After last season saw the four major fashion weeks – New York, London, Paris and Milan – return with a blockbuster roster of post-pandemic physical shows, anticipation for AW23 is high.
Over last few weeks, fashion houses have been pulling out all the stops in search of viral visibility – think Louis Vuitton’s enormous Yayoi Kusama installations in London and Paris, and Loewe’s inflatable ode to Howl’s Moving Castle – signalling that no expense will be spared when it comes to show-stopping sets this season.
But, beyond the spectacle, AW23 also promises plenty of excitement for those who just really love clothes. From first glimpses at debut collections by high-profile new creative directors, to up-and-comers about to hit the big time, here are the shows you need to know about and the industry gossip everyone will be talking about.
New York Fashion Week, 10-15 February
AW23 will see 74 shows and presentations take place during New York Fashion Week but, when the CFDA released the preliminary line-up in early February, it’s fair to say reception was, well, a little flat. While some big hitters remain – Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera, Gabrielle Hearst and Thom Browne among them – the schedule is overwhelmingly full of emerging designers.
This is in stark contrast to SS23, when New York lured European designers Marni and Fendi across the pond, while also hosting shows by Tommy Hilfiger and Tom Ford. The latter relinquished chairmanship of the CFDA to Thom Browne in late 2022 and has opted out of the show season entirely for AW23.
We’re not saying New York as a fashion capital is dead (yet): Marc Jacobs showed his AW23 collection at Park Avenue Armory earlier this month and Alexander Wang chose the city for his first show since 2019, after becoming mired in sexual misconduct allegations. However, the rise of newcomers to the NYFW schedule is part of a long-swirling conversation about the American fashion scene’s demise on an international stage. There is, of course, nothing wrong with giving the spotlight to fresh faces but this, traditionally, has been London’s area of expertise.
That said, there are some exciting debuts to look out for. Industry insiders expect big things from Red Dot and CFDA-award-winner Kate Barton, while Heston Preston will be making his NYFW debut after originally showing in Paris, promising a collaboration with 3D-printing footwear company, Zellerfeld.
London Fashion Week, 17-21 February
At the other end of the scale, AW23 looks to be a seriously exciting season for London Fashion Week. The schedule is bursting with homegrown talents who have built international brands, including Roksanda, Christopher Kane, Simone Rocha, Molly Goddard, Erdem and JW Anderson, each of which is hoping to make a big impact after the death of Queen Elizabeth II cast a shadow over LFW SS23.
The hottest ticket in town, however, will undoubtedly be Burberry. This season will see new creative director Daniel Lee, who made his name turning Bottega Veneta into the brand to be seen in, reveal his first collection for the storied British fashion house. In advance of the show, Burberry unveiled a new Lee-approved logo: a detailed affair featuring the Burberry Prorsum horse and knight that is a stark departure from the minimalist branding trend that's taken over the fashion industry in recent years. Does it signal a return to the house's roots? Find out on 20 February.
Elsewhere, Moncler will be bringing its successful Genius concept to the capital with an immersive presentation, and the city’s two main fashion schools - Central Saint Martins and London College of Fashion - will be showcasing London's best and brightest new talents in two group shows.
Milan Fashion Week, 21-27 February
As usual, there’s no shortage of big hitters showing in Milan this season. Versace, Hugo Boss and Marni may be eschewing the schedule for AW23 but Prada, Fendi, Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Max Mara and more will still be battling it out for the world’s digital eyeballs. And, with famously attention-grabbing labels such as Moschino in the mix, expect some show-stopping moments.
Among the most newsworthy shows will be Gucci. Following the departure of Alessandro Michele, this season will see its second team effort offering before new creative director Sabato De Sarno takes over for SS24. Ferragamo, meanwhile, will be showing its second collection by British creative director Maximilian Davis, while quieter but no less refined collections are expected from Milan stalwarts Jil Sander, Missoni, Giorgio Armani and Alberta Ferretti.
Paris Fashion Week, 1-7 March
Traditionally attracting the biggest brands, Paris Fashion Week looks to be an interesting one this season. Firstly, of course, there’s Balenciaga, which will be showing its first collection since finding itself under serious criticism (and cancellation) over two ad campaigns deemed to sexualise children and featuring legal documents relating to child pornography. It is no accident of timing that, on 9 February, the brand announced a multi-year partnership with the National Children’s Alliance, promising to train nearly 2,000 child abuse specialists.
Then there’s Vivienne Westwood, whose collection will be presented by the late designer’s husband and collaborator, Andreas Kronthaler, after she passed in late 2022. As a titan of the industry, who has been showing at various fashion weeks for more than three decades, it promises to be a highly emotional, and no doubt visually stunning, affair.
On a lighter note, PFW SS23 will also see British-American fashion darling Harris Reed take the reins at Nina Ricci and Ludovic de Saint Sernin make his debut at Dutch design house Ann Demeulemeester. In an unusual addition to the most classic of the fashion weeks, streetwear label Palm Angels will also be joining the line-up while headline acts including Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Loewe and Valentino will all be in attendance.