Fashion Shows

Pre-Fall 2023 in New York: The Contemporary Collections

Pre-Fall 2023 in New York: The Contemporary Collections

The pre-fall season is one often referenced by designers as a transitional period of wardrobing built to accompany their customers’ summer travels, day-to-day and officewear, events and, of course, fall-friendly carry-through layers. So far, the season has seen a mix of trends such as slip dressing, pastel hues, modern takes on the polo, updated denim and a minimalist style emerging in tandem from the luxury and contemporary markets.
Here, WWD rounds up the ever-expanding contemporary market’s offerings for the pre-fall season.

Vince Pre-Fall 2023

Courtesy of Vince


According to economist George Taylor’s hemline index theory, the length of women’s skirts and dresses can be indicative of the direction of financial markets. In theory, hemlines rise in times of economic prosperity and elongate when the economy slows.

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“I’m feeling a sort of stripped down vibe,” Vince creative director Caroline Belhumeur said, “raising hemlines, not mini but just below the knee.” A subtle shift in silhouette, but meaningful, injecting newness into Belhumeur’s more austere offering for the season with cleaner shapes in her monochromatic matching sets, for example a pleated shirt with zip-up jacket over a textured T-shirt top or bralette. Knits are discreetly tactile, breathable and perfect for a summer outing or over her caramel leather pencil skirt. Color has been in the mix the past few seasons, shown here in a pastel violet sheer slipdress over satin. Sheer details are throughout, like on piping on a skirt, are little winks to a growing trend.

“When you change your hemline. All of a sudden your wardrobe adjusts because you look different with a coat on or you look different with a shirt or a sweater,” Belhumeur explained, underscoring how she builds a wardrobe for a client who wants more than just seasonal trends. “It’s a simple way of doing it for a customer without having to change everything.” 

Tanya Taylor Pre-Fall 2023

Courtesy of Tanya Taylor

Tanya Taylor

“We really focused on things feeling very natural and feminine. I got very inspired to paint prints that had interesting color combinations,” Tanya Taylor said during a walk-through of her elegant and artful pre-fall collection.

The designer took signature ideas and whipped them up as streamlined, transitional layers to carry through summer into the fall through a mix of neutral (sand, chalk, olive, deep sea green) and color pop (kiwi, shell pink, vibrant aqua) hues. For instance, knit dresses with new smocking details, hand-crochet color-pop inserts and soft lettuce edging; versatile linen jackets atop feminine dresses and skirt sets; a sleek color-blocked bias column gown; twisted shirting and chic polka-dot dressing in the form of a drop-waist dress or whipstitch lace-up top with matching trouser. 

Whether looking for a relaxed yet elevated summer dress or transitional wardrobing (a la scuba-crepe draped dress or cotton boucle twin set), each look offered a refined take to Taylor’s signature femininity.

Lela Rose Pre-Fall 2023

Courtesy of Lela Rose

Lela Rose

“We’re loosely calling it under the sea as a funny jump-off point, and it actually started as a funny way of coming together,” Lela Rose said of her pre-fall collection, which had a jumping-off point from visiting Coney Island’s iconic Mermaid Parade. The designer loves costume parties and themes, and was inspired to reinterpret the under-the-sea themes into a playful (but not overtly kitschy) lineup of pretty feminine fashions. 

Aside from an adorable open-weave fisherman sweater with dangling fish charms, a soft painterly under-the-sea print (with fish, running water and coral) on sweet dresses, and trenchcoat with fish and striped “fish scale” embroideries, Rose rendered the inspiration lightly. For instance, a crushed plissé blue cocktail dress that mimicked undulating waves; “buried treasure” metallic beaded trousers; oversize blue and turquoise shell buttons on matching monochromatic tailored sets, and breezy sailor striped maxidresses. 

Although an outlier to the overall theme, body-hugging knit dresses (a strapless tube dress with file coupe-inspired maxi florals or long-sleeve ivory ribbed number with slim open-stitch sleeve details) served as strong new ideas for the brand.

LoveShackFancy Pre-Fall 2023

Courtesy of LoveShackFancy


“We have here summer and pre-fall, which is the first time we’ve shifted the seasons a little bit. Summer is our classic traveling free-spirited girl — we had little bits of Capri, Saint-Tropez and Ibiza. We just opened our store in London so I was really inspired by those European girls and the jet-set vibe of being fresh off the beach, putting her hair up and throwing on a gown,” LoveShackFancy’s Rebecca Hessel Cohen said during a preview of her latest collections.

