Colours are an important reflection of the overall mood of a season – during the pandemic designers leaned on paintbox brights and highly pigmented shades to inspire a much-needed feeling of joy. For autumn/winter 2023, the attitude was more about simplicity and pragmatism, and so the colour palette naturally became more muted. There were still flashes of sunshine yellow and (of course) Mattel pink, but it was largely a tale of grey, whits and black. Instead of rainbow dressing, designers celebrated the foundations of a hard-working wardrobe.
The other headline: red. It’s a colour imbued with drama, but in many way it’s as classic as black or navy – and became a significant theme of autumn/winter 2023. “There is no other colour that is so fundamental, so fused to our primal, human itches,” Charlotte Sinclair wrote of red. “Red takes no prisoners. It is emphasis itself, the double underline, the stop sign, the alert, the roadblock, the alarm, the danger, the oomph, the sex, the passion, the incitement, the excitement. Maximilian Davis, who has made the colour his signature as creative director at Ferragamo, certainly agrees with her. But the list of designers playing with the fiery shade is long.
This season, instead of kooky combinations and unlikely clashes, it’s all about tonal dressing. Below, a breakdown of key colour trends for autumn/winter 2023.
The likes of Prada, Bottega Veneta and The Row added fiery reds into their autumn line-up, where it spiced up tailoring and knitwear like a Scotch Bonnet pepper. This trend is not for wallflowers, and is designed to be worn full throttle and head-to-toe. Red is often associated with classic Old Hollywood glamour (think post-transformation Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman), however the autumn/winter 2023 shows offered more modern styling inspiration – the knitted coords at Ferragamo, glossy scarlet skirts at Prada, and the tailored wool coat and matching gloves at The Row all get honourable mentions.
All business grey
The forecast for autumn/winter 2023 is overcast, with a moody palette resembling London skies. One outfit all Vogue editors want to be wearing this September is the slouchy cardigan and matching fluted knitted skirt at Loewe – who knew a grey cardigan could make such an impact? There was plenty more boardroom-ready grey – Gucci served a slouchy trouser suit which was very The Wolf Of Wall Street, while Max Mara, Emilia Wickstead and Bottega Veneta elevated the sensible grey coat. Alberta Ferretti, meanwhile, made grey glamorous with a strapless charcoal gown just waiting for a red-carpet outing.
Every shade of yellow
Pantone’s colour report from London Fashion Week autumn/winter 2023 highlighted “Spectra Yellow”, a punchy mustard shade. Commercially speaking, yellow is always regarded as a controversial, risky colour that tends to end up in the final reduction section of sales, and yet it was all over the autumn runways. At Ferragamo and Christopher Kane it was highly saturated and bold, however the likes of Molly Goddard, Tove and Givenchy focused on softer, buttery shades that were vanilla adjacent. The buttermilk silken slip dress at Tove shows that yellow can have mass appeal and be a crowd pleaser – expect to see it making a splash on Instagram.
Black never goes away, but it was so ubiquitous this season as to require a dedicated section of this trend report. Black formed the foundation of a number of collections, including at The Row, Versace and Givenchy. These masterful looks showed why black is a uniform for so many – it’s perhaps the most effortlessly stylish way of getting dressed. When in doubt, dress like an Olsen twin this winter.
Barbiecore is still going strong, with a number of bubblegum-pink outfits on the catwalk that could have come straight from the wardrobe in the doll’s Dreamhouse. Instead of soft shades, the pinks that proliferated in the autumn/winter 2023 collections were saccharine and vibrant. Versace peppered hot pink through an otherwise largely black collection, while Roksanda and Standing Ground both included rippling, satin gowns in joyful shades of pink. Giorgio Armani and Rick Owens, meanwhile, offered a more ’90s supermodel spin, with sugary mirrored metallics.
There was no ignoring the dominance of ivory, matrimonial looks for autumn/winter 2023. Fashion-forward brides can look to the likes of Ferragamo, Richard Quinn and Victoria Beckham for a modern spin on wedding dressing, while Prada proved you don’t need a ring to embrace this mood. Prada turned the embellishments you’d usually only find on wedding dresses into everyday skirts, and paired them with practical crewneck jumpers. The white bow-adorned pumps are destined to be a fixture on the front row come September.
This article was originally published on Vogue UK.