Let’s say it now, there’s not a lot of newness around at the mo. The world’s in flux, designers are scared for their jobs, no one’s taking risks and the big brands especially just wanna sell. Who can blame them? BOF’s Angelo Flaccavento was maybe a bit harsh with his ‘clothes to die from not for’ (lol) summing up of MFW SS23, but he had a point. It’s a commercial season, so let’s just get that out of the way. Honestly, I’m not sad about the black-everything revival, I can’t complain about the loafer love-fest and as a New Luddite, it’s great to see women’s watches in the spotlight. Read on for my round-up of what I’ll be wearing and doing this season…
1/ BACK TO BLACK. While the dopamine dressing of post-Covid revenge shopping was all about colour and fabulosity, it seems a few factors have conspired resulting in a somewhat desaturated counter-trend. Black is back according to Net-a-Porter, with Dries van Noten and Versace populating their collections with over half of all-black looks and online customer searches for ‘black’ increasing by 30% during SS23 Fashion Month. Global political doom and the COL crisis are easy to blame, but I prefer to point to a nostalgia for late-80s fashion editors in their monochrome Alaïa, Comme and Donna Karan get-ups. Keep silhouettes similarly architectural and offset the dystopia with a chunky gold chain*, cuff*, ring, watch or sculptural earrings*.
2/ MADE YOU BLUSH. Alternatively, there’s an influx of romantic blush tones – a close relative of beige but a whole lot more joyful. Blush denim* (below), chinos* (below), Harrington jackets* (very Miu Miu), socks* and shirts* are all easy to wear and play nicely with similarly light tones of grey, pale denim, white and cream. (Add a coat of Chanel Watermelon nail polish* for a brighter boost.)
3/ STREET STYLE. Proof that exhibitionist fashion is taking a back seat this season, my favourite ad campaigns and look books celebrate the beauty of the everyday. The Row shot their models on the streets of Paris, Lemaire’s show featured models posing like (extremely chic) regular people while overdressed editors looked on, and you know what I thought of the Bottega ad campaign. That said, those who are dressing up are doing it for brunch – according to Elle restaurants are the new runway. Baguette bags at the ready!
4/ TECH-NO. Have we reached peak app? I’m seeing a lot of stuff out there about Gen Z digital push-back and my poor screen-fatigued eyes and information overloaded brain have sympathy. There’s an emerging renegade subculture of teens who eschew smart phones and limit social media, while comments on this article say that you can’t do anything in the States without apps or 2fa – i.e. entering the premises of the business you work for, ordering from menus etc. In France on the other hand, phones aren’t even allowed in the classroom. There’s also been a rediscovery of the unhurried medium of physical books and the joy of libraries. And in New York, while Mayor Eric Adams is cutting down on library budgets, one new building has the visual aesthetic of an Hermès store interior (below).
5/ OFFICINE GÉNÉRALE. New on my radar: Officine Générale womenswear. The French mainly-menswear brand has upped its womenswear offer to include gentlewoman style coats, blazers, trousers and shorts. It helps that founder Pierre Mahéo is a trained tailor and knows how to cut a decent shoulder. I love the vibe of this mac (below).
6/ GLOW-UP FOR GUYS. Men’s make-up has had quite a few false starts but it looks like we’re getting closer to guys accepting the odd cosmetic enhancement. ‘Enhance’ seems to be the key word this go-around. We’ve seen lots of full-on lewks from TikTokers and brands like Valentino Beauty aiming to reach expressive Gen Zs , but the enhancer crowd are pitching invisible concealers, skin boosters and glow-givers rather than lashes-n-nails. Chanel had a head start a few years ago with Boy de Chanel but doesn’t seem to have pushed it much further than a concealer and eyeliner. I’m keeping an eye out for Peter Dundas’s new unisex Dundas Enhancers (below) created with Anastasia Beverly Hills, which launches imminently. Looks promising.
7/ LOAFERS LOVE-FEST. Loafers for spring? Hardly ground-breaking but there are a lot more loafers around at the moment, so if you’re a fan, make the most of it. (Per BOF recently, “sneakerheads have moved on or grown up and now people care about limited-edition loafers more than they do what sneakers are dropping this week”.) As you know, I am a fan. For spring I love Porte & Paire’s croc-stamped leather loafers*, Jil Sander’s blonde metal heel-caps* and Hereu’s cream woven Sineus*.
8/ THE BEAUTY PLAYGROUND RETURNS. The beauty playground is officially back – Gen Z demands it. That’s the message we’re getting from the new beauty retail openings. Glossier recently opened its new SoHo flagship with a big bang – putting fun and novelty front and centre with a merch store, funfair-style claw machines and selfie opportunities at every turn (below). Jones Road also opened its first store earlier this month, a hands-on, touch-and-try destination with cross-generational appeal. And Sephora finally opened in London’s Westfield White City. No I haven’t been yet – waiting for the swarms to subside – but suffice to say it’s created with discovery and excitement in mind. Play, experience and buzzy brands are at the heart of the Sephora retail strategy. As a customer, I expect a surprise each time I visit a physical store, a compulsion to buy there and then rather than wait to buy online. The bricks-and-mortar beauty retail renaissance has begun.
9/ READING LIST. The big one I’m looking forward to is the publication of Glossy: Ambition, Beauty, and the Inside Story of Emily Weiss’s Glossier* by Marisa Meltzer (below, currently slated for early autumn). Ugly by Anita Bhagwandas (recently launched – buy it here*) also looks like a cracking read, while I can 100% vouch for I thought I Heard You Speak* by Audrey Golden (below), an immersive oral history of Factory records from the perspective of the women whose contributions were often overlooked (published in May). For the fashion scholar, the definitive J. Crew history book has just dropped. Maggie Bullock’s The Kingdom of Prep: The Inside Story of the Rise and (Near) Fall of J. Crew* journeys from its 1983 beginnings through highs and lows charting America’s fashion and social history along the way.
10/ WRIST CANDY. The spotlight on women’s watches is growing. Latest is a new website run by former Watchonista exec Jessica Owens. The Daily Grail is an online ‘newspaper’ documenting trends, watch collectors and happenings aimed squarely at the underserved female watch community (below). Meanwhile, mini watch exhibitions are all the rage. If you’re quick you can just catch the Omega ‘Her Time’ townhouse take-over in Mayfair, showcasing its archive of women’s designs from Andrew Grima’s influential 70s pieces to decadent secret watches. (Until 29th March.)
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WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Jil Sander SS23/ WWD; Jil Sander SS23; 80s Alaïa: The Row SS23; Jil Sander SS23; Dries van Noten SS23; Jil Sander SS23; J. Crew SS23 x 2; The Row SS23; Adams Street Library/Justin Kaneps / New York Times; Officine Générale x 3; Dundas Enhancers;; Francoise Hardy; Glossier x 3; Glossy; I Thought I Heard You Speak; The Daily Grail/ @clairerose
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links* and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here
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