Looking Back at the Biggest Fashion Moments of 2023

From Beyoncé’s ‘RENAISSANCE’ world tour to Pharrell’s Louis Vuitton debut, this year was filled with big moments for fashion’s history books.

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This year served as a host to a plethora of invigorating fashion moments, and no place was off limits. Whether it be a couture fashion show, a highly successful world tour or bewildering thefts, fashion continuously found its way into every corner of contemporary culture this year.

The runway expectedly produced a number of fashion moments — between a jewel-covered Doja Cat at Schiaparelli and a showcase honoring the legacy of Vivienne Westwood, one of the 20th and 21st centuries’ most celebrated designers, global fashion weeks were a seasoned provocateur. Aside from the shows, Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE World Tour rivaled the catwalk as her stage served up an arsenal of custom looks that tapped the world’s greatest houses and designers.

Some of those designers had highlight years in their own rights, ranging from Pharrell Williams’ highly-anticipated debut at Louis Vuitton and Daniel Lee’s entrance at Burberry to Jacquemus’ gripping, innovative campaigns. Regardless of the place, time or event, fashion in 2023 had fun with its showcase of expected and unexpected highlights. Below, Hypebeast has rounded up some of this year’s top contenders.

Vivienne Westwood’s Final Collection

The fashion world suffered a tremendous loss when Vivienne Westwood passed away at the end of 2022. Since then the world has remembered and celebrated her tremendous legacy with a passion-filled career that spanned over five decades. Following her passing, the designer’s house revealed its Fall/Winter 2023 collection in March of this year, which also served as Westwood’s final collection.

Under the direction of Andreas Kronthaler, Westwood’s husband and design partner, the collection celebrated the house the British designer built. What came down the runway was an homage to Westwood and her anti-establishment persona – fueled by punk and new romantic styles. The collection saw elements of checkers miniskirts, graphic tights, mismatched patterns, remixed suiting, signature corsetry and more. Even with Dame Vivienne Westwood’s physical absence, her essence was felt through each look alongside members of her family who were united throughout the crowd.

Doja Cat in Schiaparelli

Kicking the year off in a high-fashion way (literally), Doja Cat attended Schiaparelli’s Spring 2023 Haute Couture show during Paris Fashion Week this past January covered in ruby red Swarovski crystals – 30,000 to be exact.

Virtually every part of Doja Cat’s body was adorned in crystals from her head to her toes. Led by renowned makeup artist and businesswoman Pat McGrath and her team, it took four hours and 58 minutes to complete the hand-applied look.

Doja Cat’s monochromatic red look was complete with an equally eye-catching dress comprised of a sleek bodice and a spherical textured skirt potion, which was complemented by red feet boots and an elongated red silk shawl scarf that kissed the floor. To match the show’s theme, the epic poem in Dante’s Inferno inspired the star’s look.

Daniel Lee’s Burberry Debut

Daniel Lee’s first Burberry collection was one of the most-anticipated debuts of this year. The designer, who had departed from Bottega Veneta in 2021, had already successfully revived the latter label — and this year, he was challenged with doing the same for the legacy British fashion house, which was in need of a lift after Riccardo Tisci’s tenure at its helm.

Lee’s debut offered a solid first throw at reviving a brand that had, for years, relied on its same signatures for sales, earning the disinterest of many fashion fans. It was time for a shake-up, and given his magical transformation at Bottege Veneta, Lee was the right man for the job.

Notable onlookers at the February show included the likes of Edward Enninful, Naomi Campbell, Future, Grace Wales Bonner, Skepta, Shygirl, Stormzy, Martine Rose and Honey Dijon, among many others. The event was eagerly anticipated and heavily attended — and Lee’s artful take on the Burberry archives successfully marked a new era for the imprint.

He began by reviving the Burberry Prorsum, an iconographic take on the Burberry Equestrian Knight logo from 1909 by Christopher Bailey, and making it modern. The old-time motif became the centerpiece on a bounty of pieces, and it matched the historical aura of the brand’s timeless checks. Notably, the collection also included a heavy emphasis on roses in a kaleidoscope of colors, while feathers and faux fur pushed the opulence up a notch. Colors and textures were plentiful, like they hadn’t been before in a Burberry collection. Overall, it was Lee’s newness that re-excited fashionphiles about the House.

