyed through denim dresses with front zippers and long skirts, woven denim track tops as well as metallic hooded frocks, wrap skirts and tops with a futuristic vibe embellished with the omnipresent D buckle. Highlights also included a yellow knitted look stretching over the body and printed airy options, such as slipdresses and caftans. Flanking the world map pattern, an acid floral motif splashed on frocks and cropped padded jackets energized the raw appeal of the lineup with its vibrant orange, pink and red hues.

The pop, rave and biking worlds were juxtaposed to both utilitarian cargo pants and bombers in maxi volumes and dark soft tailoring — a category Martens tiptoed into earlier this year and further indulged in for pre-fall as, surprising even to him, it resonated well with customers.

Minuit RTW Spring 2023

Minuit RTW Spring 2023

Textiles were once more in the driving seat for the fifth collection of Minuit, where Laurie Arbellot started with easy jersey and a pleated fabric with a dry hand she found in Italy that reminded her of Mariano Fortuny’s work.

Their dichotomy led her to think about New York, the place she credits for teaching her “the codes of American sportswear, its downtown cool,” and developing her taste for mannish, slouchy cuts.

Injected into Minuit’s Parisian mien, it gave straightforward zhuzhed up with colorful topstitched outlines, or the pairing of pleated dresses with a sporty bralet. Her signature balloon-sleeved dress returned in monogrammed mesh, owing to the designer’s intention to make it “a bit cheekier” by pairing it with a black bodysuit. (Its commercial variant comes with an optional liner.)

Elsewhere, it was a compact lineup of smart boxy blousons and oversize trousers in a palette of black and white with bright pops of blue, orange or metallics. Those provided offcuts Arbello used to introduce her first handbag design, a double pouch style in contrasting materials.

Shown during a cocktail hour presentation, Arbellot’s midday-to-midnight wardrobe certainly felt like an attractive option for girls on the go.

Nehera RTW Spring 2023

Nehera RTW Spring 2023

In real life, the street is one’s runway. That exposure was captured by Slovak collective Nehera’s latest collection, which quietly pushed back against the public power of judgments that often frame women’s dressing as either too sexy or too masculine. Cue big boxy turtlenecks cropped to expose just enough midriff, baggy blazers coordinated in bright colorblocks, or wrap-waist dresses that cinch the form but still leave space around the body.

The brand framed its collection as “mentally friendly and physically enjoyable,” meant for ease of movement in everyday life, while elevating basics with crisp cuts. Jackets were reimagined here, with two convertible standouts — one asymmetric cut that can be disassembled at the back to create a single side piece, and another that can be worn long or buttoned up so the inner lining is exposed for a flash of sheen.

Nehera experimented with textures such as a mottled seersucker on a pleated dress and what the designers called “goo” dotted on poplin then washed to create soft, puckered cotton. The brand collaborated this season with Antwerp-based artist Juraj Straka on a bright floral print.

The collection was an inventive revisit of everyday wear with an air of subversive elegance. And as the digital presentation made clear, these clothes were made for the female gaze.

Heliot Emil RTW Spring 2023

Heliot Emil RTW Spring 2023

Danish designer Julius Juul riffed on the four elements for his sexy spring collection, which was full of body-hugging looks embellished with slits and zips, as well as billowing jackets and accessories.

Juul called his brand of fashion “industrial elegance” and continued to take a sculptural approach to fashion-making.

“We took a lot of time to look at how the different elements are interpreted in both motorsports and other industries — where they do air slits, [use] aerodynamics, all these things,” he explained after the show.

Pockets come in organic shapes, referring to maps’ contour lines. Water takes the form of slick repellent fabrics, sourced from Alpinestars, the maker of professional motorsport performance gear that’s also often fireproof.

Wind was channeled into big, fluffy garments, such as jackets, and accessories, like the crossbody bag. “We worked with these wind turbines that produce air into garments,” said Juul, adding of the collection’s making-of: “It’s an exploration.”

