Optimism, energy and a celebratory spirit filled New York Fashion Week, which had enough strong collections, celebrity turnout in the front rows, and variety of show venues to keep buyers racing around town — and by the end of it all sensing that the city and its fashion industry are practically, if not entirely, back in full swing.
Buyers concluded the week exhausted, as always is the case after each fashion week. But this time around they came away inspired by the prevailing trends toward inclusivity, sexy and glamorous skin-revealing looks, and the overall movement toward dressing up again.
Among other trends highlighted: Pants are back, with big volume styles all over the runways; bright colors — from stoplight red to lime green — dominated; craft and artisanal touches were key, such as crochet or hand knits, and, above all, individuality ruled, with designers offering options for women to make an outfit their own.
WWD asked several merchants and fashion executives from leading retailers and websites to cite what they thought were the best collections on the runways for spring 2023, and to sum up the most important trends and overall mood of the season. Here’s what they had to say:
Arielle Siboni, women’s ready-to-wear fashion director, Bloomingdale’s
Standout collections: NYFW started off with strong collections by Monse and Proenza Schouler. Other highlights were definitely Jason Wu, as well as Catherine Holstein’s mix of tailoring, fringes, the cool girl snakeskins and leathers seen at Khaite, Jonathan Simkhai’s cargos and crochets, and the way he uses natural elements, and definitely Fe Noel with her fairytale vision that finds new narratives, season after season in her collections.
Key trends: Utility dressing was a prominent trend featured throughout many shows this week with cargos, trenches and skirts being the key silhouettes. We are still seeing shine in a lot of collections; metallics have been popular in accessories, and sequins are continuing and are graduating into paillettes.
There were also a lot of highlighter hues, especially lime greens and a variety of ocean blues, which feels fresh. Trousers are a key item for the season and are making belts popular again. The runways also touched upon resort dressing with crochet, fringe, coastal jewelry, and gladiator sandals. Bubble hems, peplums, scallops, and sheer fabrications also added feminine touches to the week.
The mood: The celebratory mood was felt throughout each show and event, and a sense of optimism filled the air. Attendees felt re-energized and excited to celebrate fashion amongst friends and in-person, once again.
What will make people spend: A seismic shift to pants, which will be a key item at Bloomingdale’s for spring ’23. Tailored trousers, cargos, and silk bottoms feel fresh and are great additions to your spring wardrobe.
Linda Fargo, senior vice president, fashion office and store presentation, Bergdorf Goodman
Standout collections: Altuzarra showed a great lifestyle range from soft tailoring to his signature tie-dye beauties. Peter Do continues to sharpen his edges and solidify his gender-free DNA with his extra-cool abstracted tailoring and surprising reveals. Wes Gordon for Carolina Herrera was the most downright beautiful show of the week, with Karlie Kloss leading the way, the models styled to perfection and a nostalgic Barbra Streisand soundtrack. Khaite’s tough beauty. Gabriela Hearst shows us that when craft meets design and thoughtful production, it checks all boxes. Special thanks to Monse for selling the RSVP show process for the good of hunger charity — a first and great idea. Studio 189 was the most authentically joyful and moving show, and Marni was the most transporting and trippy. Tom Ford closed the energetic week with sexy glamour.
Key trends: One of the most daring trends of the week may cause a rename of NYC to Skin City. Body bravery and pride were everywhere, along with a welcome celebration of diversity and inclusion moving toward the endgame of making it a non-issue. Skin was celebrated, revealed and glimpsed through cutaways and transparency, and the body beautiful was celebrated in collections throughout the week. Dressing up is definitely the direction over dressing down, whether cool, glamorous, polished or edgy. Other standout trends were the new riffs on tailoring, dramatic sculptural volumes, fringe, happy-pill vivid colors and sweeter pastels, summer black, fresh whites, and artisanal crochet and netting.
The mood: After a breathless week of norm-pushing shows and back-to-back pent-up celebrations, we’re feeling a collective satisfied exhaustion. We haven’t seen fashion or the city this alive and high-octane for quite a while.
What will make people spend: The new bigger volume pants had a must-have factor and will definitely be a reason to spend, as will looks to party in and the platforms and sexy heels to go with it.
