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2023 - A Fashion Year in Review

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

McQueen Akris Dior Lanvin

This year, fashion tried to not let Covid set the rules, but with divisive wars and politics and mega-natural disasters filling the headlines, fashion responded by toning down - solid colours, often earthy or jewel toned, and sombre black made a return. If there was any pattern it tended towards the tweedy and tartan, rather than novelty or floral prints.

Although Vuitton got a lot of attention for appointing Pharell Williams as the men’s creative director, most luxury brands just ticked along in the post-pandemic world of guarded spending. Confusing social medias, and conflicting viewpoints on diversity and appropriation impeded progress while we waited for lower inflation rates and secure supply chains before resuming pre-Covid spending habits. Luxury logo fatigue was evidenced by the many luxury brands focussing on anonymous ‘stealth wealth’ practical wearables and casual attire.


Prognostications of uber-casual or uber-glamourous post-Covid fashions didn’t happen. Attempts at the US Senate to go casual were nixed, while flirtations with Barbie pink girlie glamour quickly faded after the film’s release.

Disturbingly, progress made during Covid was backtracking. Fast fashion is quickly recovering while mushroom leather, championed by Stella McCartney, was discontinued by its manufacturer, and Renewell, the largest textile recycling plant in the world, is pausing production for lack of demand.

Fashion backtracked too - to Y2K: Blundstone boots, Crocs, Uggs, and low rise cargos and skirts with crop tops; and even further back to the 80s with broad shoulders, voluminous overcoats, pleat-front trousers and oversized jackets. The 50th anniversary of Hip Hop may have been part of the inspiration with corset waisted hoodies and techy sneakers, and the death of Vivienne Westwood late last year inspired a revival of punky tartans in many collections.

The Corset Hoodie

Gucci Luar McQueen Proenza Schouler

Sombre and broad shouldered 80s revival

It's never safe to declare a look dead because that is when they tend to rise again as fashion zombies, however, it is looking like stiletto-heeled pumps are on the decline, in favour of thicker heels, or alternatively, flat soled sandals. As well, the skinny suit championed by Thom Browne a decade ago may be finally put to rest... the only tight clothing now appears on burly muscle-men who like the look that their buttons might pop off if they flex.

The fashion world lost some greats in 2023: American designer Leo Narducci who began his career in 1960 on Seventh Avenue and received a Coty award in 1965 before launching his own label in 1967; Paris-born Marc Bohan, who became the head designer at Christian Dior from 1960 to 1989; Paco Rabanne , the Spanish futurist who created dresses from metal plaques and chainmail; The quintessentially English Mary Quant who was at the centre of Youthquake fashion in the mid 1960s and is often erroneously credited with inventing the miniskirt, although she can be credited with calling the style “mini”; Jane Birkin, the English muse behind the world’s most luxurious French handbag, - Hermes’ Birkin bag; and just a couple of days ago, Canadian men’s tailor Harry Rosen passed, leaving behind a successful chain of high-end menswear shops across Canada.

Leo Narducci Marc Bohan Paco Rabanne

Mary Quant Jane Birkin Harry Rosen

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