The Tabi Swiper

Like most modern-day tales, the “Tabi Swiper” took the world by storm in a viral TikTok. Alexis Dougé, a bonafide NYC fashion girl who had gathered a following for sharing content of her Maison Margiela Tabis and crochet clothing, became victim to a devastating Tinder date-turned-theft in early September. She took to the video-sharing app to warn New York City singles to “beware” of a man named Joshua, who had swiped her prized-possession — her Mary Jane Tabis — while hanging out at her apartment.

In the video, which has since earned more than 1.6 million views, Dougé explains that she had “locked eyes” with a “cute guy” on the street, and he later messaged her on Tinder, as they had previously matched on the dating app. After a successful first and second date, Dougé invited Joshua over to her apartment, and during their rendezvous, he shared his interest in owning a pair of the popular split-toe Tabis. Things went well, but hours after he left, Dougé noticed that her Mary Janes were no longer in their usual place and that Joshua had unmatched her on Tinder. “​​Oh no. This b**** stole my f***ing shoes,” she realized.

She later learned that Joshua had stealthily removed his number from her phone, so the only option she was left with was to post a TikTok. Fortunately, the app did its thing, and fellow users were able to locate Joshua’s Instagram, and she was able to get in contact with him again. The plot thickened when Dougé learned that Joshua had gifted her Tabis to his secret girlfriend, and he ultimately admitted to his wrongdoings. The two arranged a meet up later that week, and Dougé’s Tabis were returned to their rightful owner.

Moral of the story: hide your Tabis when you invite a Tinder date over.

Pharrell’s Louis Vuitton Debut

On June 20, Pharrell Williams took a celebratory march down Paris’ Pont Neuf Bridge, bowing to a highly-influential crowd after making his debut at the helm of Louis Vuitton Men’s with a 74-look Spring/Summer 2024 collection.

The spectacle, which drew an ultra-famous audience that included Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, Lewis Hamilton, J Balvin and Zendaya, among many others, and included a post-show performance from Pharrell and JAY-Z, saw fashion and celebrity converge in such a way that felt new to the industry. In fact, the show broke the brand’s records by earning 775 million views on its owned platforms and an additional 300 million views on press accounts. (For reference, LV’s Fall 2023 show generated 441 million views on the House’s owned platforms.)

In November, Pharrell’s Louis Vuitton touched down on Hong Kong’s Avenue of Stars, where the House’s Pre-Fall 2024 collection met the world for the first time. ”It was inspired by the idea of a businessman in Hong Kong who has decided to spend a week or so in Hawaii on holiday,” Pharrell told Hypebeast of the collection’s inspiration. “But in the middle of his trip, he has to go back to Hong Kong for one day for a meeting he couldn’t move.”

Pharrell’s third collection for Louis Vuitton is scheduled to debut during Paris Fashion Week Men’s this January — and it’s abundantly safe to assume that it’ll become one of the most-talked-about moments of the fashion fair.

Oliver Rousteing’s Stolen Designs

In an unexpected turn of events, over 50 Balmain pieces were stolen ahead of the brand’s Paris Fashion Week show this past September due to a delivery truck hijacking.

“This morning I woke up with the smile, starting the fittings for my next show at 9 a.m. and this is what happened…50 Balmain pieces stolen. Our delivery was hijacked,” wrote Balmain’s creative director, Olivier Rousteing on Instagram. “So many people worked so hard to make this collection happen. We are redoing everything but this is so so disrespectful. We will work more, days and nights… Love you my Balmain team and we won’t give up.”

To resolve the issue, the creative director and his team committed to re-making the wardrobe of stolen garments. As such, the show still occurred on its scheduled date of September 27 during Paris Fashion Week.

Phoebe Philo’s Return

Almost six years after exiting Celine, where she famously held the fashion world in a chokehold with her distinctive design codes, Phoebe Philo made a hotly anticipated return to the industry this October, with the first delivery under her namesake label. Arguably the most-anticipated fashion line of this year, the 150-piece-strong range offered a thrilling, matured evolution of the designer’s confident, highly-celebrated vision — one we had not witnessed in real-time since she dipped out of the scene in 2017.

The brand operates differently to a typical fashion house: instead of putting out “collections,” Philo prefers the term “edit.” The debut line, titled A1, was broken up into a number of releases throughout this year, and the following edit, labeled A2, is set to come in the spring of next year. And where the designer opts for a subversive approach to her release strategy, her silhouettes adopt a similarly disruptive personality with their confident tailoring.