And that translates into a sleek elevation of streetwear.

Johanna Ortiz RTW Spring 2023

Johanna Ortiz RTW Spring 2023

Johanna Oritiz traveled the globe to pull together a treasure trove of inspirations, from the colors of saris in India, filtered through the flora and fauna of her home country of Colombia and with an added bit of Spanish flamenco flair for this season’s collection of feminine dresses.

In bright greens, deep purple and rich browns, Ortiz played on the travel theme with palm prints, triple-tired skirts and fringed mantoncillos that did double duty across the collection, first as traditional cover-ups then translated into fringes on skirts and ’70s-inspired halter dresses. There was flounce in her skirts this season, but she still cuts a sharp blazer for a modern touch.

As always, Ortiz’s accessories were an intriguing strong point, particularly her handwoven bags. Each one was unique and takes months to make. This season some were mask-shaped, inspired by the Embera tradition, talismans for an evening out.

Ortiz is vocal about keeping her production in Colombia even as her business expands. She works with local artisans and established a trade school to teach couture-level craft. She also offers up a new ethos, one of staying small.

As orders amp up, “it’s become a challenge,” Ortiz said. “But I don’t want to make it, like, massive. I just want to make it unique and relevant for those that really appreciate it,” she said of her brand, which has developed a loyal following.

“People tell me you need to produce [outside of Colombia] to become bigger, to sell more, but I think that I want to keep it as I’m doing it — simple.”

For pulling in from all these traditions, her vision feels very modern.

Ambush RTW Spring 2023

Ambush RTW Spring 2023

Life is a party for Ambush’s Yoon Ahn. Inspired by club culture — particularly the rave scene in Tokyo in the ’90s — she created a series of personas, like youngsters donning a form of costume for a night of hedonism.

Beyond the riotous frenzy of color, fabric choices and embellishment — with Day-Glo colors, psychedelic prints and riotous combinations of feathers, glitter and synthetic fur (pink bunny ear balaclava, anyone?) — dictated by the theme, there was a clear aesthetic to the silhouettes and an overriding practicality to the design approach. The theme was incidentally right on trend at one end of the spectrum in the Paris collections this season.

Shapes were either super-slinky — barely there cropped tops and skirts and cute patchwork knits — or very oversize, with key silhouettes reprised in a variety of ways.

Superwide raver pants in stone-washed denim were given a multitude of practical pockets. Cropped jeans were overlaid with a cargo skirt, or their top part spliced with a superlong, split-front skirt in technical fabric or allover sequins. Bomber jackets were given integrated backpacks, a tailored jacket stitched onto a utility vest so it could be slung off to hang down the back when the temperature rises.

These were accessorized with heavy raver boots, metallic platform sandals and signature heart-shaped bags (as a backpack or padlock-like number to attach to the belt, they were super-practical, too) and chunky jewelry pieces, including a flash drive necklace, inspired by Y2K.

Paula Canovas del Vas RTW Spring 2023

Paula Canovas del Vas RTW Spring 2023

“It often feels like fashion, like design and architecture, are only about the visuals, leaving the other senses out,” said Paula Canovas del Vas, referencing to “The Eyes of the Skin,” a tome by Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa where he explains that well-designed buildings are those where multiple senses are engaged.

So for her spring collection, the 2022 LVMH Prize semifinalist wanted to tempt all the senses, offering clothes and accessories full of textures, colors and shapes in an artistic performance around food. One of her looks was even printed into the icing of a large sheet cake, perched away from hungry guests.

Organic elements and a bright palette nodded to the natural world, with Canovas del Vas describing them in zoological terms. To wit, horned footwear and spiny handbags looked like sea creatures escaping their tanks.

There were sweaters with circular cutouts at nipple level. Canovas del Vas made them Instagram-friendly by covering the breasts with pasties that had star aniseed pods attached to them.  