Summer exuded the brand’s quintessential feminine vibe with a nod to ‘90s and the 2000s with bias slip dressing (a standout ruffled “candy sparkle” midi dress or lace camisole with maxiskirt), summery knits (including new Alaïa-inspired jersey bodycon dresses), quintessential lace, floral, ikat and macramé beach-to-event wardrobing and, of course, flirty party attire (including a standout mermaid-esque netted gown and vintage-inspired minis). 

The ideas nicely translated into pre-fall’s “golden hour,” dusty-toned assortment of Peruvian hand-knit sweaters and little cardigans paired with a variety of easy skirts (ranging from an airy tulle maxi to sweet ruffled minis), a strong black crochet pant with matching bra-top and romantic event dresses (a gold metallic lamé pleated gown). Overall, the collections exuded a romantic summer spirit with plenty of versatility from day to night.

Derek Lam 10 Crosby Pre-Fall 2023

Courtesy of Derek Lam 10 Crosby

Derek Lam 10 Crosby

“We were feeling for much a soft or subdued palette,” explained vice president of design Shawn Reddy, referencing the films of French New Wave film director Éric Rohmer. “Prints and things just felt like a little bit more easy, kind of this high summer romantic vibe.”

The nostalgic starting point translated into summery staples like an embroidered white tweed jacket, a wide mix of light wash jeans and dreamy floral dresses. Fabrics were airy, like a soft linen shirting seen on a pistachio hued dress with rosette detail. Suiting is loose, like a chambray wide-leg pant and double-breasted blazer with a sharp shoulder, perfect for a summer Friday at the office or a stroll through a park.

Youthful pieces with the pre-styled design twists the brand has imbued in it’s work since its beginning, their customer will find plenty of pieces to add newness from high summer into fall.

Adeam Pre-Fall 2023

Courtesy of Adeam


Tennis anyone? Adeam’s Hanako Maeda mused on the sport through the lens of her childhood summers spent in the resorts of Kawaguchiko. American preppy with her Japanese sensibilities, the hybridization produced a cardigan and pleated dress combo, oxford stripe shirtings layered with sheer striped fabric that became pleated summer dresses.

“Nineties prep is having a comeback with the Japanese youth,” Maeda said at an appointment in her Upper East Side studio. “It’s through the lens of the young Japanese people in like Tokyo and like Harajuku. They do a lot of layering and mix and match of different pieces. And a lot of the layering and also the more like oversize, off-kilter shapes.”

There was a crispness to her work, with interesting takes on the polo juxtaposed with a poplin button down and a grass green cotton dress with shoulder ruffle details or a wrinkle resistant technical fabric asymmetrical plaid skirt/top/jacket number. It was American sporty married to Maeda’s take on youthful Eastern style.

Cinq à Sept Pre-Fall 2023

Courtesy of Cinq à Sept

Cinq à Sept

“We hearkened to the romance and excitement of the 1920s and ‘30s while, of course, adding a bit of ‘70s, because that’s my thing. Really trying to evoke that romantic feeling,” Jane Siskin said of her latest collection for Cinq à Sept. The collection didn’t overtly lean into one era or the other (as it also incorporated moments of ’90s and 2000s nostalgia), but rather touched on references with a festive, feminine and glam spirit.

The clothing embraced the romantic spirit through new lightly ruffled and ruched vintage floral slip dressing (ranging from sweet babydolls to sweeping gowns) in pretty pastels while celebrating 1920s opulence with fun, party-worthy new embellishments. For instance, tailoring with cascading crystal fringe or jewelry-like crystal trims (as seen on a green three-piece suit) or standout sheer midi skirts and blouses emblazoned with crystal teardrops. Elsewhere, the designer continued to uplift her structured denim assortment with patchwork and corsetry details (best seen on a dark wash minidress) and peppered in on-trend cargo parachute pants to mix with her girly tops.

Merlette Pre-Fall 2023

Courtesy of Merlette


For the pre-fall season, Brooklyn, New York-based Merlette designer Marina Cortbawi looked to 1950s cinema and the contemporary paintings of Swedish artist Mamma Andersson for handcraft and romanticism — two pillars also key to her brand. To capture the collection with a more cinematic lens toward the “rhythms of daily life with beauty,” Cortbawi worked with filmmaker Carlotta Guerrero and creative director Roxane Danset.

“There’s a lot of textural elements in [Andersson’s] works, as well as realistic depictions of textiles. We took a lot from her in color palette and her Western elements, like the ikat-inspired landscapes. The other inspiration was the film “Giant” with Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean, really focusing on that power of the landscape, the mood, palette of blue sky and Taylor’s character as a muse.”