Roopal Patel, senior vice president, fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue
Standout collections: Cate Holstein delivered a New York City-centric collection for Khaite that exuded cool for her global cult following. Wes Gordon showcased a joyous and chic collection for Carolina Herrera, invoking smiles all throughout the room. LaQuan Smith’s racy lineup of pop colors in sexy, body-baring sheer and shiny pairings turned up the heat. Additional standouts included Proenza Schouler, Jason Wu, Brandon Maxwell, Ulla Johnson, Gabriela Hearst and Tory Burch.
Key trends: We are seeing a lot of sheer fabrications with the allure to bare it all and high gloss and shine, from satins to clear sequins. Bustiers for day-to-evening dressing are another key trend, as well as cargo and utility, gilded gold and Space-Age silver, and pop colors in bold neon pink, orange, green and purple shades.
The mood: NYFW is back and the city is in full swing. This week has been full of energy, great fashion, and creative buzz. The electricity could be felt in the air. The American designers who kicked off the marathon-of-fashion month are leading the way for the global fashion community. New York experienced a European invasion this season, best seen at Fendi’s show that celebrated 25 years of the Baguette bag with a star-studded line up.
What will make people spend: The Saks customer is celebrating the joy of life, spending time with family and friends, returning to their communities and offices, and dressing for everyday living. They are looking for great fashion and special pieces to add to their wardrobes. The spring 2023 collections shown in New York this season delivered just what the Saks customer is looking for.
Rickie De Sole, women’s fashion and editorial director, Nordstrom
Standout collections: This season Wes Gordon showed a beautiful collection full of joyous and happy clothes at Carolina Herrera. Altuzarra’s show highlighted body-loving but easy-to-wear shapes in fantastic prints that will be perfect come spring. We loved Hillary Taymour’s unexpectedly romantic take on eveningwear at Collina Strada and Tom Ford’s all-out glamour with a youthful spin. LaQuan Smith’s show was full of glam and party-ready frocks in bold pinks and purples combined with a renewed focus on daywear. We also saw strong showings from Dion Lee and new-to-Nordstrom brand Interior.
Key trends: Relaxed glamour — eveningwear without the fuss as seen in Brandon Maxwell’s tank dresses, Jason Wu’s simple beaded column skirts, Michael Kors’ and Peter Do’s fluid jersey dresses. Gold and shine continued to dominate the NYFW runways, from Khaite’s crystal embellished blazers to Area’s extreme creations and Tom Ford’s all-out finale looks. We saw lots of bold top options leaving little to the imagination, from breast plates and bra tops to sheer options and touches of lace. Shorts are the new miniskirt — Tom Ford, Brandon Maxwell, and Oscar de la Renta found a new way to interpret the mini for spring. Finally, lots of fringe and crochet accents were found on the runway, from Proenza Schouler’s golden finale looks to Gabriela Hearst’s crochet knit dresses and Ulla Johnson’s woven bags.
The mood: The energy of New York Fashion Week never disappoints, and this September was no different. From Fendi and Marni popping up in town this season to the memorable casting at Collina Strada, Gabriela Hearst and Vogue World, the shows were pure entertainment.
What will make people spend: Finding joy in fashion felt like a reoccurring theme throughout the shows this season. We saw bright tones to make anyone smile, from the sparkly sequined Fendi Baguettes to Collina Strada’s whimsical eveningwear that will encourage a wardrobe refresh as we head into spring.
Jodi Kahn, vice president, luxury fashion, Neiman Marcus
Standout collections: The energy of New York Fashion Week is inspiring. Gabriela Hearst set the stage with a moving musical performance along with fresh, dramatic metallic fashion, and Khaite is always a favorite of mine with elements of crystal embellishment, fringe, leather and denim that gave the right amount of edge with a cool, sophisticated vibe. My favorite part about fashion week is seeing all the emerging talent such as Interior, Studio 189, Peter Do, and Bach Mai — who we are very excited to collaborate with for collections this season.
Key trends: Color is everywhere on the runway this season — specifically vibrant hues of yellow and purple featured in Proenza Schouler, Ulla Johnson, Carolina Herrera, Sergio Hudson and Altuzarra’s collections. There was an emphasis on craftsmanship that is unprecedented with artisanal, crochet detailing; fringe; mixed media, and knitwear. Matching sets, metallics, and the color black were also popular trends amongst designers.
