Kirstie Clements: 2023’s highs, lows and way-out weirdness

2023 brought us plenty that was great – and some ideas that were just plain odd.

2023 brought us plenty that was great – and some ideas that were just plain odd. Photo: TND

It was hard to get 15 minutes of fame in the crowded world of fashion in 2023, or at least a few seconds of someone’s attention on TikTok or Instagram.

For many designers, presenting a WTF moment in hopes that it goes viral is what gains publicity for the house – which is why many of us are left pondering what’s actually going on back there in the atelier.

Rabbits out of hats

1. Schiaparelli’s stuffed animal heads

Designer Daniel Roseberry got Paris Couture Week off to a contentious start when he sent out dresses adorned with large, and very realistic representation of animal heads, inspired by Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy (in the tale, Dante encounters three beasts – a leopard, a lion and a she-wolf while climbing the holy mountain).

The allusion was lost on internet fashion followers, who picked up the pitchfork and accused him of promoting big-game hunting, proving once again you should never overestimate the audience’s intelligence.

2. Million-dollar baby

Musician and producer Pharrell Williams became the creative director of Louis Vuitton menswear, much to the chagrin of any aspiring student who struggled to put themselves through fashion college.

His big statement so far has been the Louis Vuitton Millionaire Speedy bag. It is available on a made-to-order basis in five bright colour options in crocodile, adorned with gold and diamonds, with a price tag of US$1million ($1.48 million). A tone-deaf gimmick that shows you can go from cool to obtuse in a nanosecond.

3. Towel dry

Reaching a new high (or low) in irony, Balenciaga released a drab grey towel skirt for men, designed to be worn with a hoodie, over track pants, for AU$1250. Ikea quickly picked up the buzz, producing a hilarious ad displaying and styling its own towel for a more reasonable €16 ($26).


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Things that came back, with a vengeance

1. Skinny models

The weight-loss wonder drug Ozempic has taken the world by storm, and the quest to be a size 0 was reflected on the runways with models being skinnier than ever.

The fashion world had been making noises about inclusivity but that seems to have largely disappeared as thin, once again, is in.

2. The allure of fast fashion

After overseas customers complained of late deliveries, Georgia Contos, director and founder of Australian fast fashion giant White Fox Boutique, told the Daily Mail this week that her team was “currently dispatching over 20,000-25,000 orders per day”. Mind boggling.

3. Barbie overload

We couldn’t escape it even if we wanted to. The Barbie movie and its seemingly unlimited marketing budget dominated fashion, with hot pink versions of simply everything from Crocs to pant suits, and the inevitable “it’s a Barbie World!” headlining almost every fashion story for months. It was enough to make me wear all black

Lights in the tunnel

There were many, many moments of true beauty on the spring/summer 2024 runways this year, including the farewell show by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, Kim Jones’ gorgeous show for Fendi, continued and considered elegance at Loewe, Prada, Dries Van Noten and Bottega Veneta, and the much-awaited eponymous collection for Phoebe Philo, which launched online and sold out within minutes.

In summation, my favourite item this season was a fantastic black purse at Prada, styled after a bag created by Miuccia Prada’s grandfather, Mario, in 1913.

The 2024 version is adorned with a hand-carved fastening of a mythical head, an angry man poking his tongue out at the world. My sentiments exactly.

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