A Fashion Lookback at 2023

2023 was an interesting year with great challenges. In the greater global community, this was a year of Russia assault on Ukraine, continued Israel and Palestinian conflicts, and a year emerging out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the fashion community there were similar shifts, conflicts, and transitions. Some fashion industry professionals transitioned to fashionable Elysian Fields of another dimension, while others exited iconic fashion brands and the transmutational nature of fashion continued in true form.

Fashion Reverie looks back all the comings and goings of 2023:

Goodbye and so long!

Image courtesy of yahoo.com

Paco Rabanne

Paco Rabanne was a fashion visionary who helped transform fashion in the 1960s. His chainmail creations and futuristic A-line minidresses became the go-to fashion for those young consumers that wanted to express their freedom from the restrictive clothes of the 1950s. Think Jane Fonda’s film vehicle, “Barbarella,” which Rabanne designed many of the clothes. Rabanne also made strides in the fragrance industry with his successful 1 Million and Lady Million fragrances. Rabanne was 88 years of age.

Images courtesy of thegrio.com

Gail O’Neill

If you are fascinated by those leggy black models of the 1980s and 1990s, you are very aware of African American model Gail O’Neill. The black glamazon graced the runways of Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Perry Ellis, Marc Jacobs, and Michael Kors. Additionally, O’Neill secured ad campaigns for Coca Cola, Avon, and Revlon. O’Neill was known for her stance against smoking and would not appear in ad campaigns that promoted cigarettes or for companies that would not divest investments from South Africa. Gail O’Neill passed away from a terminal illness at the age of 61.

Image courtesy of thescotsman.com

Mary Quant

When you think about sixties mode style, Mary Quant comes immediately to mind. Referred to as the ‘Mother of the Miniskirt,’ Quant is synonymous with Twiggy’s 60’s style and that ‘Georgy Girl’ style of the sixties. Think of those Peter Pan minidresses in bold prints. Quant was ninety-three when she transitioned.

Image courtesy of vanityfair.com

Jane Birkin

We’ve all heard of Hermes‘ Birkin bag. Well, who do you think the Birkin bag was inspired by? Jane Birkin was a French film star and style icon of the 1960s. Complaining that she could not find a bag that met her needs, while seated next to Jean-Louis Dumas on a plane, Dumas sketched a design of bag that met Jane Birkin’s needs, and voila the Birkin bag was borne.

Image courtesy julio donoso/Sygma via Getty Images

Marc Bohan

Though some consumers may not be familiar with Bohan, he helmed Dior for over 30 years, replacing Yves Saint Laurent after Laurent departed from Dior. Paying close attention to pop culture influences of the 1960s and 70s, Bohan helped usher the House of Dior into a luxury brand the young consumers could embrace.

Fashion trends of 2023

Image courtesy of instyle.com

Plus-size no more, or almost

One of the biggest fashion trends of the 2023 fashion season is the lack of plus-size models on the runway or in fashion campaigns. For over a decade there has been a concerted effort to have fashion brands include a diversity of sizes in their runway collections and campaigns. And it appears that change is afoot. In fact, some top plus-size models in the last decade became supermodels, namely Precious Lee and Ashley Graham.

In 2023, the change that we all supported and hoped for seems to have evaporated. According to an article in The Cut, “an analysis of 9,137 looks across 219 shows in New York, London, Milan, and Paris during the recent fashion weeks, only 17 brands included at least one plus-size (U.S. size 14-plus) look. That means that 95.6 percent of looks were worn by models in U.S. sizes zero to four. And just 3.8 percent were worn by midsize models (sizes six to 12).”

What has replaced sized models are very tall models, from 5`11 and up, with curvy bodies—models from a size six to a size 12. There was also a drastic reduction in trans models in campaigns and runways for 2023.

Images courtesy of jameslanepost.com, worldbridalmagazine.com, and newsbreakoriginal,com, respectively

African designers proliferate in the US

Another big fashion trend of note is the inclusion and expansion of African designers onto the US ready-to-wear and bridal platforms. Fashion designers from the Motherland for several decades have been a part of the fashion pantheon. However, there was not the plethora of African designers that we are now seeing, particularly in the bridal market.