In A1’s first output, the color story was rather reserved, rarely straying from tones of black, white, olive and oxblood; prints, too, were excluded from the conversation entirely. But unlike the laws of the tired “quiet luxury” trope, Philo’s latest cuts steered toward the bold through their voluminous structures, edgy shapes and punkish finishes.

With her eponymous line, Philo’s goal is “to create a product that reflects permanence.” She’s already done this at Celine, as seen by the countless fans who still rock their “Old Celine” garments from the designer’s era at the House. Now, it’s about finding the newness in her much-adored work.

Jonathan Anderson’s Animals

Jonathan Anderson was named this year’s British Designer of the Year for a reason: he knows how to simultaneously capture the cultural zeitgeist with inventive concepts and consistently prioritize masterful craftsmanship. Among his most buzzy accessories this year, there were a number of animal-inspired designs, in particular, that many social media users could not stop chattering about: the LOEWE Penguin Bag and JW Anderson’s Frog Clutch and Wellipets.

For his namesake brand, Anderson’s Fall/Winter 2023 runway featured a friendly-looking, life-like frog bag tucked under models’ arms. The accessory, which was a follow-up to the label’s popular FW22 Pigeon Clutch Bag, featured bright yellow eyes and a realistic green body. From afar, it wouldn’t have been shocking if the bag had hopped and skipped down the runway, with a true-to-life “ribbit.” Complementing the frog clutch, Anderson also revealed a collaboration with heritage rainboots brand Wellipets, which included a signature frog-faced toe section.

Meanwhile, at LOEWE, Anderson’s newly-released Penguin Bag takes after the real-life shape of the marine animal. Made from classic calfskin, the design features shades of black, and white and striking orange, and the penguin’s body offers ample storage room for those on the go.

Evidently, it won’t be long until there’s an entire zoo of Jonathan Anderson’s designs.

Jacquemus’ Campaigns

Aside from style, this year Jacquemus taught the fashion world a lesson in marketing. In a landscape where brands are constantly figuring out new ways to both engage their customers and highlight their products through campaigns, Jacquemus accomplished the goal in a way that keeps the future in mind.

It all started in March when Jacquemus posted a digital video on Instagram of a giant washing machine storefront turning a load of orange Le Chiquito handbags before spilling them out onto the sidewalk. But what really captured the fashion world’s attention was its digital video of bus-sized leather Bambino bags on wheels cruising the streets of Paris. With the usage of 3D-rendered visuals, Jacquemus managed to bring new vibrancy to campaigns in a time that’s constantly looking at the evolution of digital technology.

But Jacquemus’ campaign/marketing affinity was not limited to the digital as it retained its grip of beautifully crafted real visuals across the beaches of Rio de Janiero for SS23 and even a Holiday 2023 campaign that brought skiing indoors.

Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE World Tour

It’s no secret that Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE World Tour was one of the most successful and popular music tours of not just the year but in history – grossing nearly $580 million USD with 56 shows. But aside from the music and production spectacle that was the tour, which is also now showing in theaters, Beyonce’s latest solo world tour served as a fashion marvel with over 600 custom high-fashion looks.

For the tour, Beyoncé and her team, which included the likes of stylist/costume designer Shiona Turini, obviously pulled in some of the biggest names in fashion spanning luxury fashion houses and visionary designers. To paint a picture, the tour wardrobe included the likes of Balenciaga, Balmain, Telfar, Loewe, Ferragamo by Maximillian Davis, Mugler, Alexander McQueen, Gucci, PatBo, Pucci, Diesel, Marc Jacobs, Iris van Herpen, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Gaurav Gupta, Mary Katantzou and more. There are simply too many to name and even though the tour wardrobe enlisted countless names, every look didn’t even make it to the stage.

Although the highlight list is lengthy, special moments include the Mugler bee-inspired chrome degradé bustier with matching leggings and an eye-catching headpiece designed by Casey Cadwallader, a custom evolved photochromic fabric robe and headpiece by Anrealage, a colorful Pucci bodysuit with a matching cap and body chain designed by Camille Miceli and Shiona Turini, the lineup of shimmery silver sequin and crystal bodysuits and capes by Gucci and a custom Balenciaga couture featuring over 8,000 embroidered crystals, which opened the final show in Kansas City, Missouri.

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