The collection lightly riffed on Western elements with ikat-inspired floral prints, debut denim and artisanal belts, chambray layers, hand-done soutache and contrast stitching details and tiered silhouettes derived from diamond patterned hand-smocking across her airy fashions while embracing the landscape’s palette with terracotta, off-white, chalk, khaki, Berber blue and deep pink hues. As always, the designer found new ways to tweak her thoughtful signature blouses and dresses with shirred paneling, pintucks and pleats, subtle asymmetrical neck and hemlines and more cinched waists while upping the ante in knitwear with the introduction of lightweight striped knit midi skirts and jumpers.

L’Angece Pre-Fall 2023

Courtesy of L’Angece


The summer season for L’Agence is all about versatility.

“There’s a reason for everything, and what we’ve found is that we know her better than her best friend, and more importantly, that we dress her for every occasion. From the minute you wake up until you go to sleep, there’s a story,” fashion director Tara Rudes Dan said of the brand’s latest collection. “Right now is the time to have fun in denim. Where we’ve built the client is, she’s looking for all the newness,” she added of the expanded assortment, which included Barbie pink styles, coated denim, new utility styles and more.

There’s wasn’t one specific narrative or theme, but rather a wide variety of easy-to-wear, elevated wardrobing that bridged casual day and officewear (loads of new denim with flattering camisoles and bestselling blouses; updated colorful suiting) and a mix of travel- and party-minded attire (ranging from a variety of slipdresses to shimmering jackets) with playful footwear to match.

Kate Spade New York RTW Spring 2023

Courtesy of Kate Spade New York

Kate Spade New York

Freshly minted creative directors Tom Mora and Jennifer Lyu have found their footing at Kate Spade New York. Taking the reins in spring, the duo have firmly found their voice channeling the elegance mixed with playful kitch the brand is known for.

Their pre-fall is decidedly summer, with embellished lemons on a white T-shirt, paired with a lemon print A-line skirt. Wide navy strips, colorful floral prints — American summer staples — were seen on dresses and separates, like an off the shoulder floral print top with puff sleeves styled with a high-waisted striped wide-leg pant, the playfulness was on full display, but the real fun came from the accessories like shell shaped bags, stacked colorful bangles and printed bucket hats.

The duo have leaned into the charm and wit with the the unexpected pairing in styling and conversation-starting novelty accessories — fun, easily approachable pieces for summer’s most memorable occasions.

Aknvas Pre-Fall 2023

Courtesy of Aknvas


Christian Juul Nielsen’s Aknvas brand is growing, doing well at wholesale and landing on celebrities like Ariana Grande. Being in the mix at retail means his nascent brand now has pre-collection baked in as part of his deliveries. So, while this is his first pre-fall collection, Nielsen is delivering his trademark Scandinavian design with a firm summer bent. “I thought about what do you wear when it’s super hot in the city and you cannot wear anything. You just want to wear thin shirts,” he said of his mood. Thinner, breathable fabrications were the lynchpin to his work, like his tiered ruffle dress in neon, a style he has created before but here, it’s light and airy.

His work is super feminine, with sporty details and unexpected shapes, like a vegan leather black short dress with ruffle hem fused with a white T-shirt tank. Skin is in with crop top blazers paired with a wide-leg pant for a summer suit, a statement maker but not for the office. Knits are lighter too, but still with the nubby volume he has channeled in seasons past. Need an easy summer tote? His comes with ruffles and rope cascading down, a crafty take on the seasonless handbag staple.

Hervé Léger Pre-Fall 2023

Courtesy of Hervé Léger

Hervé Léger

Inspired by a trip to Hudson’s Dia Beacon contemporary art museum to see the large-scale architectural works of Richard Serra, creative director Christian Juul Nielsen injected his latest collection for Hervé Léger with intriguing dimension through organic lines and new fabric combinations.

“I thought there was something interesting about these feminine organic curves that swirl around the body and are strategically placed to emphasize the female shape,” he said of the elevated lineup, which incorporated a dense technical half milano, flat knit with silk georgette in the form of a tank dress in lieu of the brand’s signature bandage look. There was also a standout multilayered three-piece asymmetric black look that played to the inspiration with soft volumes.