Nardos Imam , Ese Azenabor, Daniel Mofor, and Rami Al Ali, are a few African fashion designers that have made inroads into the New York Fashion market in 2023. Nardos, Mofor, and Azenabor have even opened boutiques in New York City. And when presenting their collections they choose the most elite venues for their collections, namely the Grand Ballroom at the New York Plaza Hotel, and The Regency Hotel.

Changes and Migrations

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John Varvatos

Every year there are job migrations and changes in the fashion industry. As Heidi Klum would always so on “Project Runway,” “One day you are end, and the next day, you are out.”

Noted American menswear designer John Varvatos has been appointed as the new creative director of Under Armour. Varvatos has an incredible resume of accomplishments in the fashion industry. He has manned his eponymous brand for almost three decades, as well as having worked for Calvin Klein, Converse, and Polo Ralph Lauren.

Under Armour is betting that Varvatos can bring a fresh approach to the brand with retail sales waning in the past few years. In the past recent quarter. Revenue fell 2.4% to $1.32 billion.

Image courtesy of people.com

Jenna Lyons

Who would have believed the Jenna Lyons, once the creative director of J. Crew, would join the cast of Real Housewives of New York City (RHONY). Lyons admitted in a Page Six interview that after leaving J. Crew, her phone was not ringing with fashion offers. “And then all of the sudden I didn’t have anything on my agenda, and no one was calling, and no one was getting me lunch, and no one was inviting me anywhere, and I was like, ‘Whoa,’” she told Page Six. “Now I can look back and say… I was really struggling. I was just exhausted.”

Lyons admitted on the “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” about being cast on “RHONY,” “[It’s] not the most, like, natural career change, I know.”

Image courtesy of nytimes.com

Edward Enninful

Lots of folks were excited when Edward Enninful took over the helm of British Vogue, especially people of color. As the first black to serve as editor-in-chief at a British fashion magazine, Enninful had many accomplishments since taking over British Vogue in 2017.

As a high-profile advocate of diversity and inclusion, Enniful put first mixed-race model on the cover of British Vogue. He also allowed the first man, Timothée Chalamet, to grace the cover of British Vogue in 2022, and he also placed the first climate activist, Greta Thunberg, on the cover.

Enninful will stay within the Conde Nast family, assuming the position of Vogue‘s global creative and cultural advisor. He will continue as association with British Vogue as an editorial advisor.

Image courtesy of culted.com

Peter Do

In 2023 the elusive Peter Do was named creative director of Helmut Lang. Peter Do will remain at his eponymous brand while assuming his post at Helmut Lang.

“Last year, when I was thinking about the next move in my career, one thing remained consistent even when everything else felt uncertain. I needed to continue doing my part in helping the city I love most regain its stature as the center of gravity for everyone who cares about radical thinking in fashion,” he wrote, as reported in dailyfrontrow.com.

Image courtesy of fashionista.com

Tom Ford

After Tom Ford’s eponymous fashion brand was acquired by Estee Lauder for 2.3 billion dollars, it was questioned if Ford would stay on as creative director. Well, Ford did step down with his post assumed over by Tom Ford senior vice president Peter Hawkings.

“Since the creation of Tom Ford menswear, Peter has been instrumental in the success of the brand. He is an incredibly talented leader with tremendous industry experience, and his appointment gives me confidence that my commitment to creating fashion products with the highest level of design and quality will continue,” explained Tom Ford.

Image courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Martha Stewart

Speak, about 2023 as a year of change? Who would believe an octogenarian would grace the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimwear edition? Martha Stewart to the rescue.

“When I heard that I was going to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated [Swimwear], I thought, ‘Oh, that’s pretty good, I’m going to be the oldest person I think ever on a cover of Sports Illustrated,’” said the 81-year- old Stewart, adding, “And I don’t think about age very much, but I thought that this is kind of historic.”

Martha posed for the 2023 swimsuit issue in the Dominican Republic. The issue showcases Stewart in a total of ten looks.

—William S. Gooch








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