From Martine Rose’s debut as guest designer at Pitti Uomo to changes under Raf Simons at Prada; here’s a guide to the Autumn/Winter 2023 menswear season
With more U-turns than the British government circa 2020, fashion is at its wildest yet. But among PR crises and more worldly woes, a hunger for spectacle and fresh blood reigns supreme – especially in menswear. From Martine Rose’s Pitti debut to Gucci sans Alessandro Michele, milestone moments abound this January.
Below, here’s our guide to the Autumn/Winter 2023 menswear season, spanning Pitti Uomo, Milan and Paris.
Big Shoes to Fill
To talk of Gucci without mentioning camp would be sacrilege. After Alessandro Michele took the helm in 2015, Gucci has unravelled masculinity, subbing in a sexed-up 70s vision and rendering gender binaries obsolete. That said, questions still stand: what will follow in Michele’s wake – plus, who will dress Harry Styles? For now, the brand’s design remains an in-house affair, but A/W23 could be the season this all changes – earmark January 13 stat.
Speaking of hard acts to follow, Louis Vuitton has yet to confirm the successor to Virgil Abloh, its late men’s artistic director. In the five collections since his passing, respects to Abloh’s visual lexicon have been pivotal, however, fashion insiders now predict a change of guard, with Telfar Clemens, Martine Rose and Grace Wales Bonner in the running. That the next designer in line is a person of colour seems to be a given, since their elevation was such a core tenet in Abloh’s own work. Until then, a surprise guest designer – Colm Dillane of KidSuper – will lead the procession for A/W23. Winner of the Karl Lagerfeld LVMH Prize in 2021, Dillane is a welcome curveball, buying Louis Vuitton time while keeping things fresh with his atypical fashion background and streetwear skew – similarities shared with the late Abloh.
The Big Dogs
Bigger is better has been the rallying cry of fashion’s major maisons lately. And if the Egyptian Pyramids that backdropped Dior Men’s Pre-Fall 2023 collection or the Agafay desert at Saint Laurent’s S/S23 menswear show were anything to go by, A/W23 is set to be spectacular.
As for the clothes, expect equally ambitious ideas. Sure, Dior Men’s artistic director Kim Jones has always loved a collab, but these past few years have taken his magpie mind to new heights. Calling on Tremaine Emory’s Denim Tears, Bloomsbury Group artists and Eli Russell Linnetz more recently, the maverick is bound to go big this month. Here’s to hoping for a crossover in the realm of Kaws and Daniel Arsham.
Elsewhere, Saint Laurent’s head honcho Anthony Vaccarello seems intent on transposing Yves Saint Laurent’s revered womenswear – ‘Le Smoking’ suit, in particular – onto men for a softened take on tailoring. A/W23 should follow suit. Over at Fendi, the Peekaboo bag has been scaled up as the man-bag mainstay, while the Baguette gets dinkier by the season, ideal for guys indulging their repressed Y2K ‘it girl’. What’s next remains to be seen, but whatever follows guys in Mary Janes and crop-top tuxedos is sure to land.
Martine Rose at Pitti Uomo
It’s hard to imagine a designer as rooted in London subculture as Martine Rose, and it’s precisely this that makes her first foray beyond the capital all the more momentous. Showing as Pitti Uomo’s guest designer, she follows in the footsteps of her peer Grace Wales Bonner, promising overdue kudos on the continent. Fabled as an integral player in redefining Balenciaga’s menswear under Demna, Rose is often dubbed the ‘designer’s designer‘, but with any luck, her predilection for skewering traditional men’s shapes will accelerate her global acclaim at this new career juncture.
Ones to Watch
Already a household name, Raf Simons is well into his tenure as co-creative director of Prada alongside Miuccia Prada. Yet, despite Simons’s flying start, there is a palpable feeling the Belgian is just getting into his stride. Indeed, the shuttering of his namesake label and Mrs Prada’s step down as Prada Group CEO suggest change is afoot. While a solo Simons show for Prada seems out of the question for the moment, many of his signature tropes – youth culture, arthouse film and poetic femininity – have yet to announce themselves explicitly. Now that he’s found his feet, Simons could begin carving his mark on the house for A/W23 and beyond.
Elsewhere, club kid visionary Charles Jeffrey will present his first Milan show, a daunting departure for a designer whose USP owes so much to London’s queer community. His recent experimentation with cues beyond nightlife, however, signal a timely maturation.
In terms of surprises, prepare for plenty. Rising star Botter made serious waves in September with its ode to the ocean, primed with Caribbean blue suiting and water balloon gloves. Naturally, we’re banking on another aquatic adventure in sartorial innovation. Add to this Wales Bonner’s first Paris outing, which comes after an Afro-Atlantic dissection of Milan’s Medici family last season, Bianca Saunders’ Jamaican-British spin on minimalism, plus New York favourite Bode’s triumphant return to Paris, and we’re set for some seriously thoughtful fashion.