Nielsen also upped the ante by mixing new fabrications into the lineup. “I think that’s where there’s space for the brand to grow,” he explained. “To do it dramatically feels a bit pointless, it’s more organic for me to little by little add more fabrics into the collection. We started last season with a few chiffon skirts, and now this season, we have a fitted compact knit that we drape taffeta around with a couture vibe. The same with the silk chiffon, which is draped around the hips,” he said of two standout blush pink minidresses. Elsewhere, the designer’s knits (both dresses and matching sets) boasted knitted mesh textures, curved cutouts, swirled motifs and sheer technical nylon panels with modern, graphic appeal.

A.L.C. Pre-Fall 2023

Courtesy of A.L.C.


Bright, sensual and beachy. If that is your summer spirit, A.L.C. has it in spades. Inspired by Positano, Italy, the designer Andrea Lieberman leaned in with vacation focused unfussy warm weather staples with crochet dresses, crop tops and white denim.

Lieberman’s relaxed Los Angeles DNA is right in step for a summer getaway with easy takes on evening dresses with a bandeau top with side cutout and full skirt, a crochet detail prairie dress in salmon or a playful take on mens sky blue shirting, with a short-sleeve button down, cropped with an elastic detail.

Swim is a new category for the brand and has grown significantly, with the seasonal prints ending up on rash guards, maillots and more. Throw it all in one of her oversize raffia bags and your summer vacation in Europe wardrobe is sorted.

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.

Maitrepierre RTW Spring 2023

Maitrepierre RTW Spring 2023

Alphonse Maitrepierre gleaned inspiration for spring from the 1970 Jacques Demy fantasy-comedy film “Peau d’Âne,” or “Donkey Skin.” “It’s just so crazy — like a fairy tale,” said Maitrepierre, who was taken by the movie’s “dreamy,” “powerful,” “poetic” aesthetic, including lots of color. He also loved its anachronistic vibe.

Similarly, Maitrepierre always tries to marry past and present sartorial elements. For spring 2023, his sustainable garments are a mash-up of 17th-century tailoring and streetwear, leading to unexpected, eye-catching silhouettes.

Most dramatic were the opening and closing looks, starting with a flower-print body suit worn with a swirly puffer cape-like flourish and ending with a similarly voluminous white mantle sported over white shorts and a cropped shirt.

 In between, floral prints abounded, as did solids, in the likes of pink or light blue.

Wide denim trousers with a wraparound fabric belt stretched mid-torso. A golden, flowing satin dress had a deep slit and oversized sleeves yet showed bared shoulders. A lot was thrown into this mix.

At the show Maitrepierre also unveiled a collaboration with Desigual, made up of 100 percent sustainable pieces, including bags and shoes. He was impressed by the Spanish brand’s archives (“magnificent, “super contemporary”) and its close relationship to nature.

White Milano Is the First Stop as Saudi Arabia Rolls Out Commercial Strategy

White Milano Is the First Stop as Saudi Arabia Rolls Out Commercial Strategy

MILAN — Following the success of the exhibit of 100 Saudi Arabian designers in Riyadh and most recently New York, the nation’s Fashion Commission will cut the ribbon on its first commercial, wholesale event ever, here at White Milano.
The tradeshow, which will run from Thursday to Sunday, will host the Saudi 100 Brands Program, 85 percent of which are females. Within the first edition of its ExpoWhite format, White Milano has created a showcase for overseas talent to interface with the international market. Delegations from Brazil, the Netherlands, and South Africa, will also be present. 

“White is a great platform for Saudi designers to engage with the international wholesale market. With its focus on introducing new fashion perspectives to international buyers, White is a great partner for the Saudi 100 Brands program,” Saudi Arabia’s Fashion Commission chief executive officer Burak Cakmak told WWD, adding that the commission will unveil more local and international exhibitions, wholesale and retail activations in the near term.

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Dazluk, designed by Salma Zahran

Courtesy image

The government does not have public data on the size of its local fashion industry though Saudi Arabia, the Arab region’s largest economy, is forecast to remain the largest retail market in the GCC. The Saudi Arabia Fashion Commission said the figure is projected to grow by more than 8 percent annually, driven by e-commerce platforms like Ounass and luxury’s success in brick-and-mortar spaces in the Al Faisaliah Mall and Kingdom Centre in Riyadh.

According to a report published by the Chalhoub Group In 2021 in collaboration with the fashion commission, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s luxury market grew 19 percent versus 2019, with the fashion segment growing the fastest.

Cakmak said that, according to a study obtained from Euromonitor, the size of the KSA apparel and footwear market is expected to rise from 59 billion SAR ($15.7 billion) in 2021 to 63 billion SAR ($16.8 billion) in 2022. 