For something to wear without having to raid one’s spice rack, she offered dresses, jackets and separates that looked like a particularly crafty repurposing of parachutes. Cords built into them made it easy to dial down or pump up their volumes as desired. These along with denim overlaid with fuchsia or Klein blue tulle looked easily cool.

Coperni RTW Spring 2023

Coperni RTW Spring 2023

Earlier this year, Bella Hadid was scanned in 3D to create her CY-B3LLA range of NFTs, sending out 11,111 digital versions of herself in the metaverse.

On Friday, the model walked onto a runway in Paris wearing nothing but a thong and stepped onto a podium, where two men proceeded to spray her with a chemical solution, gradually covering her naked body in a white layer. Welcome to the world’s first live-action spray-on dress.

Technology and fashion have always been uneasy bedfellows, but if anyone can make science sexy, then it’s Coperni designers Arnaud Vaillant and Sébastien Meyer, who partnered with Dr. Manel Torres, the inventor of the Spray-on fabric, for the performance.

The geekery didn’t end there. The designers recorded a video of a flower blossoming, and used it to print layers on lenticular fabric to create a hologram. Dresses made from the fabric appeared in the collection and on Kylie Jenner, who sat in the front row. 

Backstage before the show, the married couple, who finish each other’s sentences, said: “It’s an homage to women in general, and the evolution of the morphology and the body through centuries.”

A jacket attached to the back of a dress subtly alluded to the crinolines of the past, yet Vaillant and Meyer are clearly more interested in the future. Outfits with boxy power shoulders were inspired by the block-shaped avatars on game platform Roblox, while a clingy dress with a slashed neckline was a nod to the woman in the red dress in “The Matrix.”

Stripping out all the sci-fi stuff, there were plenty of wearable clothes in the lineup, which checked this season’s trend for boudoir styles, with outfits like negligees pulled diagonally over one shoulder, and paired smashing tailored pants with cropped versions of the bomber jacket, the trench coat and the corduroy jacket.

Following the success of their handblown glass Swipe handbag last season, Arnaud and Vaillant imagined a version made with one kilogram of 18-karat gold, which will be melted down after the show. Likewise, Hadid’s dress can be dissolved and the material reused.

“You can recreate a dress infinitely,” Meyer marveled. Will clothes eventually come in a can? Will recycling textiles take on a whole new meaning? Beyond the wow factor of watching Hadid walk down the runway in her instant dress, the show raised all kinds of fascinating questions about how technology will change the way we clothe ourselves not only in the virtual world, but IRL.

Isabel Marant RTW Spring 2023

Isabel Marant RTW Spring 2023

Gigi and Bella Hadid led the charge in the leggy Isabel Marant show on Thursday night.

There hasn’t been much boho on the runways this season, but Marant can always be counted on to deliver it in one way or another. Spring was no exception, as she sent out swingy tops and fluttery minidresses with macramé details, strappy cutout necklines or open backs that made shoulders an erogenous zone.

Micro minis in leather or allover metallic embroidery put legs in the spotlight, as did barely there “no-shoe” low-heeled sandals.

The designer wanted to pay special attention to craft, she said backstage, hence a super-sexy crochet swimsuit, a cool ropey tunic resembling a piece of fiber art and several open-weave knits.

Per usual, leather dressing was part of the equation, this season with a moto vibe. A snug black moto jacket and short shorts set was great looking, while earth-tone parachute silk cargo jackets, pants and shorts for men and women showed a softer side. The season’s denim had a lower waist and came with slim or baggy legs, balancing out the ethereal tops.

“It’s the contrast of opposites I’ve always loved in the brand,” Marant explained backstage.

It was refreshing to see intricate metallic embroidery on the runways again on the miniskirts, a fringe-y racer-back cropped top and chic bolero vest. These jewels for the body had a vintage feel and a whiff of exoticism. And they will no doubt launch a thousand copies, which is another thing Marant can always be counted on to deliver: cool-girl trend pieces that resonate at all levels of the market.

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