The mood: This year, New York Fashion Week is bursting with an electric, upbeat energy to kick off the month. It’s nice to see the continued momentum in the American fashion industry. Overall, we noticed more body and size inclusivity from the models, and a reoccurring essence of sophisticated, sensual femininity reflected in modernized lingerie wear and sheer details.
What will make people spend: As our buying team prepares for the upcoming holiday season, we saw remarkable collections from notable brand partners to Neiman Marcus that are sure to be favorites with our discerning customers. With color, metallics and craftsmanship leading the spring trends, one-of-a-kind creations such as a tulle minidress from Carolina Herrera, a black and sequined gown from Bach Mai, and this leather corset, long cardigan from Gabriela Hearst will make a beautiful statement look for any holiday party this year.
Joseph Tang, fashion director, Holt Renfrew
Standout collections: The Fendi show celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Baguette bag was a showstopper that kicked off a week of amazing fashions and finds. The return of iconic Canadian supermodel Linda Evangelista was the cherry on top. Marni’s powerful runway collection offered a new definition of street style with the colorful parade of clothes for everyone. Khaite was effortlessly chic with pieces that will blend into any woman’s wardrobe.
Key trends: The sophistication of the early ‘90s with minimalist twists on classic tailoring. Sleek tailoring reworked with asymmetric details and elongated silhouettes. Crotchet and crafted pieces done in the form of easy summer dresses or statement knits. Utilitarian influences with cargo pants being a must-have for the spring season.
The mood: There was not a moment to spare during this New York Fashion Week! As the fashion circuit has evolved again post-COVID[-19], the jam-packed schedule offered up new discoveries, a celebration of iconic New York designers, and the captivating energy that the city has to offer. We are leaving New York excited to share with our customers an updated vision for spring.
What will make people spend: If this week taught us anything, it’s that personal style is more important than ever — embracing the mix and empowering your own fashion attitude. From cropped knit tops to super slinky jersey dresses or extremely oversize cargo pants, this spring it’s all about breaking the rules of traditional fashion codes. Tailor your outfits your way and make everyone’s collection your own. We are also seeing that the “It” bags are back, whether it’s a Fendi Baguette in any size or color or the sea of rainbow bags seen at Telfar.
April Hennig, chief merchant, Moda Operandi
Standout collections: Gabriela Hearst’s joyous show was a standout. I also loved Proenza Schouler’s fresh take on femininity, the serene glamour of Brandon Maxwell, and the cheery sophistication of Carolina Herrera. Cate Holstein’s lineup at Khaite was the ultimate cool girl wardrobe.
Key trends: New York struck a balance between emotional and sensible. Designers further cemented their DNA with confidence and unapologetically asserted their codes. We loved the crochet and fringe in all its forms seen from clean craft at Gabriela Hearst to crystal-encrusted versions at Jonathan Simkhai; something we are calling “Oceana” from light-refracting sequins to wave-like silhouettes, while shimmering, scale-like sequins, seen at Fe Noel, Simkhai and LaQuan Smith, are undoubtedly the most eye-catching aspect of the trend — and make for some seriously standout eveningwear.
Big volume is back and ushers in a new kind of sex appeal; bubble hems, trapeze frocks, relaxed yet refined wide-legged pants; florals; transitional outerwear with trenches and statement coats shown over slinky dresses; black and white stripes and polka dots for evening; sultry transparencies.
The mood: New York is back…with attendees out in full force, star-studded casting, and designers showcasing the best that New York has to offer, with iconic venues at every turn, from Marni under the Manhattan Bridge, Ulla Johnson at the Brooklyn Museum, LaQuan Smith at the Intrepid, and Peter Do in the clouds above Gotham. With so many energetic live performances at the shows, the week highlighted the enduring connection between fashion and entertainment.
What will make people spend: We see our client respond to newness on the runways. We are seeing fresh denim-on-denim looks, new items like breast plates, and streetwear-inspired cargos. Our customer is still focused on going out, but evolving from party minis and cutouts to bubble silhouettes, mermaid hems and trains, and liquid suiting.