Saudi women make up more than one third of the national labor force — contributing to a higher spend for luxury goods. Today, there are 300,000 people employed in the fashion value chain in KSA, the Fashion Commission estimated.

Saudi designers and brands are primarily based in Riyadh, Mecca, Jeddah and the eastern cities of Dammam and Khobar. Artisans are spread throughout all regions of the country, including key centers for crafts such as Jazan, Asir, Qassim and Tabuk.“We are planning programs for next year to connect artisans with local and international brands in the near future,” Cakmak adds.

Initiatives like these are part of the government’s larger plan dubbed Vision 2030, which is meant to diversify the oil-dependent nation’s economy and nurture new industries. Since the first fashion week in Saudi Arabia’s history took place in 2018 in Riyadh, important strides have been taken to boost the nation’s fashion arena, which aims to rival that of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 

Harper’s Bazaar Saudi Edition was launched in March 2021 and is the only fashion magazine to date allowed to be published in the KSA.

The print magazine is published quarterly in Saudi Arabia by ITP Media Saudi and celebrates the talent, heritage and culture of the kingdom, while opening a new chapter for the luxury fashion and creative industries.

“The government of Saudi Arabia is pulling out all the stops to highlight the amazing talents in the Saudi Kingdom. The craftsmanship is impressive and now the whole world has a chance to discover it, thanks to initiatives like the one in New York and now in Milan,” said Harper’s Bazaar Arabia’s deputy editor Jessica Michault, who will preside over the Saudi Expo this week in Milan at the city’s Magna Pars hotel.

Burak Camak, CEO of Saudi Fashion Commission

Courtesy image

Saudi designer Yousef Akbar is also headed to Milan, to take advantage of the potential for personal retail collections with a “bigger impact.” Based in Sydney and with key clients in the U.K., U.S., Australia and the Gulf countries, Akbar once produced his line in Italy though now has partners in Australia.

“The infrastructure in Saudi Arabia doesn’t exist at the level of what we need at the moment. But I do hope one day to produce in Saudi, of course, and I know the Saudi government and the fashion commission are working on that,” Akbar commented.

The Saudi 100 Brands exhibition, which debuted in Riyadh late last year, is divided into eight different categories: ready-to-wear, modest, concept, premiere, demi-couture, bridal, handbags and jewelry.

Selected from a field of 1,400, each designer was challenged to create pieces that reflect Saudi heritage and culture, which industry watchers say is rapidly changing. According to the country’s General Authority for Statistics, efforts are starting to bear fruit. The labor force participation rate of the total female working age population increased during the first quarter of 2021 to reach 33.6 percent, compared to 32.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020. 

Cakmak said the commission has also been working hard to introduce professional development programs and review regulations that will support the growth of the sector, assessing the local ecosystem to offer better supply chain solutions to bolster the development of local products and studios. The commission has already earmarked full scholarship funding to local design hopefuls that have been accepted to top design schools such as Central Saint Martins and Parsons School of Design. “We have also launched our female mentorship program ‘Elevate’ to provide leadership mentoring for future Saudi female leaders. Our mentors include industry experts such as Marigay McKee, Valerie Hermann, Glenda Bailey and Frederic Fekkai, among others,” he added.

The Fashion Commission also recently revealed a partnership with Kaust to explore development of a new research center focused on material innovation with the potential to fuel sustainable initiatives.

Heavily focused on evolving the fashion week experience and showcasing environmental solutions, White’s new experiential model is aimed at supporting the Italian fashion sector through collaborations with other global key players. Having just celebrated 20 years since its inception, the trade show operator recently streamlined its event by hosting only two fairs a year (versus the previous four), happening concurrently with women’s fashion weeks in February and September.

White Milano organizers said this season they have tapped Joor, the digital wholesale platform, to digitalize the Milanese event, which will unfurl in the Tortona Design District. By scanning a QR code corresponding to the selected brand, buyers will access the designer’s customized profile, line sheets, and will be able to interact with the collections and buy, from anywhere in the world. The event will feature eight categories: concept, evening, ready-to-wear, casual, resort, bags, menswear and jewelry. 

“As we are well aware of our firms’ need to explore new marketplaces, White consolidates its energetic and tangible dedication to take the format to the top international marketplaces” Massimiliano Bizzi, president and founder of White, said in a statement.

After White, Saudi Arabia’s fashion commission will turn its focus to the Fashion Futures summit, which will take place in Riyadh in late November, Cakmak added. The event will include talks, courses for Saudi creatives and retail activations with industry partners.

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