Tiffany Hsu, vice president, womenswear and kidswear fashion buying, Mytheresa
Standout collections: Peter Do, Khaite, LaQuan Smith and Gabriela Hearst were the real highlights. The collections exuded pure confidence and were not afraid to show off.
Key trends: There is a clear trend toward monochromatic looks, cutouts, sparkles and hand-crafted elements.
The mood: We saw a true sense of excitement and a point of difference within the collections, which I loved.
What will make people spend: Customers are looking for sexy and minimal silhouettes at the moment.
Divya Mathur, chief merchandising officer, Intermix
Standout collections: There so many great shows this season but the standouts for me were Brandon Maxwell, Aknvas, Proenza Schouler and LaQuan Smith.
Key trends: All about sequin/shine/metallics, soft tailoring and utility, slouchy trousers, transparency and layering, off-the-shoulder is back, more modern takes on crochet and fringe, volume as seen in bubble hems, “puffy” ruffles, and exaggerated sleeves.
The mood: The overall mood was sensual and pretty. We saw a lot of tactile fabrics that breathe new life into staple silhouettes — a sophisticated Y2K.
What will make people spend: Newness and novelty. Wardrobe updates that feel new but timeless — like chic suiting in the season’s standout colors of yellow and lilac. Also, statement pieces that can be worn multiple ways — like a sequin mini that can be dressed up for night or worn with a blazer and flats for day.
Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear, Matchesfashion
Standout collections: Ashlynn Park’s incredibly elevated collection — covetable, beautiful but wearable pieces; Altuzarra’s shibori tie-dye and coin embroidery, and tie detail stripe shirting layered over the perfect pleat miniskirts, Gabriela Hearst’s beautifully crafted knitwear and crochet in fiery colors; Khaite’s sequins, silk fringe, crystal embellished mesh, python stamped fabrics and satin bubble skirts, and Studio 189’s collection’s new use of hand batik, weaving, patchwork, indigo dyeing, and basket weaving.
Key trends: We saw a real shift to modern luxurious wardrobing and interesting accessible tailoring to fit all lifestyles. Refined, high craftsmanship from fringing, mesh, crochet, tie-dye and shibori, all in expert techniques and often in an elevated tonal palette. Strong statement metallics were key and we look set to see the return of the bubble skirt.
The mood: The celebration of life was a key theme across NYFW. The collections and shows were filled with joyful, uplifting and emotive moments.
What will make people spend: We saw redefined craft techniques not yet seen before, giving customers new reasons to invest in emotive yet wearable pieces. Ashlyn, launching this season as part of our Innovators Program, showcased incredible tailored pieces with design integrity using a zero-waste approach. We also saw perfect flat sandals and easy block heels across the runways.
Libby Page, market director, Net-a-porter
Standout collections: Khaite was undoubtedly a highlight. Her runway was a showcase in dressing women for every occasion. In the showroom there was an easy, light, cotton-based summer drop for an April delivery, giving our buyers the best of both worlds. Wes Gordon surprised and delighted at Carolina Herrera. From silk chiffon floral gowns that oozed fluidity, striped knit dresses, and that incredible pink sequined skirt, this show gave us the variety we have been craving from the brand. Even if a feminine dress isn’t for you, I guarantee you’ll find something in this collection you’ll love.
Key trends: Every season there is a color that flocks the shows, and whilst green still reigns supreme, it was blue, be it sea blue, teal or turquoise that was the cool shade to watch. Crochet, knitwear and anything homespun was very prevalent as many designers worked with artisan communities to create beautifully hand-woven product. From Tibi’s floor-sweeping denim skirts to Peter Do’s minimal sheer tailoring and Khaite’s ever so cool snakeskin, there was a real ’90s grunge attitude to New York that was pleasantly unexpected.
The mood: The mood this season was high energy! Post-pandemic, this is the busiest I’ve see New York Fashion week with brands, buyers and press all looking to re-engage with the city. This season wasn’t just about putting on a show, but a performance. Gabriela Hearst and Studio 189 gave us exactly that, a runway with a reason and a meaning. The casting at New York was the best we’ve seen it — inclusive, powerful and fashion for all.
What will make people spend: Brands with a purpose. It must be more than just the clothes now more than ever. Consumers want to give back with their purchases and buy into brands that do.